Fate of federalism up to Congress, says Palace

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will let Congress decide on the fate of his proposal to shift to federalism, Malacañang said on Tuesday, July 23.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that while the President is still holding on to his plan to change the current government setup to a federal form, he would respect the legislators' "independence of mind."

"The chances always depend on those who will decide whether to amend the Constitution or not and by what means," Panelo told a press conference.

"Syempre, ang member ng Kongreso, may kanya-kanyang konsensya (Of course, each member of Congress has own conscience), independence of mind. They have to decide on their own. The President proposes. Congress disposes," he added.

This comes a day after the President admitted that despite his push for a federal government, it would likely be passed beyond his term.

During his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte did not mention his push for federalism.

Under Article 17, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, "any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members."

However, the legislative branch has yet to act on Duterte's proposal, even though his allies dominated the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Panelo said Duterte has no plan of controlling his allies in Congress just to ensure the passage of his proposed federal state.

"Hindi porke't kaalyado, eh ididikta mo ang gusto mo (Not because they are his allies, he would dictate what you want to happen)," the Palace official said.

"It's not the question of (what) he wants. What he's saying [to Congress] is, 'Stop arguing about this. You cannot even agree among yourselves. Just talk within yourselves and then come out with a joint statement on how you will go about amending the charter. If you cannot do it, then let's have people changing it.' 'Yan ang punto ni Presidente (That's the President's point)," he added.

Duterte has sought a shift to federal government as he sees it as the best solution to spur development in the countryside.

Asked if the Palace is optimistic that the proposed federalism can still push through within Duterte's remaining three years in office, Panelo said: "Nasa sa kanila (mambabatas naman 'yun (It's up to the lawmakers)."

"Kasi 'yung federalism, papasok 'yun sa Constitution change. Kaya kung malabo 'yung Kongreso, eh malabo rin sa kanya 'yun kasi sila naman ang magde-decide hindi si Presidente, unless we have a different setup of government," Panelo added.

(Because a change in the Constitution is needed for the proposed federalism. So if it will not be pushed through by Congress, it may no longer be passed during the President's watch because it's not him who will decide, unless we have a different setup of government.) (SunStar Philippines)


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