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Palace to still push for federalism despite public indifference


By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang is determined to push for the shift to a federal form of government despite the Filipinos’ lack of interest in this campaign promise of President Duterte.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar (ALBERT ALCAIN/PPD / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar

This came after Duterte, himself, admitted that majority of Filipinos seem to be not ready for federalism, especially those living in places where he had expected strong public support for his campaign.

According to Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, the administration will not give up in trying to make the Filipinos understand the benefits of a federal government even if they keep on giving the cold shoulder.

He said he asked the President during the Christmas Party with the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) if it is time to give up on federalism.

“Sabi niya, dapat ituloy ito, dapat ituloy ‘yung information drive para maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan (He said that we should continue with the information drive so our countrymen can have a better understanding on the topic),” Andanar said in an interview over Radyo Pilipinas today.

“Federalism was part of the President’s platform of government during the campaign, and we will continue this push for federalism,” he added.

Andanar also noted how Duterte is now trying to tap the private mainstream media organizations since government channels, including the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) seem to be not enough.

“Kaya nga nakita natin ‘di ba na ang ating Pangulo, sinabi niya na dapat tumulong ang mass media para nga i-inform ang ating mga kababayan patungkol sa federalism (That’s why even the President said the media should help inform the public about federalism),” he said.

Duterte has been campaigning for a federal government since before he decided and publicly announced that he is running for President.

However on Tuesday, Duterte said he thinks people in Visayas and Mindanao are not welcoming the idea.

“It does not seem to ring a bell in the Visayas and Mindanao or, if at all, [only among] those who are really dedicated and are thinking Filipinos,” he said, adding that he was expecting the people there, especially those in Mindanao, to support his campaign because the shift would benefit them.

Duterte is pushing for a federal government in hops that will resolve the long-pestering conflict in Mindanao.

On Wednesday, Duterte said he is willing to compromise with broadcast media giant ABS-CBN if the network helps promote federalism.

“Kung magtulong kayo diyan sa federal system campaign at gawain ninyong (If you will help and make the federal system campaign your) slogan, also for the unity and to preserve this Republic, makipag-areglo ako (I will compromise),” Duterte said.

Duterte has attacked ABS-CBN for allegedly failing to air his campaign ads and for reporting on his alleged hidden wealth.

“Wala akong hingiin (I will not ask for anything). Just dedicate a portion of your time, your expensive and precious time on TV, help us promote federalism, only the good ones,” he added.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace understands why Filipinos seem to be not receptive with the federal shift.

“Truth to tell is it’s difficult to understand sometimes how the change of government to federalism will address our everyday problem,” Roque had said.

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