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Duterte to endorse draft federal charter as priority measure

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By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is expected to push for Charter change to pave the way for federalism when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañang on April 20, 2018. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the President intends to endorse the revised federal constitution drafted by the consultative commission as a priority measure to the two houses of Congress.

“Hinihintay muna niya iyong revised version ng consultative committee bago niya i-endorse [He is just waiting for the revised version of the consultative committee before he endorses it],” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

“Anyway, the SONA will be there. So the SONA will be the proper venue for him to lay out his legislative priority and I’m sure it will include Charter Change,” he added.

The President earlier refused to head the transition commission that will oversee the shift to a federal government based on the draft constitution submitted by the committee. Duterte instead offered to step down early to allow the election of a transition leader, saying he was already tired to assume such role.

The committee, led by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, has reportedly agreed to revise the transitory provisions to comply with Duterte’s request to keep him out of the transition team.

Malacañang, meantime, expressed optimism that the new Constitution allowing the shift to a federal government would be ratified next year.

“In terms of optimism, we remain optimistic,” Roque said.

“And the President has said that if it is finally ratified by the people then he will step down. And he is hoping that both the consultative committee and Congress will adapt his suggestion calling for a transitory provision providing that the transition leader will be an elected post,” he said.

Roque acknowledged that the President has enough allies in Congress to support the federalism move. “We believe so. I think we have a very good working relationship with many of our senators,” he added.

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