By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP)-Laban will continue pursuing its advocacy of pushing for federalism.
Pimentel made the statement in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement he will accept if the move towards federalism will not push through under his administration.
“The PDP-Laban will continue to educate our people on federalism and its benefits,” Pimentel said when sought to comment on the issue.
Duterte, however, is still advocating for changes in the Constitution. “You should change the Constitution actually. Not for anything, if you do not want federalism. But change the Constitution that would really change this nation,” the president said during the oath-taking of newly elected officials and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) senators in Malacañang.
Pimentel, the party’s president said, the ruling party is open to the President’s suggestion saying that the PDP-Laban advocates for constitutional change “primarily because of our federalism position.”
“But the party is also open to parliamentary form of government,” he said, noting that the government is now under presidential form.
“We are also open to amending the Constitution to delegate to Congress the fixing of the nationality requirements in certain aspects of our economy but the ownership of land must remain to be Filipino,” Pimentel said.
The Duterte administration has been pushing to change the country’s form of government to federalism believing this would help spur economic development in provinces and far-flung areas.
The House of Representatives has approved its version of the draft federal charter on third and regular reading in December last year but the Senate has yet to pass the counterpart bill.
Several lawmakers agree that the Philippines is not yet ready to shift to a federal form of government as many Filipinos are not yet aware of this concept.