By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has not totally given up on the proposed shift to a federal form of government for the remainder of President Duterte’s term.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said that amending the Constitution to introduce federalism may be done through a constitutional convention after the two houses of Congress previously disagreed on convening a constituent assembly.
“Nagkaron sila ng problema dahil di nila alam kung paano nila icoconstitute ang kanilang sarili. ‘Yung Senado at yung members ng House of Rep hindi sila magkaunawaan kung paano diskarte nila. Eh ‘di lang naman yan ang pamamaraan ng pag-amyenda ng saligang batas, puwede namang constitutional convention [They had a problem on how they will constitute themselves. The Senate and the House of Representatives disagreed on this. But that’s the only the way to amend the Constitution. It may be done through constitutional convention],” he said in a radio interview.
“Palagay ko di mawawala yan. May tatlong taon pa naman tayo [I think it is not yet over. We have three years left],” he said about the President’s federalism move.
Asked if federalism still had a chance to be adopted, Panelo said: “I think so yes, there is always the light at the end of tunnel.”
Last week, President Duterte urged lawmakers to amend the Constitution to improve the country’s situation, if they were no longer interested in pursuing federalism. Duterte, who has long advocated for federalism to decentralize power from Manila and spur development in the countryside, said it was “fine” if the lawmakers did not favor federalism.
“If you do not want federalism, fine, but change the Constitution that would change this nation,” the President said during the oath-taking of newly elected government officials in Malacañang last Tuesday.
The House of Representatives earlier approved its version of a draft federal Constitution that retains the presidential form of government, but allows Congress to create federal states as well as lifts the term limits of lawmakers. The Senate, on the other hand, has yet to pass a counterpart bill.