Federalism still on Duterte’s agenda: Palace


MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte is still keeping federalism on his agenda but it is up to Congress to propose what method should be used in amending the Constitution, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) chief Adelino Sitoy bared that federalism was not discussed during the pre-Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting on Monday (August 5) night.
“Ang federalism palagi namang nasa agenda ni Presidente iyon(Federalism has always been in the President’s agenda),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“But as I repeatedly said, ang bola nasa Kongreso eh (the ball is in the Congress), federalism will entail an amendment to the Constitution,” he added.
Panelo further said the two chambers of Congress should first agree on a method of amending the Constitution - either by Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) or Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).
“Hindi proposed legislation ang federalism (Federalism is not a proposed legislation). That is an amendment to the Constitution, you will change the charter eh,” Panelo said.
“Kaya kailangan iyong dalawa mag-agree muna sila (So the two should first agree) how to propose amendments to the Constitution by calling itself as a Constituent Assembly,” he added.
Panelo, however, admitted that if Congress would fail to agree on amending the Constitution, there is also the option of changing the government code.
“There have been some issues raised relative to the installation of a federal form of government. Some quarters are saying that we don’t even have to do that, because the Local Government Code would suffice, there’s only a need for certain refinements and amendment to the same,” Panelo said.
“I suppose members of Congress would be looking at that angle. If they cannot agree on amending the Constitution, then they can—that’s a fall back, they look at the government code and see what is need to be done,” he added.
Earlier, Panelo rejected claims that Duterte had abandoned his push for a shift to a federal system of government since he did not mention it in his fourth state of the nation address (SONA) on July 22.
“Sinabi niya bang ano, suko na siya? Hindi. (Did he say he was giving up? He didn’t),” Panelo said.
“Ang sinabi niya mukhang hindi na makukuha sa kaniyang term (What he said is that he is aware that it may not be realized during his term),” he added.

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