Palace still upbeat on federalism despite lukewarm reception
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang remains optimistic that moves to shift to a federal form of government will gather steam while the Duterte administration exerts all efforts to inform the public of its benefits.

President Duterte has directed all concerned agencies to be more aggressive in the campaign for federalism, the task earlier spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that supposedly had brought the issue to the grassroots level.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President had also asked the mass media to help boost efforts to introduce federalism to the Filipino people. 

Being the sole presidential bet from Mindanao, Duterte ran under the platform of federalism and peace and order in the 2016 national elections.

Andanar said Duterte wanted to continue campaigning for federalism.

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

Some lawmakers said the federalism moves at the Senate and the House of Representatives should start by early next year to enable them to pass the law.

If the measure fails to hurdle Congress next year, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the administration will have a difficult time to have it approved by 2019 – year of the midterm elections.

Lawmakers should work double time to pass it, Sotto said, agreeing to observations that the public should be well-informed about the shift in the form of government.

Senators noted there is a need to also settle the contentious issues, such as what will happen to the senators in case of the creation of parliament, how will each chamber vote on the matter and what type of federal government should be adopted.

Last week, Duterte acknowledged that Filipinos seem to be not ready for a shift to federal form of government. 

He noted, however, that this is a route to peace and development to address the concerns of those who are living in conflict-torn Mindanao.

Duterte said the government must find the right formula, otherwise the country will have to face another challenge in the future. 

“(The) problem is Filipinos are not ready for a federal type. It doesn’t seem to ring a bell in the Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.

Duterte expressed belief that federalism will address the concerns of Moro groups in a bid to end the decades-old strife in the region.

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