Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that the Bangsamoro Basic Law was proof that charter change was not needed to achieve federalism's benefits.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal, File
Drilon: No need for Cha-cha to achieve federalism's benefits
Audrey Morallo ( - July 18, 2018 - 4:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangsamoro Basic Law is a proof that charter change is not needed for the benefits of federalism to be felt and for self-governance to be achieved, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.

Both Drilon and his colleage in the minority caucus Sen. Leila de Lima assailed the planned cancelation of elections slated for next year, with the detained lawmaker saying that it destabilizes the country's democracy.

Drilon said that the impending approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would carve out a self-rule region for Muslims in Mindanao, was evidence that the country could achieve what it needed to without changing the 1987 Constitution.

"Having said that, the Bangsamoro Basic Law which we are about to finish today is proof that we do not need federalism or amending the Constitution in order to achieve the self-governance or the benefits of the federalism that are being presented to the people," the former senate president said in an interview with reporters.

"The present Constitution allows the alleged benefits of federalism to be done by legislation," he added.

Drilon said that the BBL would grant the envisioned Bangsamoro region powers, fiscal autonomy and generation of resources, which the proposed federal charter, if adopted, would grant to the country's 18 regions.

Drilon said that moves to amend the constitution could just be a ploy to extend the term of office of some officials, especially those who are scheduled to relinquish their power in 2019.

"Because of this, we (Senate minority) believe that the Constitution should not be changed because whatever objectives in terms of governance changing the charter could give were done with the Bangsamoro Basic Law," Drilon said in a mix of Filipino and English.

In radio interviews on Wednesday morning, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez proposed the extension of the terms of office of officials as the country transitioned to a federal form of government.

De Lima, meanwhile, sees this suggestion as a ploy to force local government officials to support federalism.

She said that postponing next year's polls could destabilize the country's democracy, project uncertainty among government officials and subject the people's right to suffrage to "political exigencies and agenda."

"In whatever capacity the hold-over LGU officials will serve under a No-El (no election) scenario, they will be more prone to pressure from the president if they do not have the mandate given in elections," she said in a statement.

Alvarez said that the postponement of elections was needed to ensure that Congress would have adequate time to deliberate on proposals to change the constitution.

He explained that Congress had packed agenda after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address next week which included next year's capital outlay.

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