A planned shift to a federal form of government for the Philippines by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte may have a good chance in Congress, given an apparently emerging consensus in both houses, Camarines Sur Representative-elect Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte issued the statement in reaction to a news report quoting outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon as saying that more senators in the incoming Congress favor constitutional reform.
The newly elected congressman was referring to the statement last week of Drilon about the unraveling stand in the Senate on the need to review and amend the Constitution.
“Whether or not it will be done through Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly) or a Con-Con (Constitutional Convention), I have no feel at this point, just that having to review and amend the Constitution is a matter that I think there is a unanimity in the Senate,” the Senate president earlier said.
With similar backing by presumptive Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for both Charter change or Cha-cha and federalism, Villafuerte said Congress seems likely to give “the big push” at the onset of the Duterte presidency for the overhaul of the national government structure.
He noted that Cha-cha was also among the topics that incoming President Duterte discussed with a group of congressmen-elect in a meeting last week.
“Given this scenario, there is more reason for the formation of a grand coalition of parties from across the political divide in the House of Representatives, and now also the Senate, to finally push the switch to federalism by way of Cha-Cha in the next government,” Villafuerte said.
He added that only genuine devolution of powers from “Imperial Manila” to the provinces and cities would allow the country’s promising economic overdrive to truly trickle down to the masses and enable the incoming President to make good on his plan to create special economic zones and thereby generate enough jobs in the countryside.
The incoming Camarines Sur lawmaker earlier said a grand coalition of pro-administration and opposition political parties to spearhead the federal shift has assumed greater urgency, given Duterte’s publicly declared support for federalism and the backing of incoming House Speaker Alvarez for Charter change.
Under the Constitution, amendments to the 1987 Charter could be introduced by any of these three modes: through a duly-elected Constitutional Convention, Congress convening itself into a Constituent Assembly or a People’s Initiative (PI).
“Congress must take the lead in pushing the federal shift via Charter change on the watch of would-be President Duterte, who himself champions federalism and who enjoys significant popular support,” Villafuerte said.