PROPONENTS of federalism believe that the unrelenting support of President Rodrigo Duterte is crucial for the quick crafting of a new Charter that will pave the way for a change in government from presidential to federal.
“We have to move fast and take advantage of the huge political capital of President Duterte because as of now he still enjoys much support. If we don’t and dilly dally, then there may not be enough time to pass this and make it happen within his term,” Raul Lambino told those who attended the First General Assembly of PDu30 Constitutional Reform Toward Federalism (PDU30CORE) in Intramuros, Manila.
Lambino is one of the convenors of the forum.
Former Interior undersecretary and an officer of the PDP-Laban said Duterte’s support is needed so that a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) can be held within six months.
“The President has tremendous political capital which may dissipate anytime. His political will must make the process move and achieve the goals within six months,” Lorenzana said.
He urged other proponents to convince Duterte “to do this fast.” He explained that the President alone can convince Filipinos to support the shift to a federal system.
Lambino said Congress should pass the bill calling for Con-Con within 90 days. The next step will be the crafting of a new Constitution within six months.
Lambino said a series of forums will be held nationwide to educate Filipinos in the countryside. The next forum is on July 20 in Albay province.
He said most federalism proponents prefer Con-Con over the other modes of changing the Charter because it is the most cost-efficient. That is why it is crucial that Duterte certifies as urgent the resolution that will convene Congress to call for a Con-Con.
“This should be done by August and after the 2/3 votes (of Congress), both Houses of Congress should pass an enabling law on how to change the charter. It may either be through Con-Con or Constituent Assembly but we want a Con-Con and the enabling law should state that the members of the Con-Con should just be elected by the President to save on the cost of going through the elections,” Lambino said.
Gary Olivar, one of the convenors, also said their group intends to come up with its own recommendations on how federalism should be carried out.
Olivar said they will come up with the report by the middle of August.
Former Ambassador and Justice Undersecretary Manuel Teehankee agreed that members of the Con-Con may be appointed by the President if the enabling law on Charter change allows it.
Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel, who also attended the forum, said federalism as a form of government is overdue.
“The Local Government Code is the first step towards federalism and we have seen the positive effects of devolving government functions in order to empower our local government units,” he said.