TARLAC CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his readiness to step down from office if the federal form of government pushes through, believing that it will unite the country.
“I want this to end disunity among Filipinos,” he said, noting that a federal government will help people realize their individual roles in their regional (or state) affairs through shared resources with the national and central governments.
Duterte said during awarding ceremonies for Belenismo sa Tarlac 2016 that his administration remains steadfast in pursuing a change in the country’s form of government.
Earlier, former Quezon City 2nd District Representative and now president of Philippine National Movement for Federalism (PNMF), Dante Liban said the President is really a leader who represents the people.
Liban questioned University of the Philippines Prof. Rogelio Panao for the academe’s stand on federalism, asking why would their sector talk only now.
“Why only now? Professors and academicians were silent during the election period when President Duterte was still campaigning,” he said, also noting that the academe could have raised its concerns regarding the move at the height of the campaign.
Although PNMF is a private organization, Liban admitted that he has close ties with Duterte, especially since he was one of the campaign strategists of the then-Davao City mayor.
On the other hand, Panao’s presentation titled “Federal Government in the Philippine Setting: A View from the Academe” noted the disadvantages of a federal form of government especially in the country’s cultural, social and geographical aspects.
Panao said pure federalism is rare and involves a collective choice and sectoral representations to compensate the cultural and social requirements for it.
“When federalism pertains to adding layers of government and expanding shared responsibility, it leads to blame shifting and credit claiming, including even overlapping of authority,” he added.
Other than a shift of government form, Panao cited ways to make the Philippines cope with current needs toward development like looking back at the socio-historical context of the country, identifying non-federal remedies within the Constitution, reforming the local government code and pushing for initiatives within the executive and legislative departments rather than Charter change.
Federalism comes from the Latin word “foedus,” which means covenant or contract that involves the participation of the populace.
Earlier survey results revealed that more Filipinos are opposed to Charter change, a move that would pave the way for a shift in the form of government, from presidential to federal or parliamentary.
In July 2016, Pulse Asia released the result of its survey showing that 61 percent are either opposed or undecided on the change in the form of government.
In terms of geographical requirement, a lot of studies have it that one factor in having a successful federal form of government is a country’s size like the US, Canada and Switzerland where federalism worked as they wanted it.
Panao, however, said the academe’s findings and presentation is not a matter of favoring or being against federalism.