The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said federalism is not dead despite disagreement among the agencies creating the draft.
“Yes as [fas as] federalism is concerned, we are [still] on it,” DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told reporters in a chance interview.
But Malaya said the Inter-agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform was still not ready to come up with a common resolution because of disagreement among its members.
The task force, created in 2018 through Memorandum Circular 52, is composed of Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año; Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra; and the heads of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary,
Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesman, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Political Adviser, Commission on Higher Education and Development Academy of the Philippines; and University of the Philippines Law Center.
Malaya said the cost of the transition to federal form of government was one of the causes of disagreement.
“We would have wanted no dissenting [voices] because people will get confused about government’s position on [federalism],” he added in English and Filipino.
For now, the DILG is submitting its proposed “surgical amendments” in the 1987 Constitution, including an anti-dynasty provision.
But Professor Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms said some allies of President Rodrigo Duterte were against the anti-dynasty provision of the proposed Constitution.
The surgical amendments passed to the Congress would be helpful once the President green lights the move for charter change, Malaya said.
Malaya said the negative connotation of “charter change” triggers the slow push for the federalism.
As a solution, DILG revamped its campaign to change the Constitution through its information campaign program Constitutional Reform.
“This [is hoped to] at least open the eyes of Filipinos to restart [the discussion on federalism], as people are always asking about what’s happening,” Malaya said.
The result of a Social Weather Stations survey in 2018 showed 75 percent of Filipinos were not aware of the federalism.
In July 2018, the President received the Bayanihan Draft Federalism Constitution created by the Consultative Committee led by former chief justice Reynato Puno.
In June 2019, he said he did not want to push federalism anymore, but vowed to still change the 1987 Constitution.
In his State of the Nation Address last July, Duterte said federalism would be up to his successor.