By Ben Rosario
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today chided oppositors of the bid for a shift to federalism for allegedly spreading criticisms against the Charter change move based on “unfounded fears.”
Interviewed on radio, Alvarez said anti-federalism forces have decried his proposal to scrap next year’s mid-term elections “mainly with arguments that remain unsubstantiated with facts and the truth.”
Alvarez, a staunch supporter of federalism, explained that the “no-election” proposal is based on the desire of many political leaders to take advantage of the Duterte administration’s support for revision of the 1987 Constitution.
He warned that unless Charter revision is carried out by 2019 it would be very difficult to achieve such goal.
“If we delay it further, we would not be able to do it until the end of the term of President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Alvarez said.
The House leader noted that after the 2019 elections, the Duterte administration will have a little over two years remaining to approve a new Charter and allow a proper transition period for the shift to federal government.
President Rodrigo Duterte would have a little over two years remaining in his term which is not enough to approve a new charter and allow a proper transition period to the new federal government, according to Alvarez.
“That is why those who are against the move to change from a unitary to a federal form of government that would be the best position to take: let’s have an election and attend to that (charter change) after the election. They know very well that it would not be possible,” Alvarez said.
Earlier he noted that among the candidates in the 2016 presidential elections it was only Duterte who advocated for a shift to a federal form of government.
With the need for Congress to attend first to the proposed 2019 budget, the October deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy of re-electionist lawmakers, the Christmas break two months later and the start of the campaign period by February next year, Alvarez said there is simply no time for Congress to tackle the proposed federal charter.
Postponing the May 2019 mid-term polls is the best option to give lawmakers enough time to subject the various drafts of a federal charter to study and extensive debates, according to Alvarez.
Earlier, opposition lawmakers warned Charter change proponents to expect more Filipinos to reject it after discovering the “vested interests behind” the move.
ACT Teachers Partylist Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro said this prediction is backed by the Pulse Asia survey indicating that 67 percent of Filipinos oppose charter change and the federal system.
“As we expose more of the vested interests behind this Cha-cha, the Duterte administration should expect more Filipinos to oppose it and the federal system of government,” Tinio said.
ON the other hand, Castro stated: “This charter change and federal system of government that the Duterte administration is trying to pass is a government that is for the elite and the ruling class.
In a separate press statement, Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano decried the Charter change bid as: premature, noting that there is no popular public support for it.
“Clearly, there is no public clamor. Worse, the people do not have the capacity and understanding, as of the moment, to engage in the process of charter change. This attempt is premature,” said Alejano.
Alejano said that the lack of public clamor and knowledge renders the efforts to change the Constitution and shift to a federal form of government “inorganic.”
For his part, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said the Pulse Asia survey revealing strong opposition to Charter change glaringly indicates that Filipinos are aware that the move will only be used by the Duterte administration to perpetuate itself in power and “establish a dictatorial government.”
“Anakpawis is one with the people in opposing the draconian measure of Duterte and his minions to change the constitution. All sectors, groups and individuals who are against charter change should be together in a broad alliance opposing the self-serving maneuvers of Duterte and his allies”, Casilao stated.