By Genalyn Kabiling
An interagency task force has been created to increase public awareness about federalism and constitutional reform.
In Memorandum Circular No.52, President Duterte designated the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government to chair the Interagency Task Force on Federalism (IATF) with the Secretary of Justice as vice chairperson.
“The conduct of public information drive and advocacy campaign at the grassroots level is necessary to raise public awareness on federalism and constitutional reform as well as to ensure widest public participation in the ongoing initiatives to amend or revise the fundamental law of the land,” the memo read.
It also acknowledged that constant public consultations were “essential” in every stage of the constitutional reform process to ensure such efforts would “embody the sovereign will and reflect the ideals and aspirations of our people.”
In the circular, the Secretary of Justice will serve as vice chairperson of the new task force. The members include the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Political Adviser, Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines Law Center.
Under MC 52, the task force will have primary duty of “harmonizing and coordinating ongoing efforts towards Federalism and constitutional reform.”
Among the functions are to develop and implement activities to promote federalism campaign; prepare an information dissemination and communication plan; undertake consultations with former members of the Consultive Committee, government agencies, private sector, and public; liaise with Congress to initiate the process and address roadblocks to constitutional reform.
Government agencies, including government corporations and state universities and colleges, have also been directed to coordinate with the task force before conducting any activity involving federalism and constitutional reform.
They must also render support to the IATF and participate in educational programs and orientation seminars on federals and constitutional reform.
The new task force has been directed to submit quarterly reports about its activities. Budget for the task force operations would be sourced from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The order, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President last October 31, takes effect immediately.
The creation of the task force came after the President directed authorities to get public feedback on the draft federal Constitution prepared by a consultative committee. The President wanted to consider the comments of the people and improve the draft before transmitting it to Congress.
Under the draft Charter, the federal republic will have 18 regions, including regions for the Bangsamoro, the Cordillera, and Negros Islands. These regions will have certain exclusive powers and get a 50-50 share in national wealth.