By Chito Chavez
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) stressed it has not wavered on its efforts to educate and convince the public on the advantages of having a federal form of government.
This statement was issued in reaction to the retort of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari’s call for the President to deliver his promise for a shift to a federal system of government.
At present, the DILG is now working with other government agencies in finalizing the details of the Bayanihan Federalism model developed by the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform (IATF) led by Secretary Eduardo Año and its 10 clusters or committees have been regularly meeting for the past several months in preparation for the opening of the new Congress in June of this year.
“The IATF expects to finish its work by June of this year and we hope to work closely with the new Members of Congress to have this approved during the second half of the President’s term,” Malaya said.
The IATF counts among its members the Department of Justice, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Department of National Defense, Civil Service Commission, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Cabinet Secretariat, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines, University of the Philippines Law Center, the Department of Finance, among others.
“Federalism, as we all know, is a complex matter. It’s a change in how we are governed. The devil is in the details. So, I think we have to give government more time to iron out the details. And that’s what we have been doing recently,” he added.
Malaya said that they still have three years before the President’s term ends to lobby in both houses of Congress and to gather widespread support from the people to be able to deliver on the President’s campaign promise of a change in the system of government.
“There’s still time to get this off the ground so Misuari shouldn’t worry. We hope that Chairman Misuari will instead help the IATF advocate for federalism among our people so that more people will understand why Federalism is needed,” Malaya noted.
He said that the IATF will resume the public advocacy campaign after the mid-term elections.
“Since its election season we postponed some of our activities to the later part of the year but as soon as the elections are over, we will go full blast in our advocacy campaign,’’ he said.
In the meantime, the DILG has been working with civil society organizations, NGOs, and National Government Agencies preparing for the resumption of the advocacy campaign.
It organized the first Federalism Summit last February 7-8 in Manila attended by some 500 federalism advocates, and last week, it organized the National Government Agencies Federalism Conference attended by some 200 government officials.