By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said that it is still the people who will get to decide if they want to shift to a federal form of government like what President Duterte has been pushing for since the election season in 2016.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement in reaction to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who had earlier said she is now against federalism since it will only empower warlords in Mindanao.
In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said the presidential daughter is entitled to her own opinion and that the Palace welcomes all contrapositions to the President’s proposal.
“Well, you know every one of us has her or his ideas on how to solve certain problems. Mayor Sara has her own concept. We respect that,” he said.
“We welcome all other contrapositions and let the people decide,” he added, noting that the Palace’s position on a federal government has not changed.
According to Panelo, it is still the people who will decide if they want a new type of government or not.
“Sino ba magde-decide niyan kung hindi ang framers of the Constitution. Hindi naman si Mayor Sara or si Mayor Duterte o Presidente Duterte (It’s the framers of the Constitution who will decide not Mayor Sara or President Duterte). Still, the framers of the Constitution that will decide and ultimately the people of the Philippines,” he said.
“Filipino pa rin ang magde-decide niyan. Kahit nandoon ‘yan sa provision ng Constitution, kung ni-reject yung buong draft, ‘di wala rin. Filipino pa rin (It is still the Filipino who will determine the fate of federalism. Even if it’s there but if the people do not want it, then that’s it),” he added.
President Duterte has been pushing for federalism to decentralize the national government and allow provinces to benefit more from their own resources.
In July last year, Duterte received the draft federal constitution crafted by 22 members of the Consultative Committee. Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno referred to it as a “Bayanihan Federalism” which keeps in mind the welfare of the people as the supreme law.
But in December last year, Malacañang said that President Duterte will be the first to campaign against the shift to a federal government if the Congress would introduce amendments that are against the interest of the people.
“Let me just repeat what the President said in one of the Cabinet meetings: Should Congress introduce amendments to the Constitution when they meet as an assembly, and it is against the interest of the people, he will campaign against the ratification of that proposed draft of the Constitution,” he said.
Panelo also urged Congress to listen to Puno and reconsider to avoid the Charter change being rejected by the people.
“I hope Congress should listen to former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and open themselves for amendments. They should reconsider. Otherwise, there might be the danger of people rejecting the proposed amendments to the Constitution and that would be a waste of people’s money,” he said.
“At this time it may be premature to judge members of Congress on the draft. They can always reconsider, they can always review. Mahaba pa naman ang panahon, eh (There is still time),” he added.