By Ellson Quismorio
Administration lawmakers in the House of Representatives are confident that efforts to “federalize” the Philippines–one of the dreams of President Rodrigo Duterte’s–will significantly move forward this 18th Congress.
Oriental Mindoro 1st district Rep. Doy Leachon said House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s former running mate, will ensure that proposals to switch to a federal type of government will make headway in the legislative mill.
The former Committee on Justice chairman went as far to say that there’s enough time to achieve the federalism by the end of Duterte’s term in 2022.
“I’m pretty confident especially that this is one of the priorities of Speaker Cayetano,” Leachon said.
“I also do believe on the wisdom of such motivation. Incidentally, the objectives are anchored principally on maximizing governmental and national development,” he said of federalism.
One of the biggest criticisms of the current unitary type of government is over-centralization, which some say shackles the country’s regions from achieving their full economic potential. Federalism will solve this conundrum, advocates say.
For Camiguin lone district Rep. Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo, 18th Congress solons are capable of coming up with a point of reference or the so-called “complete package” that would facilitate useful discussion on federalism.
“I think we can come up with the complete package this Congress, but I don’t think that we can implement it before 2022. The President himself said that it will pass beyond his time,” said Romualdo, a Deputy Majority Leader.
“If the 18th Congress can come up with the complete package, as the President calls it, this will go a long way in laying the foundation for a federal Philippines,” added the Mindanaoan.
Earlier, Romualdo noted that the existence of multiple proposals for a federal Philippines prevented the debates from moving forward.
“In the previous congress, I remember there was a PDP-Laban version, a Con-Com (Constitutional Commission) version, and then the House came out with its own version. I mean how can we, as a nation, talk about and discuss it if we all have different conceptions or ideas of federalism?” he asked.
The 18th Congress represents the final three years of the Duterte administration, which began in 2016.