By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform (Task Force CORE) have been assured of the support of 256 local chief executives and hundreds more local officials from 60 provinces for the government’s campaign of its proposed amendments to the Constitution.
Through its Balangayan 2019 roadshow campaign, the DILG has collected some 22,469 signatures so far from various citizens, local chief executives, barangay officials, Sangguniang Kabataan members, and non-government organizations, among others, who pledged their continuous support to push for “equality provisions” in the charter.
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the strong show of support from the various mayors, governors, and barangay captains, and signatures gathered in the roadshows will be submitted to both the Senate and the House of Representatives in January next year.
“As soon as we’re done with the roadshows in February, we will submit these signatures and statements of support to Congress for their appreciation and appropriate action. So we expect more and more people will come to support our call in the other 21 provinces we have not yet visited,” Malaya said.
Malaya also noted that Task Force CORE is reaching out to all areas of the country especially the far-flung areas.
This is being done to fulfill its mandate to inform and educate as many Filipinos about the need to amend the 1987 Constitution to ensure government becomes more responsive to the needs of the poor in the regions.
“Through our CORE roadshows tagged as Balangayan, we will continue to do consultations in all provinces in the country, hear their voices, and discuss the merits of CORE to the lives of every Filipino. More and more LGUs are formalizing their support for our reforms when they are briefed about the CORE agenda,” he added.
House Constitutional Amendments Committee Chair Representative Rufus Rodriguez pointed out that in public consultations, there is a general consensus in favor of introducing amendments to the constitution and holding a plebiscite before the term of the President ends.
Malaya said the Task Force has joined Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in calling on the Senate to begin its own public hearings on proposed amendments to the Constitution.
“As soon as we’re called by the Senate, we will also submit to them the package of reforms we earlier submitted to the House which seeks to increase funds to the provinces, create a regional development authority, introduce political and electoral reforms, and lift the restrictive economic provisions of the constitution,” said Malaya.
He added that the DILG has relentlessly worked on ensuring the entire executive branch is on board the CORE agenda of the President by leading the Cabinet effort to synthesize the Administration’s proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution under Task Force CORE.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año chairs the Task Force, while Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is co-chair.
Appearing at the Public Consultation on Constitutional Change Issues held at the University of the Philippines-Iloilo City recently, Malaya submitted the second set of proposed constitutional amendments covering political and electoral reforms to the House committee on constitutional amendments.
DILG-Task Force CORE also submitted this August a list of “equality provisions” to empower the regions through the transformation of the Regional Development Council to the Regional Development Authority.
This move would grant that body full powers to decide which development projects are to be approved and implemented, and economic provisions to give the regions more power and resources to catch up with the economy of the richest regions in Luzon led by Metro Manila.
Malaya made the statement as part of a year-end report as the administrator of the DILG’s Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reforms (DILG-CFCR), which was formed to lead the information and education campaign for constitutional reforms that the President directed to be undertaken when he took office in 2016.