President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday admitted that he could not convince everyone to support his push for federalism but noted that this new system of government will benefit the entire country through its wealth and power sharing feature.
“There’s a time for everything. I’ve been going around. I suppose you cannot convince everybody at one time that federalism is good for the country,” Duterte said in a televised interview on state-run PTV at the Malacañang Palace.
Duterte said federalism might not assure improved economic condition right away, but believes there is a chance it would spread the country’s wealth and resources evenly among the regions.
“It might help, it cannot guarantee prosperity kaagad (immediately) but it might help distribute the wealth of the nation among the local units,” he added.
He said federalism is “gaining ground” in the provinces because they have always been lagging behind Metro Manila and other urban areas in terms of development.
“In the provinces, it’s gaining ground kasi (because) historically, ang Maynila talaga yung pinaka maganda kasi binubuhos yung pera dito (Manila is doing well since it’s where most of the money goes) because it’s the capital region,” Duterte said.
He, however, said he wanted political and economic power distributed to empower local governments to help themselves by implementing their own measures to alleviate poverty.
Duterte said since he was elected as President, he might as well exhaust all his powers to push for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.
“Tutal presidente naman ako, e di lahat na (Since I’m already the President, why don’t we go all out),” Duterte said.
On July 9, Duterte received the proposed federal Charter drafted by his 22-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution chaired by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno.
Puno described the proposed Charter as one that “establishes federated regions that are socially, economically and politically viable and sustainable.”
“We divided the powers of government guided by the Filipino spirit of bayanihan where both the federal government and the federated regions govern the people less in competition but more in cooperation with one another and aligned with the maxim: the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” Puno said.
Under the draft federal Constitution, there are 18 federated regions composed of 16 symmetrical regions– existing regions plus Negrosanon Federated Region and two asymmetrical regions – Bangsamoro and Cordillera.
Bangasamoro and Cordillera have different designs from other regions because of their “identity-based demands,” said Ding Genroso, ConCom senior technical assistant and spokesperson.
Last month, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposed Federal Charter is now open for comments from the public.
Roque said the ConCom’s proposal as “a very good draft” but noted that both the government and ConCom are considering comments from all stakeholders to help improve the proposal.
Duterte will consider people’s comments before officially transmitting the proposed federal Constitution to Congress, Roque said.
“Even if the President was fully satisfied and has fully endorsed the whole product of the Consultative Committee, of course, as part of the public discourse, we’re open to remarks and feedback from the general public,” Roque said.