Duterte: Polls on federalism in 2 yrs
DAVAO CITY—Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte projected a two-year timetable to submit to a referendum his proposal to dismantle the current presidential, unitary form of government and put in place a federal one.
Duterte said he would give himself up to two years to submit the federalism proposal to a plebiscite or a referendum.
“Not later than two years, we will submit the (federalism) issue for a plebiscite or a referendum,” Duterte said.
He reiterated that nothing short of federalism could appease the restless Moro population, whose high expectations from the outgoing administration was doused by the failure of Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In a press conference here, Duterte said he would create a commission to accept proposals on the switch to a federal form of government.
The commission, he said, would have Moros, Christians and lumad as members.
Prior to the election campaign, Duterte has gone around the country to promote federalism, saying the current system of government is no longer working.
The commission that would be created, Duterte said, would also include experts on the federal form of government.
Duterte has been consistent in his criticism of the unitary, presidential form of government saying it has led to unequal distribution of wealth.
The commission’s main task, Duterte said, would be to start the discussion on how the country could effect the shift to a federal form of government.
“After that, I will call for a constitutional convention and will have to ask the Filipino people about the need for a federal system of government,” said the incoming President.
The 1987 Constitution, ratified under the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, provides for a unitary form of government, which needs to be amended if the country is to switch to federalism.
Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, tagged as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, said the federalism campaign of the Duterte administration would render “moot” the pending BBL.
But a top leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) raised a howl of protest over Alvarez’s statement that negotiations for a settlement with the Moro people would have to start from scratch.
“He (Alvarez) does not know what he is talking about,” said Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator.
“What are we going to do with our 17 years of negotiations?” Iqbal said.
Iqbal said the MILF would reject a restart of negotiations and was amenable only to an enhancement of BBL.
He also protested Alvarez’s statement that there was no public consultation on the BBL.
Iqbal said Alvarez was not aware of the more than 200 public hearings held on the BBL nationwide.
Muslimin Sema, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, also said Alvarez’s position would not help resolve the decades-old conflict in Mindanao. Germelina Lacorte with reports from Jeoffrey Maitem and Charlie Senase, Inquirer Mindanao
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