Gov: No need for threats over Cha-cha
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez need not make threats to push the shift to a federal form of government through Charter change (Cha-cha) because it already had widespread support, according to a governor from President Duterte’s bailiwick.
Antonio Rafael del Rosario of Davao del Norte was reacting to the Speaker’s speech before officials of Iloilo province on Thursday where he said local governments that did not support federalism should expect “zero budget” from the House.
“I am not the type to force anyone. If you don’t join us, okay. I respect that. It’s your right. But like I say, you should also respect my right to give you zero budget, right?” Alvarez said.
Alvarez urged local officials to support Cha-cha “for the welfare of everyone.”
“I think the threat was unnecessary because the leagues of provinces, cities, municipalities and even barangays support President Duterte and the move for federalism,” Del Rosario, one of the remaining Liberal Party (LP) members in Mindanao, said on Friday.
Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista, also an LP stalwart, backed del Rosario’s statement.
“I also support federalism,” Evangelista said.
Another pro-federalism Mindanao governor and LP member, who requested anonymity, said local officials should not be forced to toe the administration’s line because “we are still in a democracy.”
Davao Occidental Gov. Claude Bautista, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said he also believed that majority of Mindanao governors and officials were in favor of the shift to federalism.
In his speech, Alvarez also urged voters to reject senators who were against federalism.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said he wasn’t worried about such negative campaigning, which had not made a dent on election results based on his 30-year experience as a politician.
“On the other hand, if politicians with high trust ratings campaign against a politician directly or personally, that’s a different story,” Sotto said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said senators were willing to face the people on their stand on federalism.
Their objection to revising the Constitution was due to the alleged “brazen move” taken by the House of Representatives to railroad the Cha-cha, he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said pushing for a constituent assembly even without Senate participation, as had been stated by Alvarez, would be tyrannical and would establish a “pweradalism.”
She also said Alvarez’s zero budget threat was a “vulgar abuse of power.”
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian lamented the resort to threats, adding that “the only clear benefactors” of Cha-cha were politicians who wanted to “perpetuate themselves [in] power.” —REPORTS FROM ALLAN NAWAL, DIVINA SUSON, FRINSTON LIM, DJ YAP AND JOCELYN R. UY
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