Mid-term polls to decide if federalism wins, loses
ANGELES CITY—The outcome of senatorial elections in May 2019 would be important to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to shift to a federal form of government, former House Deputy Speaker, Lorenzo Tañada III, said at a forum here.
“If the [allies of the President] can get three-fourths [of the 24 seats] in the Senate, they can much quickly push for Charter change and federalism,” Tañada told the forum organized by the People’s Campaign Against Tyranny at the Holy Angel University here on Wednesday.
“Because there’s less opposition in the House, the battleground is in the Senate,” he said.
Proponents of federalism, who support Mr. Duterte’s bid to break the domination of the so-called “Imperial Manila” or are part of a crusade driven by foreign businesses to remove sections of economic protectionism from the 1987 Constitution, were hampered by what Tañada referred to as tactical mistakes since a government-backed push for federalism was started in December 2016.
He said these errors included the jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima, the ouster of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and issues that led to a change of House leadership from Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez to former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is serving her last term.
Alvarez had insisted on converting Congress into a constituent assembly which would vote as a single body for a new federal constitution, Tañada said, adding that this had alienated senators who wanted separate voting by the two chambers.
Under Arroyo, the House had agreed to vote independently from the Senate on the proposed federal constitution that recommended the creation of 18 federal states out of the current 17 regions.
Tañada said the “real push” for federalism occurred when Mr. Duterte appointed 22 members of a constitutional commission led by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a staunch advocate for federalism.
“But it’s best to remain cautious this September,” he said.—TONETTE OREJAS
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