Duterte unhappy on sluggish Cha-cha in Congress; push for federalism stays
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed dismay over the slow-moving development of Charter change in Congress, Malacañang said Monday, three days after the Chief Executive said he might just opt to seek a revision of the Constitution’s economic provisions.
In a speech in Cotabato City on Friday, Duterte, who had been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government, said he was open to the idea of amending “not all” but just a “few economic provisions” of the Constitution.
Sought for comment, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte was not abandoning his desire for a shift to a federal form of government despite his openness to amend “just certain provisions” of the Constitution.
“Well, you know the President is a very creative person, if he feels that one method is not practical or cannot be realized, he goes to another mode. What is important to him is certain provisions of the Constitution must be amended and that is the judgment call of Congress,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
The Palace official said the President was “just expressing an idea.”
“As he tells us, he is fond of shaking the trees. So maybe he wants reaction from those who would want to respond to his idea,” he said.
“Congress has to do something about it,” he added.
He cited how Congress hasn’t made “serious moves” on the President’s desire for a shift to federalism.
“Perhaps what he is saying is it takes too long for Congress to act on it. You must remember that he has been advocating for a revision of the Constitution at the inception of his presidency, and Congress knew that. But Congress hasn’t taken serious moves to make it a realization,” he said.
Asked about what economic provisions Duterte wanted to revise in the 1987 Constitution, the president’s mouthpiece mentioned about “entry of foreign investments.”
“There is so much restriction, he wants to liberalize that,” he said.
Pressed if Duterte was not happy with the House version of a federal Charter authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Panelo said: “He (Duterte) didn’t say so, but what he wants is the Constitution be amended the soonest.”
Panelo, nevertheless, said the President remains “optimistic” the shift to a federal government would happen within his term.
“The President is optimistic that it will, because he knows that federalism will help the development of this country. It’s a matter of, I think, time on the part of Congress to do it,” he said.
Despite a change in his tone in pushing for federalism, Panelo said Duterte was not giving up his push for federalism.
“No not really, maybe what he’s just saying is prioritize this (economic revision) if you don’t like [federalism]. If you don’t want to rush federalism, then prioritize [the economic revision]. The federalism idea of the President remains. It will always be there, because he believes in it,” he said.
Panelo said he had talked to Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari and former Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan and said they were “not really opposing the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), but they feel that federalism to them is much better than the BOL.” /kga
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