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Palace not giving up yet on federalism shift

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has not totally conceded on efforts to shift to a federal form of government as it pointed out that the Duterte administration still had three years left to make it happen.

“I think it is not over yet. We still have three years left,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ.

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Panelo noted that amending the 1987 Constitution might be done through a constitutional convention after the Senate and the House of Representatives disagreed on convening through a constituent assembly.

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“They had a problem on how to constitute themselves. The Senate and the members of the House could not agree on this. But that is not the only way to amend the Constitution. It could be also through a constitutional convention,” Panelo explained.

Asked if federalism could still become a reality during the Duterte administration, Panelo said: “I think so, yes. There is always the light at the end of tunnel.”

He made the remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte called on lawmakers to amend the Constitution and change the nation even if they were no longer interested in pushing for federalism.

The House has approved its version of a draft Charter, which retains the presidential form of government, but allows Congress to create federal states and lift term limits.

However, the Senate has yet to pass a counterpart bill on constitutional amendments.

Information drive

As this developed, a Malacañang official is just waiting for the go signal to begin the government’s federalism information drive.

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Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) chief Martin Andanar said a previous order from the President and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to conduct an information campaign was still in effect.

In an interview over dzIQ radio, Andanar said it was difficult for him to say if the shift to a federal form of government would still push through, given President Duterte’s latest remark.

“Even Sen. Christopher Go, who is closest to the President, said it seems federalism is unlikely. So I don’t want to say anything about it,” he said.

Andanar added: “But then again, we still have a mandate and order from the President and Medialdea to continue with our federalism campaign.”

He said they were just waiting for the go signal from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is chief of the task force on federalism.

Andanar added: “I can’t say that it’s temporarily stopped, but we are awaiting their decision and go signal as to when we will meet again on the issue.”

Last year, the PCOO was tapped for the info campaign on federalism, which was marred by the “Pepedederalismo” video of PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Charter change, federalism, Rodrigo Duterte, Salvador Panelo
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