Nueva Ecija execs start federalism ball rolling
PALAYAN CITY—A homegrown party in Nueva Ecija province is rallying support for President Duterte’s campaign for a federal type of government.
On Monday, at least 150 former and incumbent officials gathered at a local hotel and called for constitutional amendments to begin the process of shifting to a federal government.
“We have closed ranks to prepare for any eventuality, like the move toward federalism and changes in the political system,” said former Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, reelected chair of the Unang Sigaw Partido ng Bayan.
Umali formed the party in 2010 with former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. The party’s primary aim was to encourage Nueva Ecija residents to help shape “the province’s political, social and economic future.”
Umali completed his third and final term as governor in June. He was succeeded by his wife, former Rep. Czarina Umali, who attended the Monday gathering.
During the meeting, at least 20 mayors, 14 vice mayors, 180 city and town councilors, five board members and six presidents of the Association of Barangay Captains took their oath as new members of Unang Sigaw.
They also elected Peñaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis as the party’s executive vice chair; Mayors Nerivi Martinez (Talavera), Nestor Alvarez (Science City of Muñoz), Ricardo Padilla (Bongabon) and Emerson Pascual (Gapan City) as district vice chairs; Mayor Lovella DG. Belmonte-Espiritu (Zaragoza) as secretary general; and Mayor Librado Santos (General Natividad) as treasurer.
“Talk is rife that local officials in other provinces are joining PDP-Laban and are supporting the call of Mr. Duterte for federalism and constitutional amendments. We are opening our doors here in Nueva Ecija for such dialogues,” Umali said in his speech.
President Duterte has given priority to a move to shift to a federal form of government.
Mr. Duterte said federalism is an opportunity for Moros, Christians and “lumad” in Mindanao to break free from what he called the stranglehold of “imperial Manila.”
“I need to get support (for federalism) because if you reject a change of government, we will continue to be at the receiving end of the decisions that come from Manila,” he said in a recent speech.
He said oligarchs, who benefit from the system, will continue to resist change.
“They will say it’s not viable. They will distribute the power and the goodies only to the rich, that’s why they are resisting, they really do not want it because it will destroy the power vortex,” Mr. Duterte said.
“That is why I am so passionate about getting into a new setup, because imperial Manila controls everything,” he said. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
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