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Duterte still keen on federalism – Palace

Amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that he does not intend to change the entire Constitution but merely revise a few economic provisions, Malacañang said he is not abandoning his push to shift to a federal system of government.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, President Duterte is still keen on federalism and was just expressing an idea since Congress is not prioritizing the Charter change.

“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,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

“What is important to him is certain provisions in the Constitution must be amended and that’s the judgment call of the Congress,” he added.

Panelo said Duterte feels that Congress is taking “too long” to act on moves to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution.

“Remember 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,” Panelo said.

“He is expressing an idea, as he tells us he is fond of shaking the trees. Maybe he wants reaction from those who want to respond to his idea,” Panelo added.

During Friday’s Peace Assembly for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in Cotabato City, Duterte said: “I am sure that with that — the fundamentals provided by the law and hopefully if we can amend the Constitution, not all, but a few of the economic provisions and some.”

Panelo said Duterte has previously mentioned he wants to liberalize the entry of foreign investments – one of the changes he is eyeing in the Constitution.

“The federalism idea of the President remains. (It) will always be there because he believes in it,” Panelo added, noting Duterte remains optimistic that the shift to federalism will take place before the end of his term in 2022.

Duterte, the country’s first President from Mindanao, has made federalism one of his major campaign promises during the 2016 elections. He tasked a Consultative Committee composed of justices, ex-legislators, lawyers, academics, among others, to draft a federal charter which has been submitted to Malacañang and is now gathering public feedback.

Duterte also created the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism to raise public awareness on federalism after survey results showed it is the least of Filipinos’ concerns.#