In light of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement to prioritize addressing inflation over changing the constitution, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) says the administration will not go back on its promise to push for a federal form of governance.
“We are one hundred percent behind the President’s agenda, and while we are currently giving priority to the fight against inflation we believe the shift to a federal system of government will also contribute to this effort in the long-term through the distribution of more resources and greater powers to the region,” says DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya.
The DILG Spokesman said that Roque's statement was only about making inflation the most urgent concern and does not diminish the importance of Federalism. "When he said that federalism (and all other issues) was sidelined, he did not see it as diminishing the importance of federalism. He only meant that of all the issues, addressing inflation was the most urgent concern,” says Malaya.
He explains that a federal shift would give resources and greater power to the regions, allowing them to build better transportation infrastructure that will lower costs of bringing agricultural produce to the markets, and thus lower and stabilize prices.
The presidential spokesperson has clarified that the administration will not abandon the campaign for a federal shift, but admits that there remains a need for more discussions and information dissemination.
The DILG lauds the Palace for waging a battle against inflation and will help the local executives deal with such by directing police forces all over the regions to go after any and all traders who may be unduly causing higher prices of basic goods.
“We will intensify the campaign against hoarders and market manipulators in the same vein that we are pursuing our commitment to the President’s reform agenda,” says Malaya.
Aside from that, the DILG also directed all LGUs to activate their price monitoring councils and to monitor compliance with Standard Retail Prices by businesses in their jurisdictions.
He says that federalism remains to be one of the top concerns of the administration and promises that the DILG, together with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will intensify its efforts in explaining federalism to the Filipino people so that they may be convinced of its necessity.
According to him, changing the constitution and establishing a federal system is one of the pillars of the Duterte administration and that federalism is the more long-term solution to reign in inflation and price manipulation by business cartels and smugglers.
The Department believes that while it’s of critical importance to address the pressing problem of rising prices in the country, the Duterte administration will never abandon the federalism campaign.
“The president is fully committed to his programs of anti-drugs, anti-corruption, Build Build Build, and constitutional reforms. In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte himself has even committed to join us in our provincial sorties to personally campaign for federalism,” he adds.
According to Malaya, it is therefore up to the DILG and all of government to keep spreading public awareness on the President’s desire for lasting change in the country.
“We are just starting to campaign full blast and thus far we have covered a lot of ground. It is very obvious in the regions that the local governments are excited and energized about federalism,” says Malaya.
He notes the support that constitutional reform gains in the regions after federalism has been properly explained to the locals.
“Ang dami pong suporta na dumadating sa’min matapos ang bawat roadshow dahil doon nalalaman ng mga tao na ang pederalismo ay para sa ikinabubuti nila at ng buong Pilipinas,” says Malaya.
So far, the Department has been conducting massive information drives on federalism through its pioneer roadshows for federalism and forums.
The DILG has brought its roadshows to Dumaguete, Baguio, Cebu, Legazpi, Davao, Tacloban, Butuan, Cagayan De Oro, Isabela and Pampanga, all of which were successful in garnering support for federalism.