The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomes “the willingness and open-mindedness” of senators to discuss constitutional reform with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We appreciate the Senate’s openness to a dialogue with President Duterte on federalism. We hope that when the time comes for them to decide on the matter, they will objectively choose what’s best for the country,” says DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya.
Malaya says the proposed shift to federalism remains to be one of the President’s key platform agenda and the unequivocal support of the higher chamber to this effort is necessary to realize his vision.
“The draft federal charter prepared by the Consultative Committee (Concom) is a product of five months of rigorous consultations and dialogues with different stakeholders. We, therefore, trust that our esteemed Senators would be able to appreciate the wisdom and intent behind this move that is expected to bring about the relevant change that the President has promised,” he says.
Early this week, Senators Ralph Recto, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Grace Poe said they were willing to listen to the President’s pitch for Federalism while the Senate committee on constitutional amendments is still conducting hearings on Charter change proposals.
Work for public awareness continues
Meanwhile, Malaya says the Department will continue to work closely with the members of the Concom after the committee wrapped up its work and disbanded last week.
“The Concom has done an excellent job in drafting the proposed model for constitutional reform, but the work for public awareness isn’t over. The DILG will thus continue to work hand-in-hand with the former Concom members in making people understand Federalism,” he says.
He adds that the DILG will be tapping former Concom members as resource speakers in various federalism information activities namely, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., Atty. Antonio Arellano, Professor Edmund Tayao, Dean Julio Teehankee, Professor Eddie Allih, among others.
Since June, the Department has been collaborating with Concom members and bringing experts to the regions to explain Federalism to the people at the grassroots level.
“We have visited six cities thus far and would still need the assistance of the Concom in our public awareness thrust for the rest of the remaining regions,” says Malaya.
The DILG has so far brought its Federalism roadshow to Dumaguete, Cebu, Baguio, Legazpi, Davao, and Tacloban.
With 12 more regions in the pipeline, the Department faces many more challenges ahead.
“We are committed to disseminating right and research-based information to all Filipinos, so when the time comes for the people to vote, they are well-equipped in choosing what they believe is best for the country,” says Malaya.