The Duterte Administration will relentlessly pursue constitutional reform as its key political reform agenda in honor of the late Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. whose belief in democracy and federalism inspired the former Mayor of Davao City to seek the presidency in 2016, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said today.
Malaya said Pimentel’s pursuit of reforms to effect a comfortable life for every Filipino is the foundation of the President’s agenda of constitutional reform in a bid to address the endemic ills of Philippine society like crime and corruption in government and poverty, especially among regions farthest from the capital.
“We are all privileged to have Senator Pimentel give all his life to democracy and people empowerment as he did in fighting the dictatorship and in pushing meaningful political reforms like devolution, local autonomy and federalism as a way of giving every Filipino equal access to and opportunity to pursue a better life and future,” Malaya said.
“We will seek to honor Tatay Nene’s reformist political principles by ensuring we enshrine the equality provisions in our Constitution,” he added.
The DILG Undersecretary pointed out that the President himself had suggested to both chambers of Congress to open the 1987 Constitution to amendments to correct flaws that had worsened instead of solving the economic and political gap among the regions as shown by the disparities in economic development across the regions.
“Senator Pimentel pursued decentralization and federalism because he believed that this would raise the economies of the poor regions as they get more say and more funds in pursuing programs to speed up their development,” he said.
“Senator Pimentel wanted the Administration to build a bridge for the next generation of Filipinos to pursue a better life in the future,” he said. “We will honor this through constitutional reforms that he had advocated all his life,” Malaya added.
In line with this, Malaya said, the Cabinet-level Task Force CORE (Constitutional Reform) is now finalizing the amendments it would push in line with the calibrated strategy of the administration.
Among the constitutional reforms that the DILG is advocating is the institutionalization of a clear provision in the Constitution about the Supreme Court’s Mandanas Ruling which increases the internal revenue allotment of all Local Government Units, Malaya said.
He said the DILG also supports a proposal to empower the regions thru the transformation of the existing Regional Development Council (RDC) into a Regional Development Authority (RDA) that would have full powers to decide which development projects would be approved and funded instead of the current limit to mere recommendation to the Executive Branch.
Malaya said Task Force CORE is also finalizing discussions on key political and economic reforms to equalize opportunities for elective posts and open up the economy to foreign investments that are currently limited by the 1987 Constitution. ###