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Philconsa supports federalism proposal

The president of the Philippine Constitution Association strongly rallied behind president-elect Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s proposed federal form of government.

House Independent Bloc Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who heads the oldest and respectable association of legal luminaries in the country, cited the need to revise the Constitution, believing that a shift from the current unitary system of government to the federal system would guarantee inclusive economic growth for all ordinary Filipinos.

“We support the legislative agenda of incoming President Duterte, including his proposal to push a federal form of government,” Romualdez said.

He said Philconsa officials and members will convene soon to tackle Duterte’s proposal.

“Philconsa officials will meet soon to discuss this very important measure that would guarantee development in the countryside,” Romualdez, who is pushing for the empowerment of local government units, said.

Davao del Norte Rep. Anthony del Rosario earlier filed House Joint Resolution No. 39 urging members of Congress to submit to the electorate the question of calling a Constitutional Convention to propose revision of the 1987 Constitution to establish a federal system of government.

He expressed strong belief that it would be “more prudent, participatory, and democratic” to submit to the electorate the question of calling a Constitutional Convention to dispel any doubts that the revision of the Constitution is being sought to advance political and economic interests of a chosen few.

“Great inequality across the regions, poverty in the countryside, and rebellions that feed on social inequities remain a challenge after more than 27 years since the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution,” Del Rosario said.

Article 17, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution provides that Congress can directly call a Constitutional Convention by a vote of two-thirds of all its members or submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention by a majority vote of all its members.

House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” R. Belmonte Jr. earlier sought the comprehensive and thorough scrutiny of Duterte’s proposal to shift the system of government to federal, fearing that it may negatively impact some areas in the country, particularly poverty-stricken provinces.

Belmonte, vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, warned that if not carefully studied, federalism may be a bane for poor provinces that are relying on the national government for their operational funding.

“It requires a lot of study because it seems their understanding of a federal state is that the country will be divided into states and each state will have autonomy to run its own affairs while leaving only a small portion thereof for national defense and foreign affairs,” he said.

The House chief cited the need for the incoming administration to find ways to ensure more equitable distribution of funds among the regions.