President Rodrigo Duterte is optimistic that Filipinos would support his administration’s push for the country’s shift to federalism, his top aide has said, amid the low public awareness about the proposed change in the system of government.
In a radio interview, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Duterte was confident that he would be able to convince the public by explaining to them the benefits of a federal government.
“Ito pong mga ganitong usapin tungkol sa pederalismo, inaasahan na ito ni Pangulong Duterte. Bukas po ang Pangulo kung ano man ang magiging problema nito in the long run, sa mga pagbabagong, lalong lalo na sa transition stage (President Duterte expects this kind of issue regarding federalism. The President is open to whatever its problem will be in the long run, on the changes especially in its transition stage),” Go said during in an interview with radio dzBB.
He added that Duterte has long been reaching out to the public across the country with hopes to increase awareness about the federal system of government among Filipinos.
“Nasa Kongreso na ho ito. Medyo long shot nga ho ito. Kasi po alam niyo matagal na kaming umikot ng Pangulo about sa Federalism 2015 pa hanggang 2016 at alam naman natin na ang pinaka-importante dito ay paano natin maipapaintindi sa mga tao, sa bayan, kung ano itong pederalismo [It’s now in Congress. It’s a long shot. Because you know we have long been going around from 2015 to 2016 to raise public awareness about federalism. And we all know what’s important here is how are we going to explain to the people, the nation, what really federalism is],” Go said.
“‘Yung magiging awareness nito. Kasi umiikot kami noon, hindi sila masyadong nakikinig about federalism.
Pinapakinggan nila ‘yung Pangulo [The people’s awareness about it. Because when we’re going around, the people did not really listen when we talked about federalism. But they listened to the President],” he added.
Duterte has been pushing for a federal government, saying it would decentralize the government and would empower the regions more.
Last month, the Consultative Committee (ConCom) submitted to Duterte the “Bayanihan Federalism,” which installs a federal government strong enough to glue the various federated regions and make them socially, economically and politically viable and sustainable.
A recent survey, however, showed that Charter change and federalism remain unpopular among Filipinos.
A Pulse Asia poll conducted last June suggested that 67 percent of Filipinos are not in favor of amending the 1987 Constitution while 62 percent are against the proposed shift to a federal system of government.
Malacañang has admitted that much work has to be done to spread awareness on Charter change.
In a recent interview, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the information campaign for federalism would start this month and would involve the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
“The roadshow for federalism will commence this month of August. Kasama po ‘yung mga materyales na ginawa ng DILG [This will include the materials created by the DILG], in coordination with academics, ‘yung mga miyembro din ng Consultative Committee [and members of the ConCom],” Roque said.
But Sen. Grace Poe, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass media, has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the funding of the information campaign to be spearheaded by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the ConCom that drafted the proposed federal Constitution.
Poe cited in her Senate Resolution 821 the controversial and risqué video of PCOO Assistant Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson that she said “reeks of impropriety” does not help “elevate public discourse” on the government’s effort to explain federalism.
Uson earlier defended her video, saying it was meant to get Filipinos to talk about federalism.
But ConCom spokesman Ding Generoso said the video was not part of their information drive for federalism.
In his State of the Nation Address on July 23, Duterte justified a federal Constitution, saying it would “truly embody the ideals and aspirations” of all Filipinos and create opportunities for growth.
“I am confident that the Filipino people will stand behind us as we introduce this new fundamental law that will not only strengthen our democratic institutions, but will also create an environment where every Filipino, regardless of social status, religion, or ideology, will have an equal opportunity to grow and create a future that he or she can proudly bequeath to the succeeding generations,” the President said.