Summit aims to rekindle talks on federalism


MANILA — To bring talks on federalism back in focus, a summit will be held on Feb. 7 and 8, featuring well-known federalism advocates who are expected to discuss how this new system of government would benefit the country.

The National Federalism Summit, which will be led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other relevant agencies, will be held at the Rigodon Hall, Fiesta Pavilion of Manila Hotel.

Experts will discuss issues and strategies in the campaign for the country’s shift to a federal system of government.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año is expected to deliver a keynote speech followed by a press conference during the summit.

Members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom), tasked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to draft the proposed federalism charter, will also be holding talks on various topics related to federalism.

ConCom members expected to give talks on the first day of the summit include former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., Prof. Edmund Tayao, Prof. Eddie Alih and Julio Teehankee who will be discussing federal system’s salient features, structure, distribution of powers among others.

On the second day, former chief justice Reynato Puno, Arthur Aguilar, Randolph Parcasio, Virgilio Bautista, and Susan Ubalde-Ordinario will be the ConCom members discussing judicial, economic reforms, expanded human rights, practical application of federalism in the regions, and public accountability.

In October 2018, Duterte created an Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism (IATF) to raise public awareness on federalism amid survey results showing it is the least of Filipinos’ concerns.

Under Memorandum circular No. 52 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President on October 31, the IATF will take charge of “integrating, harmonizing, and coordinating ongoing efforts towards federalism and constitutional reform”.

The IATF is composed of Año or his equivalent as Chairperson; Secretary Menardo Guevarra of the Department of Justice, as Vice-Chairperson; and the heads of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary; Presidential Management Staff; Presidential Communications Operations Office; Office of the Presidential Spokesperson; Presidential Legislative Liaison Office; Office of the Political Adviser; Commission on Higher Education; Development Academy of the Philippines; and University of the Philippines Law Center.

Malacañang earlier announced that the ConCom’s proposed federal charter is open to public feedback after some Cabinet members expressed apprehensions on the proposal’s economic aspects.

Duterte has admitted that although he could not convince everyone to support his push for federalism, the system of government will benefit the entire country through its wealth- and power-sharing feature.

The President said he believed that federalism would allow the country’s wealth and resources to be spread evenly among the regions.

Interior Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya earlier said that federalism perfectly aligns with the Bangsamoro’s hope for local autonomy.

Malaya assured that federalism will serve as the necessary push and support that Muslims in the region need for the autonomy they have been longing for.

Under the ConCom’s draft charter, there are 18 proposed federated regions composed of 16 symmetrical regions — existing regions plus the Negrosanon Federated Region, which will include the province of Siquijor; and two asymmetrical regions namely Bangsamoro and Cordillera.

The federated regions will be given equal opportunities to design their respective development plans without relying too much on the central government.

The ConCom’s proposed charter also features an anti-political dynasty provision that prohibits an incumbent official’s second-degree relatives from succeeding each other in office and limits the number of positions they can hold to only two — one national and one regional or local. (PNABy Azer Parrocha

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