Rushing shift to federalism may create suspicion among Pinoys, expert warns

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2018 03:56 PM

FILE PHOTO: An activist joins an anti-charter change protest at the People Power Monument in Quezon City, May 2018. Protesters slammed government's move to shift the form of government to federalism, saying this would not benefit the poor. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Rushing the shift to federalism will create an environment of suspicion among Filipinos, a public policy expert warned Saturday.

Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, explained that government's insistence on changing the country's system of government to a federal one might foster suspicion among Filipinos.

"I don't think this is a federalist moment yet," he told ANC.

"There are more pressing issues and I guess if they try to rush this, it would create more suspicion rather than support for federalism," he added.

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President Rodrigo Duterte has approved a proposed draft of the revised organic law and is set to endorse it to Congress.

If adopted, the proposal will pave the way for a federal form of government, a shift that the President had promised during the May 2016 electoral campaign, believing this would help uplift the country's impoverished regions. 

Mendoza explained that the government should first address more important issues such as inflation and job creation instead of the federalism push.

He added that more public discussions on federalism should be held to keep Filipinos informed.

"Most of our people don't even understand our present constitution. They are less aware of it, they are not even very aware of federalism itself," he said.

Mendoza also warned against House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's pronouncements that it would be "practical" to postpone the mid-term elections next year to facilitate charter change.

"It's a bad idea. It will create more suspicion on the federalism initiative rather than support for it. I think the people will not tolerate such a scenario and it's something they should not pursue," he said.