Alvarez says some senators have presidential ambitions

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2018 11:05 AM | Updated as of Jan 22 2018 12:09 PM

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MANILA - (UPDATE) It is difficult to reach out to senators regarding the proposal to shift to a federal government because they have ambitions to become president, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday.

The House of Representatives and the Senate remain divided on whether they should vote jointly or separately should Congress convene as a constituent assembly to amend the charter, which is pursued by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to pave the way for the shift to federalism.

"Mahirap mag-reach out dahil may ambisyon 'yang mga 'yan na kumandidatong president. Sabihin nilang sinungaling ako. Ang daming may ambisyon diyan na mag-presidente," Alvarez told ANC's Headstart.

"Yung federal form of government, hindi ito maganda sa Presidente. Mas magandang mag-presidente ka kung unitary form of government kasi centralized ang power, centralized ang pera sa 'yo," he said.

Under the federalism proposal of Alvarez's PDP-Laban, a dual executive setup will be applied, with the president as the head of the state, chief diplomat, and commander in chief of the military. He also has the powers to appoint members of the judiciary.

The prime minister will function as the head of the government, dealing with day-to-day affairs such as domestic and economic policy. He also has the function of appointing members of the Cabinet.

Alvarez said he will not be the prime minister if the proposed federal government pushes through because he will be retiring by 2022, which is when the first election under the federal system will be held.

He said he expects support only from a few senators in his push for charter change, but he will be meeting with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who is president of PDP-Laban, this week.

He said the proposal has not yet been tackled in the Senate because the chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes is Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party.

"Uupuan talaga yan. Ako, ano ang gagawin ko? I would rather insist on the provisions of the Constitution kasi ginag*go na naman niya eh. Ginag*go niya, hindi niya inaaktuhan," he said.