Robredo on plans to shift to federalism — it has become ‘highly political, divisive’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2018 11:00 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2018 12:12 AM

Vice-President Leni Robredo with political-science and law students in Baguio. Ehla Rongalerios, ABS-CBN News

BAGUIO CITY—Vice-President Leni Robredo on Saturday said she favors constitutional amendments but not to the scale of reopening the whole Constitution.

"Sana 'di na i-reopen ang constitutional revision. Mag-introduce na lang sana ng bagong amendments. Just like in the US (United States), nagdadagdag na lang sila ng mga bagong amendment para maging timely," Robredo said in a speech before political-science and law students during a constitutional-reform forum here.

"Baka kasi pag ire-revise may ilan pang mabago sa constitution. Nakakatakot na in the guise of federalism, 'yung magagandang parte sa 1987 constitution mawawala. Shifting to a different form of government should be objective but this has highly become political and divisive."

The 19-member consultative committee (ConCom) headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno has opted for a shift from the present unitary-presidential system of government to federal-presidential. 

Robredo said she is not "for or against" federalism, the Duterte administration's preferred form of government.

"Federalism will provide a more efficient way in far-flung [areas], particularly du'n sa Mindanao. Di ako proponent ng for o against pero proponent ako ng health ng Philippines . . . and most of all, balanced discussion," she said.

Robredo said the ConCom should be expanded to include those with opposing views.

"'Yung sa'kin maraming members sa consultative commission na really a person of integrity. Marami du'n sa kanila ang mahuhusay pero 'pag tinignan mo 'yung membership, ang common sa kanila lahat sila for federalism," she said.

"Di pwede na magpapalit tayo ng constitution na iilan lang ang nag-uusap."

Robredo said the public should also be given more information on federalism.

"Pagbobotohan ito ng bayan. Ngayon maraming pagsubok. Barangay officials pinapalagay sa barangay hall, 'yes to federalism' pero pag tinanong mo sila about federalism di rin nila alam. Dapat may free-flowing discourse on the matter," she said.

Robredo said a local government unit's (LGU) capacity to handle autonomy and locally generated funds is important in considering a successful federal government.

"Ano ang datos? Dalawang regions lang ang kayang mag-stand, NCR and Region VI-A lang. Saan ba galing ang funds ng region? 'Yung unang funds is locally generated funds and IRA, sila lang ang mataas ang localy generated funds. Gaano ba ka strong 'yung capacity at competence ng LGU to handle authority and autonomy," she said.

"Second requirement [is] clan-based networks and systems of patronage do not dominate politics."

The 1987 Constitution mandates Congress to pass an anti-political dynasty law to prevent the consolidation of powers among entrenched clans. But lawmakers, most of whom are dynasty members, have failed to pass such a law.

The ConCom on Monday voted to include national (president, vice president) and barangay positions in the regulated prohibition on political dynasties. 

Voting 18-1, the ConCom decided that relatives within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity of an incumbent president or vice president should not be allowed to succeed the same official.

--Report from Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News