Federalism not an important election issue: Pimentel

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2019 01:33 PM | Updated as of May 10 2019 02:51 PM

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MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's federal agenda is "not a priority" election issue, his ally PDP-Laban President Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Friday, admitting that he did not push for the proposed shift in campaign sorties across the country.

Federalism is "not a good topic" to discuss during elections because it is "too complicated," Pimentel told ANC's Early Edition.

Each candidate is only given about 5 minutes to speak in every sortie and the more "pressing concern of the people are jobs, war against crime and corruption," he said.

"Federalism is not a priority from the point of view of the people because a lot of them still do not understand what the concept is about," said Pimentel, among the Senate's key proponents of the shift in the form of government.

The President's allies in the legislature intend to revisit federalism proposals after the election, he said.

Duterte earlier formed a consultative committee that drafted a federal charter but did not endorse its final output to Congress.

The House of Representatives drafted its own version that included the removal of term limits for elected officials.

Some lawmakers rebuked the House's version describing it as "self-serving" and should be considered "dead on arrival" once passed to the Senate.

Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio had also expressed opposition to the proposed change, saying some areas are not yet ready for a federal form of government.

"Kung makikita niyo ang Mindanao is an area na mayroong mga ‘kingdoms,’ mga local politicians, local warlords. I do not think na tama ibigay ang mas malaking powers kapag ganoon ang set up ng isang lugar,” she earlier said. 

(If you’ll see Mindanao, it is an area filled with ‘kingdoms’ of local politicians, local warlords. I do not think it’s right we grant them wider powers.)

“Kasi baka mag-worsen ang situation ng mga lugar, especially sa mga lugar na hindi pa ready na tumanggap ng dagdag na responsibilities or dagdag na power ang mga local officials.”

(The situation might worsen in areas where local officials are not yet ready for additional responsibilities and powers.)

The President has been pushing for a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government, under which the country will be divided into states, in hopes of spurring the development in provinces left behind under centralized governance.