MANILA - The government's constitutional reform (CORE) proposal does not include the cancellations of the 2022 elections, an official said Monday as critics questioned its timing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Critics should discuss the proposed provisions to the Constitution instead of the supposed ulterior motives of those campaigning for it, said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, administrator of the department's Federalism and Constitutional Reform program.
"Let me state for the record that there is nothing in the CORE proposal that are being pushed by the DILG which seeks to do away with the 2022 elections," he told ANC.
"That is a misfire because rather than discuss the issue itself, we’re trying to question the motives of those who are pushing for it which is a tragedy because we have never had a real national conversation about the issue and when are we going to have that? We have pushing this off for the past 6 administrations."
The agency aims to push for constitutional reform for greater regional distribution of resources especially during the time of a pandemic, Malaya said.
"We’d like to push for Constitutional reform so that there is greater regional distribution so the next time a pandemic comes, the entire Philippine economy will not shut down just because Metro Manila is a standstill because of a lockdown," he said.
"There has to be greater distribution of resources to the provinces in order to prepare ourselves for future pandemics."
Malaya said the interior department's CORE pushes for "surgical" amendments in 3 parts: greater resources to local governments, political and electoral reforms, and the lifting of the "economic restrictive provisions" of the Constitution.
"This has always been part of the agenda of the President. This is not a secret. This is not a last-minute inclusion into the agenda of the President," he said.
"This is just continuation of what has always been in the agenda of the administration. Now that we are in the last 2 years of the admin, we have to give it 1 final push if it will push through."
Some 1,000 town mayors have expressed support for the measure in the form of a resolution which will be presented to Congress as it resumes session, Malaya said.
The agency earlier drew criticism for continuing to gather signatures in support of the CORE campaign as the country battled COVID-19.