MANILA - Despite being hardly mentioned during President Rodrigo Duterte's 2-hour State of the Nation Address, the push for a federal form of government remains alive, according to a PDP-Laban official.
Jonathan Malaya, executive director of the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute, said their group conducted constitution drafting sessions in Tagaytay last week.
One topic discussed during the sessions was whether or not the government should maintain the presidential system or adopt a semi-presidential model under the proposed federal government.
"I think the consensus was that federalism should be the focus of the changes in the Constitution," the PDP-Laban official told ANC on Tuesday.
He said the group agreed that the main point of adopting a federal form of government is to diminish the control of "imperial Manila" over the regions.
Malaya said former Chief Justice Renato Puno graced PDP-Laban's session in Tagaytay to express support and to give them a glimpse of what the judiciary could look like under a federal government.
"[Puno] mentioned that he wants the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to be limited. He said during his term, there are too much cases being forwarded to the Supreme Court," he said.
Meanwhile, Malaya said they do not see the proposed Bangsamoro region and, possibly, an autonomous Cordillera region will not affect the push for federalism, as both can exist under that form.
Malaya said PDP-Labani is optimistic that the shift to federalism will be successful. He said groups like the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) of Nur Misuari have already expressed support for the shift to a new form of government.
"It's there, and it's part of the continuing priorities of the Duterte administration. But it's also a part of a long and evolving process so it may take some time," he said.
Malaya is now calling on President Duterte to appoint people to the 25-man committee who will be helping in drafting changes in the constitution.