MANILA - The Duterte administration's push for charter change has been sidelined by efforts to contain soaring inflation in the country, a Palace spokesman said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said while the government’s “foremost priority” now is fighting inflation, this does not mean that the administration is abandoning the shift to federalism.
“Everything is sidelined now. Dahil hindi naman natin inaasahan talaga iyong pagtaas bigla ng presyo ng krudo at ng petrolyo,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
(Everything is sidelined now since we did not expect oil prices to spike suddenly.)
“Even the administration acknowledges na mas importanteng harapin iyong problema na malapit sa sikmura ng taumbayan at bagaman at hindi po natin inaabandona ang pederalismo.”
(Even the administration acknowledges that it’s more important to face the problems that are closer to the gut, but we are not abandoning the shift to federalism.)
The latest Pulse Asia survey showed “changing the constitution” the least urgent concern among Filipinos.
Roque added that federalism has also taken a backseat in Congress, which is now conducting budget deliberations.
Controlling inflation, increasing the pay of workers, and reducing poverty, meanwhile, are the top three most urgent concerns for Filipinos, based on the survey.
“Tingin ko naman pagkatapos ng budget ay puwedeng mapag-usapan muli ang pederalismo at puwedeng maging election issue din ang pederalismo,” he said.
(I think that after the budget deliberations, federalism will be back on the table and will even become an election issue.)
Rice, the main driver of food prices, saw an inflation of 7.1 percent in August, while the headline rate accelerated to 6.4 percent, exceeding government and market forecasts.
Duterte recently issued orders removing non-tariff barriers in the importation of agricultural products, as the country’s economic managers point out that the soaring inflation is supply driven.
The President has pitched federalism as a solution to the inequality among regions. But critics and even the country’s economic managers have raised apprehensions and questions over the proposal and its impact to the economy.