President Rodrigo Roa Duterte re-emphasized that a federal government structural change is what the Philippines needs in his speech at the Philippine Development Forum: Sulong Pilipinas 2017 on August 9.
Duterte said that keeping the same type of government will also keep the same problems the country is facing. “But you will remember me for this. I am sure when I am gone, and everything is not all right, you will remember me,” he said.
Federalism will give more power for local government units, such as: taxes, business regulations and court establishment. Currently with the Philippines in a unitary government system, most decisions and programs are concentrated in the central government.
The President narrated different levels of corruption in the country as a call to push for change. “Tapos makita mo, maawa ka na… (Then you when you see them [the ordinary people], you will feel pity),” he said, giving different scenarios of filed cases between politicians and ordinary people, with the latter on the losing side.
He also touched the situation in Mindanao.
“If you do not reconfigure the unitary type of government now, which is the one that we’re using, and if there is no change in Mindanao, there will be no peace until the end of time for the Philippines,” he said.
One form of amendment is through forming a Constitutional Commission (ConCom). While this can be pricy, Duterte suggested that it can work comparing it with President Corazon Aquino’s term, “I suggest that we appoint 24 commissioners. Kung gusto ninyo, lahat ng nag-retire na mga (If you want, all the retired) justices, ilagay natin (let’s include them). Few civilians, about five.”
Duterte signed the Executive Order (EO) No. 10: Creating a Consultative Committee to review the 1987 Constitution last December 7, 2016, granting only six months to finish the constitution amendment.
The shift to federalism was part of Duterte’s platform as a candidate.