Expect the move to shift to a federal system government to go full-blast in 2018. This developed as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez bared that by January 2018 the House of Representatives and the Senate will convene into a constituent assembly to deliberate on the proposed constitution for a federal system of government.
While President Duterte has acknowledged that interest in the shift to a federal system has yet to perk up, the government will nevertheless continue to push it.
It’s one of his key campaign promises, believing that such structural change in our government is necessary to unleash economic growth in the countryside and address the unequal distribution of government resources.
More importantly, federalism would defuse the ticking time bomb in Mindanao where decades-long resentment of our Muslim brothers over their treatment by imperial Manila has festered and given birth to armed secessionist movements.
The clamor of the two biggest rebel groups in Mindanao—the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)–for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law shows their desire for autonomy or self-governance, which is the key feature of a federal system.
Of course, we can also expect strong opposition from those who have been entrenched in power for so long. Any deep structural change in the system of government would upset the political dynamics in the country and bring uncertainty to their political future.
Amid such scenario, it is imperative for the Duterte administration to show the Filipino people that it is bringing the nation in the right direction.
How the Executive Department implements the 2018 budget, particularly the use of funds allocated for important infrastructure projects, as well as the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), will have a significant impact on the administration’s push for federalism.
What is most important is for the government to drum up not only public attention to the proposed new constitution for a federal system, but also to keep them involved in the discussion.
It is equally crucial for everyone to follow the issues and take part in the discussions on a federal system since it is the entire Filipino people who will finally decide whether or not to put in place a new constitution. In short, we must know what we are doing for, after all, we are in this together.