OZAMIZ CITY—Thousands of residents from this city and Misamis Occidental pledged their support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to shift from the present presidential form of government to a federal form in a gathering here on Monday.
The packed Medina gym saw mayors from different towns the province, hundreds of barangay captains from the city and the countryside, eager to hear the discussions on the salient points of the proposed federal form of government.
The Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Council—the political vehicle that worked for the election of the longtime Davao mayor in the elections last May—is spearheading the information, advocacy and grassroots groundwork for federalism.
Now, the MRRD-NECC is leading the People’s National Movement for Federalism (PeNamFed) to make sure Duterte’s campaign promise could be understood by every Filipino, and turn that promise into a reality.
San Luis, Batangas Mayor Samuel Ocampo, the group’s president, said that part of their commitment is people participation, for all to observe and understand what federalism is and why there is a need for it.
“What we’re are hoping is that by 2022, there will be a sitting first president of the federal republic, and we are hoping that by 2019, there will be a plebiscite for the shift towards federalism,” Ocampo said.
The mayor said they are hoping the plebiscite will be conducted together with the 2019 mid-term elections.
Ocampo said they are hoping people will support the move, “that there is no resistance from the people.”
The country’s current regional setup will make up the 18 federal states, the mayor added. “But we are flexible about it, we welcome any suggestions, or additional set-ups, for the suggestion for 20 to 25 states, but as of now, the regional areas will stand for the states.”
He said they are also studying the federal setup of other countries, but “we can copy their setup with a unique addition to our cultures, traditions, there are valid points that we can retain what works for us, and add that to the federal form of government,” Ocampo said.
Local government units can plot their self-determination and how they will run their state, he added. In addition, Indigenous Peoples and minorities will have an assured representation in the national government.
As opposed to current setup in national income, under the federal government, a federal state will only share 20 percent of its income to the national government.
Ocampo called the share as an “equalization fund” where it can be used for national spending and to help struggling states to level up with progressive states.
Urban Poor Commissioner Manuel Serra Jr. said the proposed federal shift is not an amendment of the constitution, but is a revision of the government.
Serra said the people will have to decide first if it wants the shift to federalism. “It needs people’s participation, and President Duterte will submit to the will of the people,” Serra said.
“Duterte wants a clean and efficient government,” he added.