July 22, 2019 at 12:10 am
President Rodrigo Duterte will unlikely fulfill his promises that there will be an overhaul in our current political system and changes in the Constitution, analysts said.
In his three remaining years in Malacañang, a shift into a federal form of government is impossible and the proposed changes in the constitution will be a "hard sell," since the lawmakers will set their sights on the 2022 elections, the analysts added.
Federalism did not appeal to the public because even the administration was "never on the same page regarding federalism," Michael Yusingco told Manila Standard.
Yusingco, a senior research fellow of Ateneo School of Government, noted that the country's economic managers publicly opposed some provisions in the Federal Charter drafted by the consultative committee formed by the President.
Last year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the ambiguous and unclear provisions in the proposed draft Charter "could result in dire, irreversible economic consequences.”
"If the administration cannot offer unified and coherent messaging, then Filipinos will never fully comprehend their federalism initiative. Hence, Filipinos will be understandably unwilling to express full support for it," Yusingco said.
President Duterte himself was indecisive on pushing federalism, he added.
Duterte, the first chief executive from Mindanao, has made federalism one of his major campaign promises in the 2016 elections, but it was only in 2018 when efforts to push for this new system of government went in full-swing.
It was only on July 9 last year that a Federal Constitution was drafted and handed to the President, with four years left on his clock until his term expires in 2022.
Ela Atienza, chairperson of the UP Department of Political Science, also said that the momentum of the federal shift was lost after the passage of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
BARMM, the autonomous entity which abolished the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, installed more power and resources, and a larger territory in that region.
The Bangsamoro region was made during the peace deal between the government and some Moro leaders, which pacified some of them, consequently weakened the call for federalism.
UP Political Science Professor Dennis Blanco also said that federalism will no longer push through because there was no public clamor and participation.
In a survey conducted last year by the Social Weather Stations, only 37 percent of Filipinos support the shift to a federal system of government while only one out of four Filipinos are aware of what it is.
Last month, President Duterte scrapped federalism, saying it was unlikely to happen. He has since then pushed for charter change.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform said in an interview that, taking a cue from the President, the administration will instead push for reforms in the 1987 Constitution.
Among the proposed changes are banning political dynasties, reforming the party-list system, and strengthening political parties.
But analysts are also pessimistic that a Charter change will take into effect before the President steps down from the Palace.
Atienza, however, said that Duterte's allies in Congress may push for "smaller and incremental changes" in the Charter, especially that the President is still enjoying high trust and approval ratings.