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Padilla errs in saying Robredo blocked Duterte’s federalism agenda

President Rodrigo Duterte set aside his campaign for a federal form of government because Filipinos were not ready to accept the change and this might affect his war on illegal drugs.

It was not, as senatorial aspirant and actor Robin Padilla wrongly claimed, because Vice President Leni Robredo and the political opposition blocked it.

In his speech at the Uniteam’s campaign rally in Baguio City on April 17, which was live-streamed on his official Facebook page, Padilla said at the 20:50 mark:

Talagang si presidente [Duterte], federal! Gusto niya talaga magkaroon ng autonomiya lahat ng mga tribo pero ano nangyari? Dahil sa pangongontra ng kanyang bise presidente at mga nahalal na senador na kontra sa pederalismo… walang nangyari sapagkat walang ginawa ang oposisyon kundi kontrahin si presidente (President Duterte wants a federal system! He really wants all tribes to have autonomy but what happened? Because of the opposition of his vice president and elected senators who are against federalism…nothing happened because the opposition did nothing but oppose the president).

Duterte had made the shift to federalism one of his key agenda, saying this would help address insurgency and weed out corruption.

In 2018, he formed a Consultative Committee to draft a federal constitution. The House of Representatives was mostly supportive of the proposed change but the Senate was lukewarm to it.

However, Duterte first expressed his intention to set aside his federalism agenda in 2019 and instead push for a constitutional reform to “change this nation.”

Last February, the president said his proposal to adopt a federal form of government was “a futile endeavor,” noting that Filipinos are not yet ready to accept it as they lack understanding of the system.

He said:

The Filipino people is not ready. It is not accepted. Akala siguro na ‘yung nag-aadvocate ng federalism na wala akong ginawa. Alam mo nagkamali kayo. Every now and then, I call the mayors. Noon pa, pumupunta ako, kinakausap ko ‘yung mga tao (The Filipino people are not ready. It is not accepted. Those advocating for federalism think I did not do anything. You are wrong. Every now and then, I call the mayors. Even before, I have been going to places and talking to people).

Also in 2019, Duterte said his other reason for setting aside his campaign for a shift to federalism was his campaign against illegal drugs. Local government units may not be well equipped to take on the problem of illegal drugs under a federal setup, he said.

The president said:

It will be a good setup someday, but today when we are all in a quandary of how to solve even the smallest (problem) doon sa ano. Itong federalism maganda ‘to. But if you leave it to just to the local governments to do it, madelikado especially sa drugs (Federalism is good. But it will be dangerous to leave it to just the local government especially when it comes to drugs).
Papasukan ng drugs ‘yan. Walang control. Buti dito may maghawak eh (Drugs will get in. There is no control. At least here [at the national government]we have control).

Robredo has said the country was not ready for a different form of government and federalism may not solve the country’s problems. She advocated instead for a strong political party system.

She said in a radio interview in late January:

Ang mga advocate ng federal form of government para sa akin pwede itong pag-usapan ng masinsinan. Pero kung ako ‘yung tatanungin niyo, hindi pa tayo handa. Hindi pa tayo handa kasi kapag tinignan natin ‘yung lahat ng regions all over the Philippines, grabe ‘yung imbalance sa kakayahan ng mga regions (We can discuss the federal form of government intensively. But if you ask me, we are not yet ready for it. We are not ready because if we look at all the regions all over the Philippines, there’s a huge imbalance in their capacity).

The Facebook live video has generated over 970,000 views, about 96,000 reactions, 6,800 shares and 8,400 comments as of writing. (GD)


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