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DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya delivers a keynote speech on federalism as a Mindanao agenda at the Kusog Mindanaw 2019 Conference in Davao City.


Is federalism still a major agenda of President Duterte? DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya addressed the elephant in the room during Kusog Mindanaw's annual conference in Davao City last July 11, 2019. Here's the full transcript of his answer to the question:


DILG Usec. Malaya: Is federalism still a major agenda of the President? Yes. He issued Executive Order No. 10 which created the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution. Immediately after that he issued Memorandum Circular No. 52 which created the Inter-agency Task Force on Federalism. After which, the other week, he spoke before the Hugpong ng Pagbabago victory party and the President again emphasized the need for constitutional change. And just last Monday, in the oath-taking of new officials of the government, and I was there, the President again emphasized the need for charter change.


So what is the direction now?


I think we can take our cue from what the President himself said: “Kung ayaw n’yo ng pederalismo, okay lang. Ngunit baguhin n’yo ang konstitusyon”.


Now the President did not say “huwag ng mag pederalismo”. Ang sinabi ng Pangulo, “kung ayaw n’yo ng pederalismo, okay lang, but change the constitution”.


When you call for a change in the constitution, that means a lot of things. In other words, there will be a recalibration in the campaign. And this recalibration gives us more flexibility. Ang ibig sabihin, ang ating debate ngayon hindi na lang nakakahon sa pederalismo. Luluwag na po an ating debate ngayon. And this will also allow those who are critics of federalism, for example, ang ating mga kasamahan sa Department of Budget and Management, sa NEDA, sa DOF, those from the Bangko Sentral who are opposed to federalism, it will give them more flexibility and allow them to engage with us more. Kasi po noong una, ni ayaw nila kaming kausapin. Ayaw nila tayong kausapin. Ni kausap lang ayaw nila. But because of the direction of the President, opening up the debate to beyond federalism, pumayag na po silang makipag-usap sa atin. They are now going to work with us to determine how much money needs to be given to the regions, how much IRA… all of that allows us greater flexibility.


Also in the President’s speech before the oath-taking of new officials in Malacañang, he shared to the Filipino people that he has advised members of Congress to begin the process of amending the constitution. Kinausap po ng pangulo yung tatlong leading contenders sa speakership – si Lord Allan Velasco, si Alan Peter Cayetano, congressman Romuladez and he told them if you want to amend the constitution, do it during my term. So since the paradigm is now amending the constitution, the debate will no longer be focused on governance issues but we will also now look at the economic provisions of the constitution. Pagdedebatehan na rin po natin yung mga economic provisions. Do we need to lift the restrictive provisions of the constitution and allow foreign direct investments in these areas? What political and electoral reforms do we need? Do we need to put an anti-political dynasty self-executing provision in the constitution? Do we need to lift the term limits?


Incoming speaker Alan Cayetano was just quoted yesterday advocating for a four-year term for local government officials. This was also part of the discussion of the ConCom led by Chief Justice Puno and there are also recommendations in that regard. So things like political parties as public institution, they are now part of the greater debate because the debate is no longer about federalism per se. It’s now about constitutional change.