President Rodrigo Duterte’s top campaign promise during his campaign for election is to see Federalism in the Philippines in place during his term should he win as President.
To accentuate, the then Presidential candidate added he would be “happy to die” if Federalism is already adopted as a form of government in the country.
Well, it is clear that a Federal Philippines is a dream the Mindanaoan President has been nurturing for quite some time now. However, such dreams can only be realized if Duterte finally resolves to make that dream come true.
This he can do by making certain his plan can be carried out during the remaining two years of his term and the outcome of the law mandating for a Charter change including the form of government be put in a plebiscite to jibe with the 2022 national elections. We believe that making the people guessing as to his real intention will not help attain the realization of his dream.
We can remember in all the stages of his campaign and in his pronouncements during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) and in the first one and a half years of his administration, Duterte was immobile in his position for a change in the system of government. Towards the third year of his term the intensity of his advocacy was observed getting lesser. Talks about Federalism started getting scarce and other issues and programs were considered more urgent.
At times however, when the President is asked about his Federalism advocacy he insisted that it is not lost and will still be pursued. But reading between the lines of his responses there were already clear indications of doubts that it can be done fully under his term.
Our personal take though is that the President would not end his administration without showing proof that he really has the intention to fulfill his commitment, and that he will step down with something for his supported candidate for the 2022 elections to carry on. In other words, should the remaining years of his term not allow the completion of all the activities for a Constitutional revision, then the candidate aspirant from his party who adopts his Federalism advocacy as his/her campaign platform will likely get his endorsement.
Unfortunately, until now no one from among those who are perceived having the intention to run for president is open to the Duterte Federalism advocacy. The reason, we would want to assume, is because most of them are from Luzon, specifically Metro Manila and they know that a Federal system of government will likely diminish their power and influence in the provinces and cities. Thus, it would put their desire to perpetuate themselves in power in jeopardy right from the start of their term.
So, we feel that the remaining option for the President to have his dream of a Federal government in the Philippines realized is to personally make that pitch open for the prospective aspirants to consider. He should not hope for them to work for it or declare it personally because they do not have the heart for such advocacy.
In other words, Duterte has to come out and make the adoption of his Federalism advocacy as platform as a condition for his open endorsement.
We are certain that there will be no more second guessing on the part of the supporters of Federalism. They will surely root for the President’s candidate to succeed him in office if they agree with him that a Federal form of government is what it takes to stop the deprivation of the provinces and cities of their rightful share in the national wealth and of governance itself.
The Duterte believers will definitely be rallying behind the Presidential endorsee if they are convinced that Federalism has its built-in advantages in solving local economic issues as well as problems on peace and order.
More than ever, time has come for Duterte to declare once and for all that he will carry his dream to fruition even if he will just be silently directing the final push behind the scene as a retired President and top advocate. That will be the only way for Federalism to come even if not in his term but during the remaining years of his life. And when that happens he will surely be “happy to die.”.
Federalism will be his greatest legacy to a nation long troubled with inequities and centralization of services.
But of course, even if the President has this take of ours in mind the likelihood that this could be negated is strong. What with the serious impact of the global health pandemic that is ravaging the economies of countries all over.
Yes, the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (CoViD 19) seems to be the ultimate game changer of all times that even the biggest of nations and strongest of economies are brought down on their knees.
This, without doubt, could have impacted on whatever Duterte’s governance and economic plans.
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