Anti-federalism forces play fear factor

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez today said anti-federalism forces are capitalizing on unfounded fears against his proposal to scrap the mid-term elections in 2019 to serve their goal of derailing the passage of a new charter.


In a radio interview, Alvarez stressed that unless charter change for a federal form of government is done by 2019 it would be very difficult to achieve this goal.


“If we delay it further, we would not be able to do it until the end of the term of President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Alvarez said.


After the 2019 elections President Rodrigo Duterte would have a little over two years remaining in his term which is not enough to approve a new charter and allow a proper transition period to the new federal government, according to Alvarez.


“That is why those who are against the move to change from a unitary to a federal form of government that would be the best position to take: let’s have an election and attend to that (charter change) after the election. They know very well that it would not be possible,” Alvarez said.


Earlier he noted that among the candidates in the 2016 presidential elections it was only Duterte who advocated for a shift to a federal form of government.


With the need for Congress to attend first to the proposed 2019 budget, the October deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy of re-electionist lawmakers, the Christmas break two months later and the start of the campaign period by February next year, Alvarez said there is simply no time for Congress to tackle the proposed federal charter.

Postponing the May 2019 mid-term polls is the best option to give lawmakers enough time to subject the various drafts of a federal charter to study and extensive debates, according to Alvarez.


“We need to focus on this. So, for example, if we decide to cancel the elections in 2019, we would tackle first the NEP (National Expenditure Program) and then after that we would immediately discuss that (charter change). We would not do any other thing except to discuss that (proposed federal charter),” Alvarez said.


To avoid further complications and suspicions with the resulting need for the President to appoint new officials whose terms would have expired, Alvarez said it would be more prudent just to extend the term of incumbent officials.


He explained that the 2019 polls may be scrapped through a law passed by Congress. But if the Senate would not agree, Alvarez said another option is for supporters of federalism to launch a people’s initiative.


Alvarez also allayed fears that the charter change was meant to extend the term of President Duterte, saying that if the charter change pushes through the first election under a federal setup would be held on 2022.


“Let us look at this matter objectively. If we have to do this, let’s do it right,” Alvarez said.


To inform the people about the merits of his proposal, Alvarez said each member of the House can conduct an information drive in their respective districts.


the noblest motive is the greatest good for the greatest number