Palace creates inter-agency body on shift to federalism

November 05, 2018
Rodrigo R. Duterte

MALACAÑANG has formed an inter-agency body to oversee the efforts toward shifting the country’s form of government to federalism, which was President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise.

Signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on October 31 but released to the media yesterday, Memorandum Circular 52 mandates the creation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform (IATF).

The IATF is chaired by the Interior and Local Government Secretary with the Justice Secretary as vice chairperson.

The members include the heads of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Political Adviser, Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines and University of the Philippines Law Center.

According to the circular, the IATF is mandated to integrate, harmonize and coordinate ongoing efforts toward federalism and constitutional reform.

Specifically, the IATF must develop strategies and implement public awareness activities, prepare an information dissemination and public communication plan and conduct consultations with the former members of the Consultative Committee, which drafted a federal charter, government agencies, the private sector and the general public.

The body is also tasked to liaise with Congress to initiate the process of and address the roadblocks to constitutional reform and perform other functions as the President may direct.

The Palace also ordered government agencies including state corporations, universities and colleges to coordinate with the IATF before conducting any activity involving federalism and constitutional reform, to provide necessary support to IATF and participate in educational programs and orientation seminars that the task force shall conduct.

The IATF must submit quarterly reports to the President on its activities and accomplishments, the circular stated.

The body’s budget shall be sourced from the funds to be identified by the Department of Budget and Management. Funding for succeeding years shall be incorporated in the DILG’s budget proposal.

IATF’s technical and administrative support services shall be sourced from the organic personnel of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and from other member-agencies if necessary, the circular said.

Duterte has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address national economic and power imbalances.

The President has said that he would quit his post as early as next year once the proposed federal charter is ratified by the public, insisting that the current unitary system of government has failed the people by keeping resources and power centralized.

Recent surveys however indicated that the majority of Filipinos have little to no knowledge at all about the current 1987 Constitution and changing the Constitution to install a federal government landed at the bottom of Filipinos’ concerns.