By NITZ ARANCON
THE chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments over the weekend said many citizens here favor the proposed shift from a unitary-centralized system of government to a federal system because they see it as a means to develop the countryside.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of the city’s 2nd District, said he noted a consensus in favor of amending the 1987 Constitution for a shift to a federal system of government based on an open forum and the answers written in questionnaires during a public consultation at the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) gym on Friday.
Asked if he thought the changes could be made in two and a half years, Rodriguez said: “Definitely yes! We have sufficient time.”
Rodriguez said he expects the House committee to approve the proposed amendments by Dec. 11, and in the plenary by January 2020.
“By February, it will already be in the Senate.”
He said over a thousand people attended the first public consultation on the proposed constitutional amendments outside Metro Manila.
Rodriguez said most of the participants want these changes in the Constitution:
• lifting of restrictions on foreign investments to generate more employment;
• extension of the office terms of local officials and congressmen to five years to give officials sufficient time to finish their projects and programs for their constituents; and
• election of senators by regions for equal representation in the Senate.
Rodriguez, who led the public consultation here, said only by opening the Constitution to amendments can a shift to a federal form of government become possible in the remaining years of the Duterte administration.
He said public approval for the proposed changes in the Constitution and the shift to federalism are necessary to start the process.
“Dili man mahimo nga dili amendahan ang atong Constitution kon mo-shift na kita gikan sa presidential form of government ngadto sa federal form,” Rodriguez said.
Among the congressmen who came for the public consultation were Reps. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga of the 2nd District of Compostela Valley, Abdullah Dimaporo of the 2nd District of Lanao del Norte, House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, Alyssa Sheena Tan of the 4th District of Isabela.
Also joining them were Garry Olivar and Prof. Ramon Sasipli, representatives of the Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reform, and Rodriguez’s siblings, former congressman Maximo Rodriguez Jr. and Jocelyn, a Cagayan de Oro councilor. (with reports from Herbie Gomez)