IN HIS push for Charter Change, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday urged Congress to adopt the French model of a federal parliamentary republic, which puts a strong system of checks and balances into place.
"My advice is copy.. the French set-up," Duterte said in a speech before members of the League of Cities and Provinces of the Philippines at the Palace Wednesday night.
"We have to have a president because the Filipino wants to vote for a president. You can't take it away from them," Duterte said.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Duterte warned against establishing a purely parliamentary system because there would be "no single apparatus from the commander-in-chief down."
"You must have a president," he said, suggesting that the chief executive's powers could be limited to the ceremonial except in times of need.
Duterte said he was willing to call for a presidential election the day a parliamentary system of government is approved, saying he would not seek the highest office again under a federal system of government.
"If you can give me that document [to establish a federal parliamentary system], I will urge you to call for an election the following day or the following week. Even if there are still two or three years left, I will go," he said.
During the campaign, Duterte repeatedly said that the current centralized form of government leads to neglect of areas far from the seat of power.
In the Senate, Senator Franklin Drilon and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III have already filed resolutions calling for an elected constitutional convention to propose revisions to the 29-year-old Constitution.
While Duterte had previously said he prefers an elected convention, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Thursday the President now prefers a constituent assembly made up of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress.
Alvarez said the government might not be able to afford the election of convention delegates, which could cost as much as P7 billion.
"Budgetary considerations and priorities by the administration may make a constituent assembly the preferred mode of amending the Constitution compared to convening a constitutional commission," Alvarez said.
Alvarez said that while the President preferred an elected convention, the administration is now more inclined to use the money to fund salary increase for policemen and soldiers.
Under a constituent assembly, both houses of Congress will convene to propose amendments to the Constitution.
In a presentation before the Management Association of the Philippines, Alvarez said a unitary presidential system was "incompatible with Philippine historical experience."
He said that the presidential system, which was imposed by the country's colonizers, "has contributed to the cycles of inter-generational conflict, hampered economic growth and stunted development."
Alvarez said that the states to be created under a federal government would have real autonomy to chart their respective courses, with the goal of fostering lasting peace and achieving economic growth.
"Through federalism, by granting more and specific powers to the state governments, the red tape that leads all the way to Manila will be cut, thus reducing delays and uncertainties inimical to businesses," Alvarez said.
"The shift to federalism will address and eventually end historical injustices that have caused human sufferings and destruction of properties," he added.
"Peace is good for people and for business," he said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has launched an information drive on federalism, in cooperation with the People's National Movement for Federalism, a private group that advocates a shift to a federal form of government.
Source: The Standard