MALACAÑANG yesterday insisted that all Cabinet members are on board with President Rodrigo Duterte’s bid for federalism.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement in his regular press briefing, even after at least two economic managers publicly expressed concern about the shift to federalism based on the Consultative Committee’s (Con-Com’s) proposed draft charter.
“I think there’s a 100% agreement that we’re [Cabinet] pushing for federalism. The exact mechanics of how to do it, nobody can claim a monopoly,” said Roque .
On Wednesday, August 6, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told senators at a budget hearing that he was “absolutely” against federalism as proposed in the Con-Com’s draft constitution, and that he would vote against the latter if a plebiscite were held today.
Dominguez had cited the “confusing” fiscal provisions in the Con-Com draft charter which, he said, would cause the country’s hard-earned investment grade ratings to “go to hell,” and ultimately hurt the economy.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said a shift to federalism would “wreak havoc” on the economy because it could cause a spike in the fiscal deficit.
Roque, however, said Dominguez “supports federalism.”
“He knows that the President ran on a platform based on charter change towards federalism. He supports federalism. Let’s finetune the means and ways of moving from a [unitary] to a federal form of government,” he said.
He also insisted that Dominguez was not “conclusive” in his remarks about the draft federal charter.
“I don’t think any of the declarations made by the economic managers are conclusive….In fact, he was very particular when he said, ‘I think there will be problems ‘as currently drafted,’” said Roque.
The finance chief’s remarks, said the spokesman, only underline the “need to disseminate (information on federalism) even amongst members of the Cabinet, apparently.”
While Malacañang “respects” the points raised by Dominguez and Pernia, Roque said, as Duterte’s alter egos, they naturally would support federalism.
“The President, as principal of all the alter egos of the President, has said that he is pushing for federalism so it is incumbent upon the alter egos to find ways and means now to make that happen,” said Roque.
Roque also said that the draft charter was still subject to changes in Congress.