By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez said he and his colleagues are currently awaiting the committee report on the shift towards a federal form of government, a primary campaign promise by President Rodrigo Duterte, before formal discussions on charter change begin.
In a recent interview, Benitez said he expects both houses of Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly once the passage of the committee report is adopted.
He explained, the priority is to discuss the shift in order to further study and determine if there is a need to shift from a unitary form of government to a federal government.
“We need to focus on this because 2019 (the next elections) is still far,” Benitez said.
Federalism has long been advocated by the president’s PDP-Laban party, which Benitez joined after winning reelection in 2016 as an Independent candidate.
Back in March, following a public consultation on constitutional reform at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC), Southern Leyte Lone District Rep. Roger Mercado, who chairs the committee on constitutional amendments, provided a general timeline on the federalism process.
He noted, Congress would go on recess in June, followed by the State of the Nation Address in July, wherein they would be back in session and could convene the constituent assembly.
“We project the work will be finished in six months – by March of next year,” Mercado projected at the time./WDJ