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Sara Duterte says federalism could worsen areas with political dynasties

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio remains opposed to a shift to federalism, believing that wider political and fiscal autonomy, when granted to areas long held by political clans, could spell trouble. 

“Kung makikita nyo ang Mindanao is an area na merong mga ‘kingdoms,’ mga local politicians, local warlords. I do not think na tama ibigay ang mas malaking powers kapag ganoon ang set up ng isang lugar,” she said.

(If you’ll see, Mindanao is an area filled with ‘kingdoms’ of local politicians, local warlords. I do not think it’s right we grant them wider powers.)

“Kasi baka mag-worsen ang situation ng mga lugar, especially sa mga lugar na hindi pa ready na tumanggap ng dagdag na responsibilities or dagdag na power ang mga local officials.”

(The situation might worsen in areas where local officials are not yet ready for additional responsibilities and powers.)

Duterte-Carpio however noted that the decision to a shift to federalism rests with Congress and the president. 

“Lagi kong sinasabi I am not for federalism, but I say decision iyan ng Congress, decision iyan ng president natin,” Duterte-Carpio told reporters on the sidelines of Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s campaign sortie in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

(I always say that I am not for federalism, but that’s up to Congress and the President.)

Duterte-Carpio’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government since assuming office, saying this will benefit local government units who have long been relying on the central government for funding.

Duterte-Carpio leads the HNP which is backing 13 senatorial candidates for the upcoming mid-term elections. The candidates are expected to support President Duterte’s legislative priorities if they win.

Asked whether one such legislative priority is the federalism shift, Duterte-Carpio says the regional party “does not have a collective stand.”

The Palace has formed a consultative committee which recommended a draft federal charter.

President Duterte, however, has not yet officially endorsed the committee’s draft to Congress, which introduced its own version of a proposed revised Charter which, among others, removed term limits for elective officials.

Conrado “Ding” Generoso, spokesperson of the now-defunct committee, earlier told ABS-CBN News that the President might just be waiting for the Senate to become composed of friendlier members who will ensure that his federalism pitch will sail smoothly.

“Ang tingin natin baka mayroong sariling timetable si president o baka alam niya na kahit anong gawin niya sa Kongreso hindi makakalusot ang tama. Kailangan kasi lalo na sa Senado, kailangan mo ng 18 boto,” he said.

(The President may have set his own timetable because he realized that no matter what he does, the right version of the federalism charter would not pass in the current Congress, especially in the Senate where you will need 18 votes.) 

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