COMMENTARY: What’s happening to the country, Mr. President?

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 10 January) — President Digong Duterte early on last year publicly expressed his desire to form a 25-man Commission to review the 1987 constitution, prepare a draft of a new federal constitution that Congress, sitting as a Constituent Assembly, can work on to expedite charter change that will see to the shifting of the country’s unitary state system to a federal state system.

In this connection, the President signed Executive Order 10 on December 7, 2016 creating the Consultative Committee conceptualized on the same principle and purpose of the earlier mentioned Constitutional Commission he floated to the public.

Until now, however, the President, for still mysterious reasons, has not named the members of the 25-man Consultative Committee. Neither has he presented to the public his concept of a federal state apart from stating his preference for the French model, which is NOT a federal system but a unitary state with an all-powerful President, and his rhetoric on addressing the historical injustices in Mindanao.

Now Congress seems to be in a frenzy preparing for charter change while at the same time both its Houses are embroiled in an inter-parliamentary squabble on various issues such as whether to hold elections in 2019 or not, whether to prolong the term of the President or not, whether to pass a same-sex marriage law or not, whether to proceed with HOR(House of Representatives) Speaker Alvarez’ bill on protecting ugly spouses or not, or what of the many watered-down versions of the BBL should be passed.

Meanwhile, even before members to the 25-man Consultative Committee can be named let alone convene, the PDP-Laban, through Senate President Koko Pimentel, ostensibly submitted to the Senate its own concept of a federal system. This apparently has become the ‘working draft’ for the Senate study committees assigned to work on the federal concept proposal.

This obviously bypassed the Consultative Committee created by the EO issued by the President in December 2016 and has thus rendered it irrelevant.

With all this confusion going on, compounded by a new tax law (TRAIN) that lowers income tax on one hand (very good), but raises taxes on fuel that will lead to skyrocketing prices of all basic commodities on the other (binigay sa kaliwang kamay, binawi naman sa kanang kamay), we find ourselves in a confounding situation, to say the least.

As such, we can only sigh and ask: What’s happening to the country, Mr. President? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto was a member of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that negotiated the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro signed in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2014. He was also a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that the Aquino administration did not pass. This piece was posted on his Facebook wall on January 9 The author gave MindaNews permission to reprint this)