Duterte mulls merger of national gov’t agencies

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 May) – Expect the incoming administration of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte to effect a merger of some national agencies to cut down on expenditures and curb corruption.

This was announced in a press briefing at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao Friday by Peter T. Laviña, spokesperson of Duterte.

The Social Security System might be merged with the Government Service Insurance Services, and the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Laviña said.

He said merging SSS and GSIS alone can save the government P5 billion annually, and the savings can be realigned to programs for social services and salary increases of public workers.

“All of these will be studied whether they are workable and good for the government,” he added.

But Laviña said they may not push through with the plan if Congress would agree to calling for a constitutional convention so that the process of shifting to a federal parliamentary form of government could start.

If push comes to shove, he said, only agencies that have dealings with the international community such as the Department of National Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, and Bureau of Customs will be retained.

He added regional states will have their own offices that will attend to the needs of their own constituents.

Laviña said the new administration plans to propose to Congress to call for a constitutional convention to make a major rewriting of the 1987 Constitution hopefully by next year.

If this would push through, the framers of the new constitution may be convened by early next year and start the national consultations, including those for Filipinos living and working abroad, he said.

Laviña said they will present the new charter to the Filipino people for approval through a plebiscite by 2019 in time for the midterm elections.

If approved, Laviña said the regional states will be set up between 2019 and 2022 and will elect federal officials by the end of Duterte’s term. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)