DILG to finish proposed Constitutional amendments by August

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 July) – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is targeting to complete by next month the draft of the proposed Constitutional amendments for the shift to federal form of government and other key provisions.

Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, DILG spokesperson, said Thursday members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism (IATF) are now winding up their nationwide consultations and have started consolidating the results for the draft amendments.

The DILG chairs the IATF, which was created by the President in October last year to coordinate and harmonize efforts regarding the push for federalism and changing the 1987 Constitution.

“We hope to complete the draft by the end of August then present it to the President (Rodrigo R. Duterte) by the first or second week of September,” Malaya told reporters at the sidelines of the “Dagyaw 2019” regional town hall meeting here.

Once approved by the President, he said they will immediately present it to Congress.

Malaya said among the proposed key amendments are the lifting of the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution and some electoral reforms, among them the extension of the terms of elected local government officials from three to at least four years.

But he said they are also open to other proposals to ensure that it will be supported and eventually passed by Congress.

“We’re not after a major overhaul because that would be very difficult. We will select provisions that can be easily pushed,” he said.

In his keynote speech, Malaya said the President’s desire to change the Constitution “is still there” although it was not cited in his fourth state-of-the-nation address last Monday.

He said the President did not mention it since the DILG and other agencies are still working on the draft amendments.

The official said Charter change remains part of the President’s agenda as there is really a need to amend the Constitution.

While acknowledging that the current Charter has many good provisions, he said it has also “changed with the times.”

“We need to have a Constitution that addresses the needs and aspirations of our constituents. We believe that the time to amend the Constitution should be under this President or it will never happen,” he said.

Once realized, he said it will be an “ultimate Duterte legacy.”

The “Dagyaw” regional town hall meeting here, which was attended by around 300 stakeholders, was the fourth of the 16-event series slated in across the country.

The event was joined by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary Theresa Tenazas, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Evelyn Lavina and Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Ana Maria Paz Rafael.

Tenazas presented the DENR’s wildlife conservation and protection initiatives while Lavina discussed DA’s rural credit programs.

The “Dagyaw 2019: Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogues” mainly encourage participation in dialogues between government agencies, the public, and other stakeholders.

“Dagyaw” is a Hiligaynon or Ilongo term for “bayanihan.”

It aims to solicit ideas and stories that would help, not only in crafting new landmark reforms, but also in further strengthening existing measures.

“We are here because of participatory governance. We want to bring the government closer to the people. We want people to feel the government. This is about empowering the people,” Malaya said. (MindaNews)