2019 polls to determine federalism push: analyst

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers his speech during the Federalism Summit at the Capitol Convention Center in Pili, Camarines Sur in this photo taken on October 17, 2017. -- PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

THE 2019 midterm elections will determine the fate of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s federalism agenda, an analyst sought for comment said.

Malacañang also on Monday issued Memorandum Circular (M.C.) No. 52 creating the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform, which is directed to “liaise” with Congress to “address the roadblocks to constitutional reform.”

The task force will be composed of the Interior Secretary as Chairperson and the Justice Secretary as Vice-Chairperson. Members of the task force are the heads of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Political Adviser, Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines Law Center.

Sought for comment, social science assistant professor Marlon B. Lopez of the Mindanao State University-Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography said the 2019 midterm elections will serve as “a test for the Duterte administration whether it would secure a supermajority” in both chambers of Congress, which would also “affect the administration’s push for the federalization of the Philippines.”

“It is a campaign promise, so the administration will really deliver federalism,” Mr. Lopez said, adding that the legacy of the Duterte administration is “founded on, number one, the formation of the Bangsamoro region and, number two, the federal constitution.”

Of the proposed Bangsamoro region, “It’s like a step towards federalization, because I can see that the formation of the Bangsamoro is an experimental stage for the country’s federalization,” Mr. Lopez said. — Arjay L. Balinbin