Pangilinan on inviting Mocha Uson to federalism hearings: There are more learned experts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee Chair Kiko Pangilinan is not very keen on inviting Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to discuss federalism.

Senator Nancy Binay made the suggestion on Wednesday, saying Uson should explain the proposal. Uson, who has been slammed for sharing misleading and wrong information, has been tapped to help spread awareness regarding charter change.

When asked on CNN Philippines' The Source if he thought Uson could explain federalism to the public, Pangilinan said, "I'm sure there are more learned experts."

"But we'll see. Pag nirequest ni [If requested by] Sen. Binay officially, then we will have to take it from there," he added.

The senator said they would probably invite Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar. He said he was open to inviting Uson if she could discuss how the ₱90 million budget for the federalism campaign would be used.

"If to clarify on the issue of ₱90 million being spent, puwede siguro. Apart from her, siguro yung pinaka-head ng PCOO," said Pangilinan.

[Translation: If (it is) to clarify on the issue of ₱90 million being spent, we might. Apart from her, probably (we should invite) the head of PCOO.]

The government already started its information drive through federalism roadshows organized by the Department of Interior and Local Government and Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution.

DILG spokesperson and federalism campaign chief Jonathan Malaya previously pegged their budget at ₱100 million. However, the controversial roadshows were slammed after the Philippine News Agency reported thousands of attendees in Bicol supported charter change. It was also criticized as an early campaign platform for possible candidates like Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino.

Pangilinan noted that when the Senate visited Baguio, a participant said four seminars on federalism had already been held in the city — each with a different proposal. The senator wanted to know how the budget was being allocated for this information drive.

"Is this an education campaign, or is this a may-kumikita-dito campaign?" he said.

[Translation: Is this an education campaign, or a campaign where somebody profits?]

The Senate in general has been cold toward charter change, following public surveys that showed aversion to federalism and a lack of understanding of it.

Senate President Tito Sotto said the upper house would not rush federalism, while Majority Leader Migz Zubiri said it was not within Senate priorities at all. Moreover, Senator Ping Lacson told The Source on Wednesday that charter change was "as good as dead" — at least with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Speaker in the House of Representatives.