Palace: Duterte 'optimistic' about federalism approval within his term

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Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte still believes a new federal charter will be in place within his term despite seeming delays, Malacañang said Monday.

"The President is optimistic that it will because he knows federalism will help the development of this country," Duterte's spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing.

The clarification comes after Duterte hinted in a speech Friday in Cotabato City that he is limiting constitutional changes to economic provisions, despite his battle cry for the shift to a federal form of government.

Panelo said Duterte might be hinting that Congress is taking too long to act on the shift.

"If he feels that one method is not practical or cannot be realized, he goes to another mode. What is important to him is certain provisions of the Constitution must be amended," he said.

As for which provisions will be changed, Panelo cited that one of those Duterte previously mentioned is the entry of foreign investments.

"There is so much restriction, he wants to liberalize that," he said.

In October 2018, Duterte signed an executive order easing foreign investments on infrastructure projects, and relaxed restrictions on foreigners' practice of some professions in the country.

READ: Duterte signs new EO restricting foreign investments

The House of Representatives passed to the Senate in December the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, the draft constitution seeking the federal shift. The Senate, however, said there is no more time to tackle charter change within the 17th Congress due to budget deliberations.

Panelo said Duterte wants to revive the push for federalism after the elections.

"He is not alone. Congress should do something about it too," Panelo said.