Commentary: PGMA's call for federalism not meant to extend her stay
Cebu City (15 August) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not extend her stay in office beyond 2010 contrary to reports that her espousal for a shift from a presidential form of government to federalism is a ploy to lengthen her rule, Malacaņang officials stressed.
Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita placed emphasis on the President's various speeches and her State of the Nation Address that specifically quoted "From the remainder of my term until I step down in 2010, the best thing we can do is stay focused on further economic reforms while providing peace, order and stability."
Ermita said another quote of the President done in Tagalog that punctuated her aim to step down until her term ends states "Susunod ako sa Saligang Batas at sa sarili kong nais na bumaba sa puwesto sa pagwakas ng termino sa 2010. Pero hanggang sa araw na iyon, nagsisikap tayo sa pagsulong sa mga reporma upang maiwan natin ng matipuno ang bansa sa susunod na pinuno."
Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez pointed out that the President's advocacy for a shift from presidential to parliamentary form of government by amending the Constitution has always been part of her thrust as punctuated by her 2004 Presidential campaign platform.
The advocacy is a move to spur economic development in the countryside and decentralize power centered in Manila, according to Golez.
The issue of term extension was triggered by Senate resolution No. 10 supported by the President and authored by the 12 senators headed by Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. which calls for the convening of "Congress into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a Federal System of Government"
Mrs. Arroyo's support for the senate resolution is now linked to alleged efforts to extend her term of office beyond 2010 which is the farthest from the truth, according to Malcaņang officials.
Golez said the proposed amendment to change the form of government from presidential to a federal form does not include any provision on the term extension of the President or any other elected official.
"The resolution (No. 10) did not include any extension of the term of President Arroyo but focuses on the benefits that a federal state may receive. We must disassociate the principle of federalism from any rumors of term extension of the President coming from administration critics. Rather we must focus on our yearning for the needed change for the continued progress for our country," Golez said.
Golez emphasized that the President time and again has said that she will step down when her term ends in 2010, and that any political reform she initiated during her term, will, hopefully, be continued by her successor.
Sen. Pimentel himself has also said the resolution is not intended to extend the term of President Arroyo or any other incumbent public official.
"Let us be very clear. Resolution No. 10 has no intention whatsoever to extend her term, or my term, or anybody else's term. Its only purpose is the adoption of the federal system of government," Pimentel said in a TV interview.
"The resolution strictly specifies what it intends to revise in the Constitution," the senator added.
Pres. Arroyo's support for Senate Resolution No. 10 is to achieve the desired peace in Mindanao that has long been elusive for decades. "We are committed to use federalism to ensure long-lasting peace in Mindanao," the President stated.
Under the resolution, one of the 11 component federal states will be the Bangsa Moro Federal state. The resolution seeks to convene Congress to a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution, this is learned.
The resolution dovetails with the plan of the Arroyo administration and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to give Muslims wide economic and political powers starting with the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]