Press Briefing

The Presser with Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya and Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael

ASEC. RAFAEL: Good afternoon, members of the Malacañang Press Corps. This afternoon, our speakers: Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya of the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar of the Department of Justice. We will be presenting Memorandum Circular 52 issued by the Office of the President, creating the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reforms.

But before that, I’m honored to introduce our guest speaker for this afternoon. Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar is a three-term congresswoman and representative of the Democratic Independent Workers Association or DIWA partylist, and a lawyer by profession. She was recently appointed as the undersecretary for legal services by the Department of Justice. And she is also the undersecretary in-charge of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. Usec. Em has authored and co-authored 190 bills, 55 of which were passed into law including the Go Negosyo Act, Domestic Workers Act and the Magna Carta for Seafarers. She is also the founder of Hope for Lupus Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to raise awareness about Lupus for early detection and proper treatment of diseases.

This afternoon, Usec. Em Aglipay-Villar would be joining us as a representative of the Department of Justice on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism – Ma’am, good afternoon.

USEC. AGLIPAY-VILLAR: Good afternoon.

ASEC. RAFAEL: Ma’am, you may introduce the Memorandum Circular 52.

USEC. AGLIPAY-VILLAR: So on the 31st of October which is roughly about a month ago, the Office of the President, through the Executive Secretary, issued Memorandum Circular 52. And this concerns the promotion of the federal constitution, and delivering an integrated message about the constitution throughout the provinces and the regions of the country. It was composed of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the Office of the Presidential Management Staff, the Presidential Communications Office, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, the Office of the Political Adviser, the Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines, and the University of the Philippines Law Center. It is chaired by the Department of Interior and Local Government, and vice-chaired by the Department of Justice.

The creation of the task force is in order to develop strategies and implement such activities that are necessary in order to communicate the message about the federal constitution and increase awareness about it. And, as well as undertake consultations with the different sectors including government agencies—other government agencies, and the public in general, as well as the private sector so that we may integrate this and harmonized this with the current draft which was produced by the Consultative Committee.

Of course, another responsibility of the Task Force is to liaise with Congress in order to ensure that any questions that they might have or issues that are existing at the moment with respect to the federal constitution may be ironed out.

ASEC. RAFAEL: Thank you, Usec. Villar. May we have the face of federalism, Asec. Jonathan Malaya.

ASEC. MALAYA: Naku, mahirap iyong ganoong klaseng—but thank you very much, Asec. Marie. Again, thank you to the Presidential Communications Operations Office for this opportunity to be able to use the Malacañang Press Briefing Room, and engage with the Malacañang Press Corps on this very important topic – the creation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism, which was already discussed by Usec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar.

In so far as the DILG is concerned, we consider the creation of this task force as a signal of the President’s continued, deeper and serious effort to push for a shift to a federal system of government. Actually, the creation of the task force comes at the end of the federalism road show which was conducted by the DILG, together with all of our partner agencies, including the PCOO which brought us to all the regions of the country. We began in Dumaguete, and now we’re finishing up with the national federalism summit here in Metro Manila next month, December.

It also shows that the President is mobilizing all relevant agencies of the government to ensure full effort, by the whole of government in raising the country’s and the public’s awareness and  understanding of the federal system of government and the President’s commitment to push its implementation through, and amendment to the Constitution within his term of office.

So instead of just the DILG as the agency tasked by the President to undertake these activities, the MC 52 makes federalism and constitutional reform a whole of government responsibility. Therefore, we’re bringing together all of the government agencies, not only those listed in the MC itself but also other government agencies which may also assist us in this shift to a federal system. It also shows the commitment of the President to the federalism agenda despite the apparent time constraints for this Congress to discuss and debate the proposed new constitution.

The road show which we are to conclude at the end of next month or the end of the year shows that there is full support from the President and support for the President in his agenda, especially among local officials and the general public, who participated and were involved in the federalism road show.

We must harness this support by assuring them that the President is committed to push for constitutional amendments even beyond this current Congress. So the forthcoming Congress which will be elected in May of this year is another battleground for us to be able to push for constitutional amendment.

Now on not really related development but since this morning it was announced by the Regional Trial Court that the three policemen were found guilty of killing Kian Delos Santos, I’d like to make a short statement in behalf of the DILG.

The Department of Interior and Local Government respects the ruling of the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 125, which found three Caloocan policemen guilty of the killing of Kian Delos Santos during an anti-illegal drugs operation in Caloocan in August of last year. The verdict imposed by the court on the three cops proves that justice in our country is blind and does not distinguish whether one is in a position of authority or not. The conviction shows that the government is on the side of the oppressed and does not condone nor tolerate any wrongdoing by persons who are tasked to enforce the law.

 We, in the DILG, would like this conviction to serve, as a warning to the Philippine National Police to be always worthy of their badges and always uphold the law as they perform their duties. Law enforcers are expected to serve and protect the people. Scalawag police officers will never be tolerated by the DILG. As persons who are duty-bound to keep the peace, they are expected to strictly adhere to the rule of law, and respect human rights in the performance of their duties.

 The DILG assures the public that it will continue to intensify its internal cleansing efforts to rid the police of misfits and scalawags as we remain strongly committed to the President’s campaign against criminality and illegal drugs.

 With that, may I turnover to Asec. Marie. Thank you.

ASEC. RAFAEL: Thank you, Asec. John. Questions?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hi, sir. Good afternoon. Sir, doon sa road show na ginawa ninyo sa buong bansa, ano po iyong general na opinyon ng publiko sa pederalismo? Ano ang kanilang mga apprehensions, pangamba; naintindihan ba nila iyong mga kabutihan o anuman iyong mga kabutihang ipinaliwanag ninyo tungkol sa pederalismo?

ASEC. MALAYA: Sa tingin po namin ay naging matagumpay. Kasi po hindi naman po natin puwedeng hakutin lahat ng tao ‘no. Kasi kung minsan po ay walong-libo, siyam-na libo, sampung-libong tao ang dumarating ‘no. I think it’s also the interest of the people, kasi matagal na ring usap-usapan ang federalism sa ating bansa, so kapag nabalitaan nila na magkakaroon ng ganoong aktibidad, nagpupuntahan po sila.

So madami pong ginawa ang ating DILG diyan, mula doon sa town hall meeting kung saan iyong mga leaders ng iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan: Nandoon po ang business sector, nandoon ang local government, nandoon ang farmers and fisherfolk – lahat po ay pinapatawag namin iyan to a town hall meeting. And then, mayroon pong mga media guestings din iyong ating members ng Consultative Committee kung saan nagagamit natin ang mass media para iyong mga hindi nakarating doon sa road show ay maintindihan din nila iyong ating panawagan for a shift to a federal system; at mayroon po tayong malaking federalism rally – iyon nga po iyong sinabi ko na ang daming taong dumarating.

Ngayon, ang feedback po sa amin ay kapag nabalitaan nila at nalalaman nila kung ano naman ang benepisyo nito ay naiintindihan nila. Partikular po, alam naman po natin ang talagang hangarin ng pederalismo ay mapaunlad ang mga regions, ang ating mga rehiyon sa ating bansa. So maganda po ang feedback, natutuwa po kami sa ganitong feedback na nakukuha natin. Ngunit ang napuntahan pa lang po ng DILG sa road show na ito ay iyong mga regional centers lang. So iyong sa level po ng probinsiya, munisipiyo at barangay, ang gagalaw po diyan ngayon ay iyong mga partners ng DILG na mga civil society organizations. At sana po sa susunod na mga buwan ay mula doon sa regional, bumaba na sa probinsiya, sa mga munisipiyo hanggang sa barangay para po mas mapaabot sa ating mga kababayan.

Kasi po, lagpas po tayo ng isandaang-milyon ‘no at ang laki ng challenge na ito sa DILG kaya po sa susunod na mga araw ay kakausapin namin ang DepEd at ang iba’t ibang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno para makatulong din sila sa pagpapalaganap ng layunin ng federal system of government.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, ano po iyong apprehensions? Ano iyong feedback sa inyo? May negatibo ba silang mga pananaw sa pederalismo? Ano po iyong mga nakarating sa inyong ganoon?

ASEC. MALAYA: Well, mayroon po. Iyong iba pong mga empleyado ng gobyerno ay may agam-agam kasi kinakabahan sila kung mawawala na ba sila sa nasyunal at malilipat sa lokal, or mawawalan sila ng trabaho, or mase-separate from the service. At ang pinapaliwanag po namin sa kanila ay hindi po mangyayari iyon kasi iyong tungkulin nila whether stateman or regional level or national level ay kailangan pa ring gampanan. Kung magkaroon man ng movement, doon lang sila kung saan sila sasahod na bago.

So, in so far as the government officials or any employees are concerned, it will just be some sort of transfer of responsibilities from one branch or level of government to the other level of government. Iyong iba naman pong mga tanong especially ng mga LGU ay kung maaapektuhan ba iyong kanilang internal revenue allotment. So pinapaliwanag po namin na nakakasiguro nga po tayo under federal system na mas lalaki pa iyong kanilang revenue, kasi mas madaming taxes na matatanggap ang ating mga LGUs. So with this continuous discussion and dialogue with our partners, mas naliliwanagan po ang ating mga kababayan.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Last na lang po. Ano ho iyong relasyon ng inyong task force doon sa legislative po, sa legislature?

ASEC. MALAYA: Okay. Kagaya po ng sinabi ni Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, kasama rin po sa tungkulin ng Task Force ay to liaise with Congress. So sa mga susunod pong araw ay kakausapin na po namin ang, in particular, the leadership of the House of Representatives. At makakatulong po siguro si Usec kasi dati siyang member of Congress para po ma-harmonize iyong findings ng … iyong rekumendasyon ng ConCom, iyong findings ng Task Force, at iyong binabalangkas nilang federal constitution sa Kongreso. So kasama po iyon sa tungkulin ng inter-agency task force.

Q: Asec., sa mga nakaraan sinabi ninyo ay mayroong mga revisions na gagawin. Tapos na ba iyong mga revisions doon sa draft, before you finally submit it sa Congress? Iyong mga revisions sa draft po.

USEC. AGLIPAY-VILLAR: Sa ngayon, hindi pa tapos iyong mga revisions sa draft kaya nga patuloy pa rin iyong konsultasyon sa mga government agencies, private sector, non-government organizations, kasi bukas pa rin kami sa kung anumang mga komento nila tungkol sa produkto ng Consultative Committee. Kung mayroon silang mga gustong i-suggest sa amin para mapabuti pa lalo iyong current draft natin ay bukas po kami doon kaya nga po parte ng responsibilidad ng task force ay konsultahin sila.

Q: Doon sa ginagawa ninyong consultation, Usec., ano usually iyong mga top three or iyong pinakamahalagang ipinu-push nila na mapabilang doon sa draft?

USEC. AGLIPAY-VILLAR: Sa ngayon kasi, dahil nga po kakapasa pa lang nitong … kakaisyu pa lang nitong memorandum circular, hindi pa po kami nakakapagkonsulta nang opisyal sa mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, iyong mga departamento at saka sa private sector.

Pero baka po mayroong mga suggestions na galing sa roadshow?

ASEC. MALAYA: Tama po si Usec ‘no. Last week lang ay nag-meeting ang inter-agency task force, so kakasimula pa lang ng trabaho namin at madami pang gagawin. Pero i-clarify ko lang iyong sinabi na revision – hindi po revision iyong gagawin ng task force; harmonizing po ang gagawin namin. What that means is we will harmonize the ConCom draft with the inputs of the various agencies.

Ang ibig pong sabihin, we will be working closely with the Department of Finance, with the NEDA, with the DoF, and DBM doon naman sa mga economic provisions of the constitution na mayroon silang concern. At doon naman sa local governments, kakausapin din namin iyong mga liga, under the umbrella of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, para ma-harmonize naman iyong mga LGU provisions with those na posisyon naman ng ULAP – so ganoon po iyong gagawin naming in the next few weeks.

Q: Isa na lang, Asec. Asec. Malaya kumusta iyong awareness campaign natin, tumataas ba iyong awareness ng mga Pilipino tungkol sa federalism?

ASEC. MALAYA:  Sa tingin po namin; we are positive na tumaas. Of course, wala pa iyong surveys, pero maya-maya nandiyan na naman iyan. We are confident na tumaas, although, siyempre, support is different from awareness. Kasi iyong suporta kasi, iba-ibang ano na iyan, may mga iba’t ibang opinyon. Naipaliwanag nga sa kanila pero may narinig naman silang ganito. Kasi, you know, it’s a volatile topic – iyong opposition ay firmly against it.

At sinabi na nila, iyong ibang mga kandidato nila for senator na this is going to be their platform – to oppose charter change. So this is a black and white scenario – either you are for it or against it. So hindi natin makakasiguro kung gaano kalaki iyong suporta. Pero sigurado po ako sa awareness – tumaas. Because nga po hindi lang ang DILG ang umiikot, ang dami po naming mga partners sa civil society organizations na umiikot on their own, using their own resources and funds to be able to reach as many of our countrymen as possible.

Q: Question for Usec. Villar. Usec, are we ready for federalism?

USEC. AGLIPAY-VILLAR: Well, I think that we all are and that’s why what we are doing right though is making sure that everyone understands, that their questions are answered. And it will be a process. So in terms of readiness, we should be more aware that it does not come all at the same time. So it will be a step by step process. And in terms of the first step, then we’re ready for that.

And then, as we go through in this stage of the process, as what was mentioned repeatedly, we are just, right now, trying to harmonize first what the existing draft is with the other comments and suggestions that the other agencies and the private sector might have.

So after this stage of the process, then we can probably repeat again the dissemination. If ever the current draft has changed, then we disseminate whatever the changes are so that eventually, we could be, probably be, readier to undertake the next step which is approval through a plebiscite.

Q: Follow up lang po. Just in case na matuloy nga po itong federalism, naniniwala ba kayo na we can afford the budgetary increase na kakailanganin?

ASEC. MALAYA: Okay. Let me just address that concern. Iyon nga po iyong dahilan kung bakit may harmonization. Kasi sinasabi ng ConCom na it will only cost us around 17 billion to 18 billion; and then here comes the other agencies saying na ganito. And according to the ConCom, iyong budget estimate required that was mentioned by the other government agencies is not necessarily correct because of these issues.

So para po matapos na iyang agam-agam na iyan, mayroon po tayong harmonization process. So at the end of this process, the Executive branch and the ConCom will only have one position which is ‘this is the cost that federalism in the short-term will entail in the medium term and in the long-term.’ At sa tingin ko naman po, if we prepare ourselves early, we will be able to address and provide funds for all those requirements as we go along.

ASEC. RAFAEL: No more questions? Thank you. Thank you to our speakers this afternoon. Thank you, Asec. Malaya and Usec. Emmeline Villar. Maraming salamat mga kaibigan sa Malacañang Press Corps.  Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.


SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)