Duterte creates charter change task force

MANILA, Philippines – To reinvigorate his push for federalism and charter change, President Rodrigo Duterte created the Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism (IATF) through a memorandum circular.

Signed on October 31, Memorandum Circular No 52 states the IATF is to coordinate and harmonize all activities and efforts geared towards federalism and changing the 1987 Constitution.

This puts it in charge of a public dissemination campaign and communication strategy on federalism. All government agencies, including government corporations and state-run schools, are ordered to coordinate with the task force before pursuing any activity related to federalism or constitutional reform.

The order also emphasizes that the government's information dissemination and public communications plan is to ensure that the government's charter change initiatives are "effective, efficient, and uniform."

One of the task force's major tasks is to "liaise with Congress to initiate the process of and address the roadblocks to constitutional reform."

#PresidentDuterte creates federalism taskforce through Memorandum Circular No 52. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/jjQ7jMP0CX — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) November 5, 2018

Talks in Congress on charter change have stalled because of preparations for the 2019 elections and discussions on other pressing bills such as the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

But House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has prepared her version of a new charter. 

The task force will also consult former members of Duterte's Consultative Committee (Con-Com), the group that had crafted a federalist constitution that eventually got the President's thumb's up.

The IATF is to be chaired by the Interior Secretary or their equivalent. The Justice Secretary will serve as vice chairperson. Its members include representatives from the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Presidential Management Staff, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Office of the Political Adviser, Commission on Higher Education, Development Academy of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines Law Center. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.