charter change

Pimentel-led PDP wing to pursue federalism push but warns vs Marcos term extension

Herbie Gomez

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Pimentel-led PDP wing to pursue federalism push but warns vs Marcos term extension

Minority Senators Risa Hontiveros and Aquilino Pimentel Jr., hold a media conference on July 26, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Federalism or not, charter change or not, he (President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.) has to step down in 2028,' says PDP-Laban Pimentel wing secretary-general Manuel Jaudian

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) wing led by Senate minority leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is open to pursuing discussions about a shift to a federal form of government provided that proponents don’t push for term extensions or any clause seen to allow President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to perpetuate himself in power.

“Federalism or not, charter change or not, he (Marcos) has to step down in 2028,” Dr. Manuel Jaudian, the Cagayan de Oro-based secretary-general of the Pimentel-led faction of the PDP-Laban, told Rappler on Monday, August 1.

The group of federalism advocates, according to Jaudian, has taken the position that any attempt aimed at changing provisions in the 1987 Constitution to allow a shift to a federal form of government should include a guarantee that Marcos and those who approve it would not prolong their stay in power after the next presidential elections.

The PDP-Laban, which was the ruling party until last month, was at the forefront of the movement for charter change to enable a shift to a federal system during the six-year administration of former president and party chairman Rodrigo Duterte.

Although Duterte professed to be a federalism advocate and promised the shift during his successful 2016 presidential campaign, he announced midway through his term that he was no longer pursuing it because his administration supposedly ran out of time.

A power struggle between two factions of the PDP-Laban resulted in a legal battle after former energy secretary Alfonso Cusi led a group that ousted former senator Manny Pacquiao as party president, and Pimentel as executive vice chairman in 2021.

Pimentel, whose father and namesake Aquilino Jr. founded the party, has appealed a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling that recognized the Cusi-led faction as legitimate. He said they were prepared to elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

The senator said the PDP-Laban faction, which he leads, would pursue its push for a federal form of government but would oppose attempts to insert proposals that have nothing to do with its federalism advocacy.

“Huwag ‘yon (Not that),” he said of an amendment that would lift term limits provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

Pimentel-led PDP wing to pursue federalism push but warns vs Marcos term extension

Pimentel said he and his group would strongly oppose attempts to “hijack” moves to change the form of government.

The PDP-Laban, he said, has always advocated a federal structure to enhance local autonomy and enable the government to address the country’s basic problems.

“Amending the Constitution can come from so many motivations and agendas. The PDP-Laban is very clear – federalism. If it’s about amending the economic provisions, it’s out of our advocacy. If it’s about the extension of terms, it’s already out of our advocacy,” Pimentel told Rappler on Thursday, July 28. 

Jaudian, meanwhile, said the group was open to amending the Constitution for a federalism shift, but would insist on a transitory period and provision that would ban Marcos from getting elected to lead the country after 2028.

“He can be an elderly statesman by then, but not govern after his term as president is over. None of the amendments should benefit him politically,” Jaudian said. –

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.