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Oportunista! Winnie Monsod scores Alvarez for forcing federalism to extend term

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Former socioeconomic planning secretary Winnie Monsod has slammed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for presenting federalism and Charter Change (Cha Cha) as the solutions to the country’s problems even though his real intent is to extend the terms of politikos like him.

Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, chided Alvarez for appealing to Filipinos’ sense of patriotism to support Cha Cha and change the country’s type of government into a federal setup.

The Speaker supposedly wants to rush the amendment of the 1987 Constitution so that a plebiscite can be held on the proposed amendments during the May 14 barangay elections.

“Why do I say that Alvarez et al. are opportunists, offering quick fixes? Because, Reader, federalism, the parliamentary system, and Charter change were never a part of the long-term or medium-term plans of President Duterte, his campaign promises notwithstanding,” Monsod said in her January 6 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Monsod said the Philippine Development Plan for 2017 to 2022 approved by Duterte in October 2016 or the longer-term AmBisyon Natin 2040 never mentioned federalism, a parliamentary system or Cha Cha as necessary components for the country’s growth. The words are not even on the document.

The feisty economist believes Alvarez is passionate about shifting to federalism to prolong his stay in power, like other politikos.

“[D]idn’t the Speaker dangle before the Congress the possibility of no elections in 2019? In which case, the sitting congressmen will sit, if the PDP-Laban view is approved, until at least 2030, because the transitory period must be at least that long to accomplish all the preparations for change,” she said.

Monsod said there are news reports that all elected local officials, not just lawmakers, will stay in power longer once the shift to federalism is approved. Term extension, she added, is a juicy enticement to get the politikos’ support for Cha Cha.

“In other words, we are promised a quick fix. But the quick fix isn’t so quick, after all. And it is the trapos, happy new year to them, that will gain from the fix. We, the people, get the pain,” she said.