Gov't to allot P40M-P90M for federalism info drive

MANILA, Philippines – As much as P90 million may be allocated for a "massive" government information drive on Malacañang's proposed federal constitution, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday, July 26.

Speaking at a press conference in Zamboanga Sibugay on Thursday, Roque said P50 million of this will be from the budget savings of President Rodrigo Duterte's Consultative Committee (Con-Com).

"The initial amount identified is P90 million but P10 million to PCOO," said Roque said.

"The Consultative Commitee has savings of about P50 million but they're not sure how they can actually spend it because the lifespan of the Consultative Committee ends this August. So they're finding a way to be able to use the remaining funds of the committee for dissemination purposes," he added.

Even without the Con-Com's savings, Malacañang can cough up P40 million for the information campaign. In both budget scenarios, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will be given P10 million to help implement the drive.

An "intergovernmental task force" will take the lead in the campaign, said Roque. Duterte is expected to sign an executive order to create the group, Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno said earlier.

Duterte's spokesman said he was a part of a recent meeting about the planned information campaign.

"We have identified initially a little budget for the dissemination of the work of the Consultative Committee and that we have initally agreed on a strategy. We will bring down, disseminate to the level of the barangays," he said.

The need for a comprehensive information campaign on federalism and the draft constitution comes after recent surveys showing a big majority of Filipinos don't want a shift to a federal system and know little or nothing about federalism.

"Surveys confirmed so far that there is a need for disseminate in so far as it shows that the overwhelming majority still don't know anything about federalism," said Roque.

The Con-Com's draft has also been criticized on many of its provisions, such as the creation of what some say is a dangerously powerful Transition Commission and its supposed effect of "impeaching," via new charter, Vice President Leni Robredo. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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