Press Release
August 24, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the 14th Congress should pursue the plan to adopt a federal system of government although it may take effect after 2010 to dispel apprehensions that it may be taken advantage of to extend the terms of office of incumbent officials of the executive and legislative branches.

Due to persistent speculation that Mrs. Arroyo's support for the federalism proposal is just a pretext for allowing her to stay in office beyond 2010, Pimentel lamented that some supporters have started to vacillate on moves to reform a system of government that is outmoded and unresponsive to the nation's needs.

While Malacañang kept assuring that there is no hidden agenda behind the presidential backing for the federalism proposal, the senator from Mindanao reiterated that he will not allow himself to be an unwitting tool to any plan to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo in power beyond the constitutional limits.

"I will not enter into any Faustian bargain with anyone in this resolution. This is not for Gloria, this is not for me. I am also term limited up to 2010. I will not allow Gloria and her minions to ride on Resolution 10 to enable her to stay in power longer than 2010," Pimentel said.

He said the discussion and action by Congress on the federalism proposal, as embodied in Joint Resolution 10, should not be postponed until after 2010 because it would be very difficult to restart and pursue this initiative after a new administration takes over.

Reacting to the reported plans of some signatories to withdraw their signatures from Resolution 10 and the alleged plan of others to follow suit, Pimentel said that is their right.

However, they should realize, he insisted, that the safeguards built into Resolution 10 would make it impossible for the incumbent president to hang on to power after the expiration of her term.

In the first place, Pimentel said Resolution 10 retains the presidential form of government and does not contemplate on a shift to the parliamentary system under which Mrs. Arroyo can conceivably run for prime minister. He said the resolution also retains the provisions on term limits that are stipulated under the 1987 Constitution.

He cited three timelines for the federalism proposal - first, the public discussion and information campaign; second, the debate in the Senate and House of Representatives; and third, the actual adoption.

Pimentel said that on a personal level, he wants to see the deliberation on the proposal undertaken and completed while he is still in the Senate, but he admitted that this is not within his control.

He said that as long as he is still in office, he will block any attempt to distort the purpose of Resolution 10 for any selfish agenda by anyone.

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