MANILA, Philippines – The people should not vote for candidates who are opposed to a federal system of government in the May 2019 elections, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Thursday.
Speaking before 3,000 new members of the PDP-Laban in Patin-ay, Agusan del Sur, Alvarez said the ruling party will actively campaign against candidates for senators and other elective positions who will not push for the shift to federalism, which he said would open up the development potential of the provinces and the regions.
“I have one request, please don’t vote for candidates, particularly for senator, who are opposing federalism,” Alvarez told the new PDP members composed of majority of the local officials of the province led by Agusan Del Sur Governor Edward Adolph Plaza, 2nd District Rep. Evelyn Mellana and 1st District Rep. Maria Valentina Plaza.
He said the ruling party was pushing for federalism to ensure inclusive development, particularly of the poor and neglected areas of the country.
With the mass oath-taking, the province of Agusan Del Sur became the newest addition to the dominant party’s bailiwicks.
“Ganito kasi yan, kung ayaw mo ng (It’s like this, if you don’t like) federalism we really have to campaign against you. Kasi ayaw mo na umasenso yung mga probinsya (Because you don’t want progress for you province),” Alvarez said. “If a candidate is opposed to federalism, then he is clearly against the interest of provinces and regions.”
“That is why we want this approved as part of our fundamental law, to ensure that we have changed the government structure when President Duterte steps down,” he said.
The House leader said the campaign should now focus on issues rather than personalities. “Mali yun. Dapat issue-oriented tayo,” he said.
He challenged senatorial hopefuls for the 2019 elections to make a clear stand on the issue of federalism: “It is as simple as that. If you want the provinces to have the right to chart their own destiny then you should go for federalism. If not, you belong to the other side,” Alvarez said.
Accompanying Alvarez in the event were Davao City 1st District Rep. Karlo Nograles and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo Umali, whom the Speaker said would be included in the senatorial slate of the administration party for the 2019 senatorial contest.