National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Noel K. Felongco. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY -- The lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) has proposed Monday a nationwide referendum to move forward this country’s shift to federalism.

“It is the platform that propelled then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency. It can win hands down in a referendum,” said NAPC Secretary Noel K. Felongco in an interview with local reporters, referring to Duterte's election campaign promise to change the present form of government.

Felongco said a referendum "is shaping up as a better alternative since both houses of Congress are not keen on pushing for federalism through Charter change."

He said the holding of a referendum can be made possible with an enabling resolution from the House of Representatives. The idea for a referendum was originally proposed by Secretary Adelino B. Sitoya of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, he added.

In support of the move, Felongco said NAPC will be holding regional consultations with sectoral organizations to enlist their support on federalism.

“This will culminate in a national meeting of all groups advocating federalism to come up with a common stand,” he said.

At the same time, Felongco said he will be consulting with the DILG undersecretary Jonathan Malaya to thresh out proposed programs for federalism.  

“It is important that there is a meeting of minds if we are to push federalism in terms readily understood by all,” he said.

Davao-based architect Florencio Gavino of the Kilos Pederal sa Pagbabago conceded that the holding of a referendum "is an exercise in direct democracy worthy of support."

“Of course, a shorter route is for President Duterte himself to take a direct hand by directing the Department of the Interior and Local Government to hold barangay assemblies nationwide that will, in turn, empower the President to take the necessary steps towards federalism,” he said. (PNA)