MALACANANG, February 10, 2004
(OPS) The Citizen’s Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP) has lauded President Macapagal-Arroyo’s for her firm advocacy of federalism as a constitutional reform that the country needs in order to speed up its development.

In a statement, Rey Magno Teves, CMFP national convenor, expressed their gratitude to the President for her unequivocal support for a shift to federalism and parliamentary form in her public statements here and abroad.

In a dialogue with CMFP leaders, the President stressed her agreement with the CMFP that our highly centralized, inefficient and ineffective unitary form of government should be replaced by a federal system.

If elected to a full six-year term in the May elections, the President said she would initiate charter change by urging Congress to call a constitutional convention whose delegates may be elected at the same time as the barangay elections in 2005, in order to save funds.

The President explained her reasons for giving more power, authority, and resources to regional governments are based on the following objectives: (1) to bring governance and public service closer to the people; (2) to speed up development in all regions; (3) to empower the people by improving their lives and their access to decision-makers; (4) to reduce corruption; and (5) to make government more responsive and accountable to the citizens.

She said that her reflections and commitment to a shift to federalism is based on her practical experience in governance as trade and industry undersecretary, social welfare and development secretary, senator, vice president, and as president.

The CMFP said that there is now growing support for federalism among leaders in local government, civil society, academe, and business.

The CMFP is a nationwide non-government organization (NGO) with regional chapters and card-bearing members. It was set up in Mindanao over four years ago. It has prepared a draft constitution for a federal republic as its contribution to the growing national movement for charter change

GMA calls on all candidates to conduct high-level campaign

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today called on all candidates to conduct their campaign on a high level to give voters the opportunity to make the right choices as she reiterated her administration’s commitment to clean, orderly and honest elections.

"As the campaign starts today, Feb 10, I would like to call upon all the candidates to take the high road of prudence, decency and civility in the fight for the vote," the President said in a statement.

"Our people deserve an electoral campaign that gives them a good view of the platforms of each contender, a balanced presentation of issues by the media, and a high regard for democratic principles," the President added.

She also reiterated her desire that the polls be held in a manner to enhance and highlight the nation’s democracy.

The President also ordered all government agencies to assist the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the performance of its functions.

"Our commitment to clean, orderly and honest polls is undiminished and all concerned government agencies are at the beck and call of Comelec in the attainment of this objective," she said.

The official campaign period for national officials starts tomorrow (February 10) according to the schedule issued by the Comelec.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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