Robin Padilla gears up for federalism, eyes inviting ex-senators to hearings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 14)— Senator-elect Robin Padilla is bent on pushing for charter change in the next Congress, saying he believes Filipinos are now ready for the shift to federalism.

Past attempts to amend the Constitution failed due to pushback from senators. The shift from a unitary to a federal form of government, and decentralizing power to local governments, was a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte. In 2019, Duterte gave up on federalism, saying it is “not accepted” by most Filipinos. A Social Weather Stations survey in June 2018 showed only one in four Filipinos were aware of it.

Asked about this in a chance interview on Tuesday, Padilla said more Filipinos have come to understand federalism, thanks to the campaign period.

“Hindi naman ako naniniwala na yung 26 million na bumoto sa akin, dahil si Robin Padilla ako. Sino ba si Robin Padilla? Ex-convict, babaero, lahat na ng negative e. Lahat ng negative nasa akin na para hindi mo ko iboto. Pero bakit mo ko binoto? Kasi naniniwala sila sa federalism. Naniniwala sila sa pagbabago,” Padilla said.

[Translation: I do not believe that the 26 million voted for me because I am Robin Padilla. Who is Robin Padilla after all? Ex-convict, womanizer, all of these negative things say you should not vote for me. Why did they vote for me anyway? Because they believe in federalism. They believe in change.]

Padilla, an actor and action star, topped the 2022 senatorial race with more than 26.6 million votes. The first-time lawmaker went to the Senate on Tuesday for a briefing with the chamber’s legislative department about rules and procedures. He said it was the culmination of a three-day program he took at the Development Academy of the Philippines about the legislature.

Orientation for all incoming senators will be on June 28, two days before they assume office.

Poised to be chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, Padilla said his first order of business will be to file a bill on charter change. He plans to invite outgoing senators who had reservations about charter change, including Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and current committee chairman Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

“Kasi gusto ko naman na magkaroon ng healthy discussion (Because I want to have a healthy discussion),” he said.

He also expressed regret he will not have a chance to debate with Drilon, a veteran lawmaker, at the Senate plenary. He said he’s 100% ready for the job of a senator and will use the Filipino language in debates.

Aside from federalism, Padilla is also pushing for the reinstatement of the death penalty for heinous crimes. He said corrupt government officials should also suffer capital punishment.

“Katulad nung pinag-aralan namin sa Development Academy of the Philippines, ang mga namumuno sa atin na nasa gobyerno, walang accountability,” Padilla said. “Kailangan heinous crime ‘yan.”

[Translation: As we have studied at the Development Academy of the Philippines, government officials have no accountability. Corruption should be a heinous crime.]