“Go for Federalism”. We must do this right or else we might create more problems than we intend to solve. The tough question, however is “How will we do it” Or “How will we shift to a Federal System?” (Atty. Aristeo Vicente Albay, FOREWORD, “HOW TO FEDERALIZE THE PHILIPPINES Manual,” 2017)
To assure that we are doing our shift to federalism the right way, this article, aside from the other federalism articles the author had written, were conceived. This is our humble service to the Filipino people.
“Con-Com” stands for Consultative Committee, a 25-man group created by Malacañang in 2018 headed by former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno to draft a Federal Constitution for the Philippines. The Con-Com, after about 5 months study, submitted their draft Federal-Presidential Constitution to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for appropriate action. Per latest info, the Con-Com draft Charter is still being studied by another government group for possible official endorsement by the President to Congress.
In this connection, we are posing several questions to Con-Com members which, hopefully, will be answered by any Con-Com member for our education. These issues are:
- How many of the appointed 25 Con-Com members have long experience advocating for federalism more so at the local level like barangay?
- Con-Com is only a Consultative Committee, why was there no real consultation done with our people especially with veteran Mindanao federalist groups BEFORE it proceeded with is study?
- Why was there no real consultation with our people of their draft Constitution but only limited information/education drive?
- Is Con-Com’s draft Constitution based on our people’s ideals and aspirations concerning federalism or not?
- If not, whose ideals and aspirations regarding federalism did the Con-Com base their proposed draft Constitution?
- Are Con-Com members aware that great majority of pro-federalism Filipinos want a competitive type of federalism with strong Federal Regional Governments with more powers and resources, and less intervention from the Federal National Government?
- What type of federalism are the Con-Com members proposing for our country?
- What set of criteria did Con-Com use in determining the number of Federated Regions in the country.
- Why did the Con-Com members not work closely with Malacañang financial team thus resulting in still unresolved financial disagreement between these two groups?
- What is Con-Com’s real intention concerning our existing Local Government Units (LGUs) by merely leaving LGUs to the mercy of the Federal Regional Governments?
- Are Con-Com members aware that when then Dr. Jose Abueva’s group recommended to President GMA the abolition of the existing provinces in their federalism model, President GMA retorted that it was a stupid proposition which could trigger political backlash from LGU officials?
- How came that Con-Com was overly concerned with less disruptions of the national government agencies but utterly unconcerned with serious disruption of the local government units with their federalism proposal?
- Why fragmentalize a small (area-wise) country like the Philippines (which is even smaller than the smallest provinces of China and Canada or federal states of USA and Australia) into 18 Federated Regions that will result in:
- Creation of “political of fiefdoms”.
- Promotion of Warlordism and Mendicancy
- Bloating tremendously our bureaucracy
- “Wreak havoc to our economy
- Leading to the abolition of provinces
- Why are members of Consultative Committee so defensive of their federalism proposal and acting as if they are members of Constitutional Commission?
We challenge any member of the Con-Com to immediately answer these 14 questions and publish their answers in this same newspaper for public evaluation.
Frankly, this opinion-writer considers the Con-Com’s federalism proposal as a RECIPE FOR DISASTER. If it is the Con-Com federalism model that will be subjected to a Plebiscite, this old veteran federalist will campaign hard for its rejection. The Con-Com’s current federalism 18 weak Federated Regions proposal will not be the interest of the Filipino people and also a great disservice to President Duterte.