Heeding the call to reach a wider audience, the Ateneo Policy Center and the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) continue its six-city roadshow on federalism. The second part of the series titled “A Forum on the Economic, Social and Political Viability of Federalism in the Philippines” was held at The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites, Davao City last September 22, 2018. The event was attended by approximately 150 members of BCBP from various chapters in Davao.
The first speaker, Dr. Alex B. Brillantes Jr. of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG), explained why federalism is a much needed reform for the Philippines and emphasized the need to define the discourse in the context of nation building. This includes going past simplistic dichotomies and directing the discussion toward the continuing search for responsive politico-administrative structures and processes for the country.
However, Dr. Brillantes also cautioned that the shift to a federal form of government cannot be done overnight. It is a process that requires changing people’s mindset and building on the gains from the previous reforms implemented.
Subsequently, Professor Gene L. Pilapil of the UP Diliman Political Science Department presented a critique of the Bayanihan Draft Charter drafted by the Consultative Committee on the Review of the 1987 Constitution (ConCom). According to Prof. Pilapil, the most fundamental limitation of the Bayanihan Draft Charter is the absence of a coherent transition plan. He also underscored that the ConCom charter subjects its constituents to an “eternity clause” which will prevent future governments and generations from course correcting in case it yields unintended consequences and results.
Lastly, Prof. Pilapil pointed out that time has ran out on the ConCom Charter and it can be now considered politically dead. He cited 3 main reasons for the charter’s demise namely (1) lukewarm support from the president, the senators, and the House of Representatives, (2) heavy opposition from key economic managers of the Duterte administration, and finally (3) timing issue as the deliberation and possible implementation period coincide with the 2019 midterm elections.
During the open forum and discussion, four main reactors were invited to share their views on the points raised by Dr. Brillantes and Prof. Pilapil.
Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, founder and president of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI), shared three main points that could define the federalism discourse. First, federalism will not and should not be realized within Pres. Duterte’s watch as a proper transition will go beyond 2022. Secondly, political party reforms, universal freedom of information law, electoral reforms, and executory ban on political dynasties are necessary preconditions should we decide to revise the 1987 constitution. Finally, he noted that when the previous constitutions of the Philippines (e.g. Constitution of Biak na Bato, Malolos Constitution, 1935 Constitution, etc.) were drafted, people were not aware of the detailed provisions. Rather, a broad understanding of the Filipino people on the need for a constitutional amendment is more important.
John Patrick Pineda of the Youth and the Secretary-General of the Youth for Human Rights and Democracy gave full emphasis on the importance of the role of the youth and the need to involve them in the discourse as this reform will have intergenerational impact.
Mr. Arturo M. Milan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asserted that Mindanaoans tend to look at alternative forms of government because Mindanao has been left out, forgotten, and suffered so much throughout past administrations. Furthermore, he stressed that too much concentration of powers in the national government, especially in terms of infrastructure and development projects, has hampered businesses to flourish in Mindanao.
Finally, Mr. Romulo N. Arancon, former administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority, maintained that federalism will address problems such as poverty, inequality, allocation of resources as well as the lack of representation. He also called for a critical and open mind when conversing about proposed reforms under the Duterte administration and encouraged groups such as the BCBP to have more discussions that will inform various groups and stakeholders.
The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) was represented by a large delegation of 12 registered delegates to the UNIAPAC World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal last November, 22-24, 2018.
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