Shift to federalism: A lethal experiment, a fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell » Manila Bulletin News

Manila Bulletin Philippines

Breaking News from the Nation's leading newspaper

Tempo

Online Newspaper

Showbiz and Celebrity News

Sports News

World News
News Asia

Shift to federalism: A lethal experiment, a fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell

Published

Hilario Davide Jr.

Hilario Davide Jr.

By Hilario Davide Jr.
Former Chief Justice

 (Part I)

(Speech delivered on November 21, 2017 at the Joint Membership Forum of the Makati Business Club (MBC), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and the Employees Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) held at the Manila Polo Club, Makati City.)

I have been asked to talk on the much publicized and propagandized topic: a shift from the unitary to a federal system of government in our country; and, for that purpose, to amend the Constitution via the shortest mode – a Constituent Assembly. This shortest mode is expected to submit for ratification the proposed Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines in May of 2018 so that the first elections under the federal system can be held on the second Monday of May, 2019, the date of our next regular national synchronized elections.

Why the unusual haste in this move to the federal system? Early in his term the President, who is openly for the federal system, wanted a Constitutional Convention. But he later agreed with Speaker Alvarez of the House to have, instead, a Constitutional Assembly to save on expenses and to expedite the process. The President even issued in December of last year an Executive Order creating a sort of Preparatory Commission which shall be tasked to draft the proposed new Constitution for the Federal Republic of the Philippines to be thereafter submitted to the Constituent Assembly.

It appears, however, that the Lower House cannot wait for that. Through its Committee on Constitutional Amendments, it is now rushing the drafting of the proposed Constitution for the Federal Republic of the Philippines by a Constituent Assembly with three proposals at hand serving as its working drafts. The first proposal, in 63 pages, is Senate Resolution No. 10 filed by then Senator Nene Pimentel during the Fourteenth Congress; the second is Resolution No. 08, in 83 pages, introduced lately in the House by Representatives Aurelio Gonzales and Eugene Michael de Vera; and the third is the proposal, in 67 pages, submitted by the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute. Each of these proposals can produce the longest Constitution the Philippines will ever have.

The principal reason adduced in these proposals and by other known proponents for the shift to federalism is that our present unitary system is highly centralized and has created an “Imperial Manila” – not imperial Makati – which nurtures and perpetuates a tremendous imbalance in its favor and against the present political subdivisions or local government units – the autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays – in the exercise of governmental powers and in the distribution and allocation of government resources, funds, and projects as well as in development, growth, progress, prosperity, and stability. To remove that imbalance there must be put up between the highly centralized authority and these local government units a strong autonomous sovereign governmental authority or seat of power which shall share with the authority and power of the central government to the end that the local government units will truly enjoy the blessings of genuine autonomy.

I would forthwith assert that a shift to federalism or amendments to our present Constitution to accomplish the goals and objectives of the proponents of federalism is totally unnecessary. The reasons adduced to support it are deceptively misleading and unfounded. All such goals and objectives can adequately and sufficiently be accomplished, and the reasons disproven, by merely, but effectively and efficiently, implementing the relevant provisions of our present 1987 Constitution for strong local autonomy and decentralization.

One whole Article of this Constitution – Article X – is devoted to Local Government. It provides for the infrastructure guaranteeing this local autonomy and decentralization. This article orders Congress to enact a Local Government Code which shall, among other things, provide for more responsive and accountable local government structures instituted through a system of decentralization, allocate among the different local government units their power, responsibilities, and resources (Sec. 3). The first Congress convened under our present Constitution enacted in 1991 the Local Government Code.

This Article X likewise provides that local governments shall be entitled to an equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the natural wealth within their respective areas, in the manner provided by law, including the sharing in the same with the inhabitants therein (Sec. 7). It provides for the creation of metropolitan subdivisions (Sec. 11), and grants local government units power to group themselves, consolidate, or contribute their efforts, services, and resources for purposes commonly beneficial to them in accordance with law (Sec. 13).

The same Article X directs the President to provide for regional development councils for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units in the region (Sec. 14).

In brief, effective decentralization or power sharing between the central government and the political subdivisions are already assured and mandated – not denied or impeded – by the Constitution. On the contrary, they are hampered or impeded by the failure to implement the Constitution.

If more are still needed, Congress needs only to amend the 1991 Local Government Code.

Our 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, which was drafted by the 1986 Constitutional Commission is the best Constitution of the world. It is the only one which is PRO-God, PRO-Filipino, PRO-people, as well as PRO in all of these: life, marriage, family, poor, social justice and human rights, women, youth, environment, among many others. It is the only Constitution that institutionalizes the doctrine that a public office is a public trust, meaning that all public officers and employees are servants of the people (Section 1, Article XI), thereby enshrining the “servant leadership” principle that Jesus Christ Himself proclaimed. It contains sufficient provisions against abuse of powers and guarantees people’s active participation in governance, including the use of people power. I know this Constitution very well because I was, together with our good friend, Ricardo Romulo, among the commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission who drafted it. When we voted on its final draft on 12 October 1986, I ended the explanation of my affirmative vote with these words: “This is the Constitution I am willing to die for.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court, two previous attempts to amend this 30-year-old Constitution failed. The first was to lift the term limits of elected officials, especially that of the President to allow the then incumbent President to run for re-election; the second was to adapt the parliamentary system so that the then incumbent President who cannot run for re-election can run for Congress and be elected Prime Minister.

Sad to say, however, a recent survey disclosed that only about 27% of our people know about the Constitution. Upon the other hand, a great majority of its provisions, especially on social justice, have not been implemented. A number of provisions require enabling statutes or laws to give life to them. The commands for Congress or the government to do so are prescribed about 150 times in the Constitution through such phrases as “The State shall,” “Congress shall,” or “as provided by law.” Similarly, the public trust character of public office remains wantonly disregarded by our public servants.

Shall we now entice or lure our people to amend or revise a Constitution which only 27% of them know? Or, worse yet, a Constitution that is not fully implemented and given life primarily because Congress has been sleeping on its solemn duty to pass laws to implement its mandates?

Needless to stress, all public servants who propose to amend the Constitution, especially that of adapting the federal system, must first meticulously examine and understand the Constitution and honestly ask themselves: Have we done enough to be true and faithful public servants elected or appointed under the Constitution? They must remind themselves that upon assumption of office, each took a solemn oath to, among others, “uphold and defend the Constitution” (Sec. 1, Chapter 10, Book I, Administrative Code of the Philippines). By express mandate of the Constitution (Sec. 5, Article VII), the president, vice president, and acting president shall take a solemn oath to, among others, “preserve and defend the Constitution.”

(To be continued)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

  • Berdugo Katapang

    pagcor is manipulating whatever it can to justify its greed and its non legal acts. pagcor is trying to involve other government agencies like the osg in hiding what it can most specially its greed and money making activity. we should pressure pagcor in removing graft and corruption in its ranks,

    • SUPERBI

      this is clearly a case of trying to justify their illegal acts. pagcor has been known in the past and even in the future to be involved in corrupt practices and deals. we must not allow pagcor to involve other government agencies in hiding and getting support for their corrupt acts.//

    • Liwanag Para sa Bayan

      pagcor must be consistently reminded that they are serving the people and the government. the government is the people and they are entitled to better services. how can the government support the people and its services if the money that is supposed to go to government goes to corruption,,

    • maka pili

      pagcor has the necessary authority and responsibility to provide government with the funds needed to support several projects. unfortunately the greed of some pagcor officials have resulted in corruption and the government not fully getting the benefits of the earnings of pagcor.//

    • Parasa Bayan

      online gambling is simply not in the function of pagcor and can be used to further expand their greed and their corrupt practices. we should make sure that pagcor does not abuse its authority and supervision. we should always be critical to pagcors greed and in making sure that they support our president in his anti corrupt acts,

  • SUPERBI

    pagcor should not continue to hide its greed and their actions like online gambling which is clearly something that they should not be doing. pagcor is more concerned on its greed and corruption. they should not be allowed to operate and supervise online gambling as clearly this is not in their mandate

    • Liwanag Para sa Bayan

      we need government agencies that will be able to deliver for the government funds needed for projects that will improve the lives of the people. pagcor has the funds however they are operating outside of their legal function and we are not sure if all their earnings are being returned to the government,

    • maka pili

      pagcor officials should be investigate. their lifestyle should be checked and if found that they are involved in corruption they should be replaced immediately. our president does not approve of corruption and they should follow the example of the president.,,

    • Parasa Bayan

      we should not give pagcor a chance in continuing their greedy acts and corrupt practices. we should continue our vigilance over the acts of pagcor in hiding and justifying their corruption. we should pressure pagcor to always be transparent and clear in all their activities
      /.//

  • Rey David

    AFP Acquires State-of-the-Art UAVs

    It is encouraging to note that the AFP will finally acquire a highly capable state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that will have a “game-changing” impact on the war against terror, especially for military operations similar to the ongoing battle for Marawi.

    Israel, the world pioneer in UAVs (yes, even before the American started using them), is now selling us their latest and most capable UAV, which is priceless for our many military operations and missions. The latest news on the acquisition of this system shows (https://www. update. ph/2017/08/ph-to-acquire-4-israeli-unmanned-aerial-vehicles/19847; http://maxdefense. blogspot. com/2017/08/ philippine-air-force-to-procure-elbits.html) past operational tragedies like the Mamasapano Massacre and the costly operations (in life and materiel) in Basilan and Sulu can now be avoided by our war planners.,

    • Lucas Temoteo

      the strengthening of our military has been long overdue. it is only through this government and our president that we are seeing the right attention deserved by our troops. we should continue supporting our military and our president in his dedication to make sure that our military is able and prepared.//

    • Kwak Kwak Kwak

      preparing our military for all the threats in our country is one of the best initiatives of our president and his administration. we should support our president in his dedication to fully upgrade our military. he knows what is best for our military and is doing everything in his control to make sure that the military will be ready to protect us,

    • MAYPAGASA

      there is no room for corruption in this administration and as a result our president is now upgrading the capabilities of our military. if there is no corruption then we have enough money and resources to upgrade our capabilities. let us support our president in his dedication to our military and his goal of upgrading their capabilities.//

    • Simon antonio

      we have seen during the marawi incident that our military needs to be upgraded to cope up with the threats to our country. let us support our president for his dedication in making our military more capable in dealing with all the threats to our country. this president clearly is working for the benefit of our military
      ,

  • Rey David

    this clearly shows the support of our current president and government to our troops. our president has supported our troops all the way and he is not only saying things but also showing actions in his words. we should now take care of our troops as they are our defense for all the enemies of the state including terrorists,..

    • Lucas Temoteo

      our soldiers are taking their lives on the line whenever they go to the field. it is only proper that we give them the right equipment to support their work. it is only in this administration that we are seeing the full support of our government to our troops. we should applaud this government and president duterte in his honest dedication to our military,

    • MAYPAGASA

      protecting our military should be the primary concern of our government and this is indeed what our president is doing. he is like a good father who is protecting our capabilities in the military so we can react more quickly and properly in case of any threat. we should support our president in his goal of strengthening our military/

    • Simon antonio

      a capable military will make our country earn the respect of our neighbors. the upgrade of our military is an important first step for us to gain the respect of our neighbor countries. our president knows this and he is not only saying or making promises to the military but also making actions in making sure that they get the right equipment,.//