MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/24 April) – A Duterte Presidency will open the door for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to allow for the shift from the present unitary, Presidential form of government to a federal form of government, Dr. Jose Abueva, former President of the University of the Philippines said.
Abueva ,who served as Chairman of the Consultative Commission that was tasked in 2005 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to propose the necessary revisions to the 1987 Constitution, also welcomed Duterte’s idea to push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and make the new Bangsamoro political entity a template for federalism.
“It’s one big step, it’s a good start. Let’s try this Bangsamoro region, let’s see how they will demonstrate to the advantage of the people and improve the living standards and this will a template also to other Bangsa, the Bangs Iloco, Bangsa Bicol and others, he told participants to the forum, “State of Autonomy and Decentralization” on Friday.
Presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of Davao City and the lone Mindanawon candidate espousing a shift to federalism, had vowed during his February 27 visit to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and during his rally in Cotabato City on the same day that he would push for the passage of the BBL and make it a model for the rest to follow, as he acknowledged shifting to federalism will take a longer time because it requires amending the Constitution.
The government and MILF had signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March 2014, after 17 years of peace negotiations. The passage of the BBL will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Abueva said the ARMM is not a real autonomous region because it is still controlled by Malacanang.
The forum aimed to revisit and review past and present opportunities for the federal cause as well as its weaknesses, to provide the next President insights on the issue.
Abueva said the present system of government is “obsolete, a failure and dysfunctional of the quest for genuine governance.”
He said incumbent leaders are deeply engaged in transactional politics, their interests based on their power and ability to give protection and favors.
He said there are no more political parties based on platforms and that what we have now are “just association of politicians that changes members every time there is a new elected President.”
“Bulok na ang sistema noon, bulok pa din ngayon (The system was rotten before, it is still rotten now), Abueva said, adding there is a need for drastic change to fit the present needs of governing the society.
Abueva said his group, the Citizens Movement for Federal Philippines, has long been studying the 1987 constitution and has comprehensive set of ideas of revising the political system.
Lawyer Benedicto Bacani, executive director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance said the timing of the forum is special as the country is about to elect new set of officials.
“The issue is worth discussing to revisit and review for Charter Change, an important coherent drive to regional autonomy,” he said.
The gathering was attended by selected constitutionalists, academe, lawyers, civil society representatives, indigenous leaders, diplomats and local elected officials in ARMM and Cordillera regions supported and organized by the Institute of Autonomy and Governance and Konrad Adenaur Stiftung. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)