^

Opinion

No way to go but federalism

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

Each time there is an attempt to conclude an agreement between the Muslims in Mindanao and the Philippine government, it is stopped because of provisions that were unconstitutional. So we ask, why can’t they make it constitutional? That is the problem.

The objection against constitutional reform is the real stumbling block to a peace agreement. The Muslims want more independence while the government is stopped from granting it more independence because it may lead to secession.

Indeed both the Arroyo and Aquino governments have been accused of selling down the country if it signed up with the Muslim rebels.

The solution is to establish a federal state for the Muslims, but as far as I know neither the Muslims or the government are pursuing this line for negotiation.

Federalism is like freedom, hard to define but handled properly is the way to go for organizing good governance for huge populations with different ethnic groups.

*      *      *

I dug up a column I wrote when federalism was being debated during the 2005 Constitutional Commission.

“With more than 80 million people (now 100 since then) to govern in a unitary system,‘democracy’ is a very real problem. Democracy to us like most others means ‘representative democracy’ with others governing us. The larger the unit, the less people are able to participate or be involved in governance.

To be democratic in the Athenian sense of the word, we must reduce the size of government into manageable units. To me that is what makes federalism so attractive to many countries today. It is the modern day equivalent of political problem solving to achieve a democratic society as the Athenians had wanted. The federalist principle empowers smaller units of community so governance is more efficient. It is also more ‘democratic’ in the true sense of the word because more citizens, are able to participate in governance.

*      *      *

There has been a recent upsurge of the spread of federalism, and it has become fashionable to say it is the wave of the future, because many countries have found in it the answer to some of their more difficult political problems.

We need a way through which citizens could participate in government or at least come as close as possible to government. Obviously in the Philippines, with more than 80 million people to govern in a unitary system, ‘democracy’ is a very real problem. Democracy to us means ‘representative democracy’ with others governing us. The larger the unit, the less people are able to participate or be involved in governance.

To be democratic in the Athenian sense of the word, we must reduce the size of government into manageable units. To me that is what makes federalism so attractive to many countries today. It is the modern day equivalent of political problem solving to achieve a democratic society as the Athenians had wanted. The federalist principle empowers smaller units of community so governance is more efficient. It is also more ‘democratic’ in the true sense of the word because more citizens, although not all, are able to participate in governance.

In that conference I met Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, a Filipino-Canadian who served as a member of Parliament and a Cabinet minister in the administrations of Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.

I was invited to be a reactor to Dr. Pagtakhan’s presentation about the dynamics of Canadian parliamentary politics, the qualifications and the powers of the Prime Minister, the role and functions of the Cabinet and their ministers, the issue of minority governments, and the role of the opposition and the party system.

*      *      *

But the more we delay finding solutions in the Mindanao conflict, the graver the dangers we face with news that there is now an ISIS caliphate (the group of extremists behind gruesome murders in the Iraq-Syria war).  The Manila Times article was blaming the military and the national police for “noynoying’ about an imminent and grave danger. Maybe they are just waiting for action and policy direction from President Noynoy.

This is one noynoying that we cannot be dismissive about. According to the report some Moros have pledged allegiance to the Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and joined the campaign to make the Caliphate succeed in ruling the whole world?

*      *      *

I have two emails with announcements from groups that should lead to action. One is from the Assembly for System Change toward  National Transformation. or Panawagan sa Malawakang Pagbabago, Lipa City, Batangas, on 27th August. The assembly will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the covered courts of the Saint Francis de Sale Minor Seminary of Lipa.

Archbishop Arguelles said it would be a national, ecumenical, interfaith and multi-sectoral assembly in Lipa City of several hundred people from all over the country, including faith leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Archbishop Arguelles will host the event.

Speakers are headed by Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu City, on the “Role of the Church in Transformation Efforts” — Edsa I;  Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, on the “Role of the Church in Transformation Efforts” — Edsa II/Hyatt 10; Rev. Arthur S. Corpuz of the United Church of Manila, on the “Protestant Movement in Transformation Efforts,” Ulama Minister, on the “Role of the Muslims in National Transformation,” Fr. Romeo J. Intengan, SJ, on “The Moral Foundation of National Transformation” and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, on “Regime Change and Revolution Now.”

CPA/lawyer and former Biliran Representative Glenn Chong will speak on the “Mockery of the Electoral System.”

Registration of delegates will begin at 7 a.m., and a press conference will be held at 1:30 p.m.

The speeches will be followed by a solemn signing of the “Lipa Declaration on National Transformation.

*      *      *

The other invitation is from Integrity Initiative 2014 with the theme “Uniting for Integrity.” It will be held on September 19, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Dusit Manila Hotel.

ARCHBISHOP ARGUELLES

ARROYO AND AQUINO

ARTHUR S

BILIRAN REPRESENTATIVE GLENN CHONG

LIPA CITY

NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION

ROLE OF THE CHURCH

TRANSFORMATION EFFORTS

  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with