Revolution seen if federalism process is stalled—Hugpong
Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - January 15, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - If Congress dribbles on the issue of federalism, a mass action is expected, according to lawyer Joel Obar of the Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines.

In an interview during his 58th birthday, Obar said the term of President Rodrigo Duterte is only six years, and he has less than two years to prepare for a plebiscite in 2019 to become a transition president up to 2022, until the first election under the new Constitution.

Obar said if Hugpong-now considered the biggest grassroots movement for federalism outside of government-will realize that efforts are made to delay the process, the people will go to the streets in the same way that the people did in 1986.

The only difference is maybe in 1986 the people involved are from Luzon, but when it happens this time, Hugpong will make sure the streets of Manila will be flooded with people from the Visayas and Mindanao, including the MNLF, the MILF, the Lumads, and other Visayan groups, who are all for a federal form of government.

Obar recalled that what happened in 1986 was a revolution of an elite against another elite, the Tagalogs against another Tagalogs, so the moment "we go to the streets again, we have to see to it that the lessons of 1986 will not happen again. All revolutionary forces will be one to support a federal form of government,"

Congress has to choose, to spend P7 billion for a Constitutional Convention in changing the form of government to federalism or to pay it with blood through a revolution like what happened in other countries, said Obar, the legal counsel of Hugpong.

Hugpong strongly agrees with Duterte in saying that the only solution to the Mindanao problem is to give them their own government, control of their natural resources, and respect of their culture and tradition, he said.

Obar also said that no amount of local government autonomy can give LGUs control of its natural resources but only in a federal form of government because under existing laws, all natural resources belongs to the state, so one must become first a state for control of the resources. The people in Mindanao understand this, he said.

On the other hand, there may be truth to the possibility of warlordism, and rise of political lords in a federal state, but Obar contended that at least if one is a warlord in Cebu, for example, it's a problem of the Cebuanos.

That should not be a problem of the Ilongos and vice versa, if they should not allow that to prevail and to happen, Obar pointed out.

"But at least we will divide the country in such a manner that the people will resolve their own problem. There will be labor pains but the people will learn to have their own dignity as Ilocanos, as Moros, as Cebuanos, and as Warays, among others," he said.

"I don't see any President after Duterte who is willing to unload the powers of the presidency and give these to the regions. Only Duterte is able to have that idea of unloading the powers of the center and distribute these to the other regions," Obar added. (FREEMAN)

REVOLUTION
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