The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO)-Office of the President, Pimentel Institute for Leadership & Governance (PILG), Hanns Seidel Foundation in partnership with the Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU) thru the Center for Local Governance with the assistance of the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate School-Master in Public Administration Program conducted the Forum on the Perspectives and Impact of Federalism for the Province of Camarines Sur at the Ateneo de Naga University Gymnasium on 18 October 2017.
The Forum aimed to educate, inform and open dialogue with various stakeholders on the idea, promises, and challenges of the planned shift to a Federal form of government. Specifically, it provided opportunity to: (1) generate the thoughts and feelings of the participants on Federalism; (2) understand the local perspectives on Federalism; and (3) know the promises and perils of Federalism in the Philippines.
Dr. Alfredo C. Fabay, Vice President for Higher Education of AdNU warmly welcomed the guests and participants for the event. He further articulated that it is an honor to be the host for the Provincial Forum.
The intent of the activity was briefly presented by Dr. Malu C. Barcillano, Director of the Center for Local Governance of AdNU. After which, she acknowledged the participants coming from the following sectors in the Province of Camarines Sur: Local Government Units, Academe, Business, Youth/ Student Leaders, and the Civil Society Organizations.
Afterwards, the Overview and Background of the Capability-Building Program on Federalism was presented by Atty. Ryan L. Estevez, MPP, Undersecretary of the PLLO.
The forum had three (3) sessions. During the first session, a Workshop on Federalism was conducted. The participants were clustered according to their sectors to be able to generate their thoughts and feelings towards Federalism. The following were the breakout groups and their respective facilitators and documenters:
1. Youth and Student Leaders: Mr. Patrick Henry Balmaceda and Ms. Alma Jane Babilonia;
2. Civil Society Organizations: Mr. Justice Doroteo Valenciano and Mr. Publio Peyra III;
3. Business Sector: Mr. Henry O’Neil Tadeo;
4. Academe: Mr. RolanJon Bulao and Ms. Frances Michelle Nubla;
5. Sangguniang Barangays of Naga City: Mr. Rodolfo Virtus, Jr. and Ms. Michelle Anne Morales;
6. 1st, 2nd and 3rd Districts of Camarines Sur: Ms. Julie Ann Barcelon and Mr. Harry Joseph Sartorio; and
7. 4th and 5th Districts of Camarines Sur: Mr. Francisco Rico Raquitico and Ms. Christaine Mae Bael
A brief summary of the workshop outputs was presented in plenary, wherein, generally, the participants have common understanding of Federalism which is anchored on the discussion presented and explained by one of the speakers: “In federalism sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a Central Governing Authority and Constituent Political Units like states or provinces.” As to their feelings, mixed positive and negative emotions such as happy, pessimistically hopeful, excited, skeptic, afraid, worried, uncertain and confused were expressed by the participants.
The second session was focused on the Talk on the Local Perspectives on Federalism. In this session, the Ateneo de Naga University-based Speakers presented and discussed the Local Perspectives on Federalism.
Federico Jose T. Lagdameo of the Philosophy Department presented and discussed the The State of Bikol in a Federal Philippines, wherein he provided a philosophical perspective on the establishment of a “State of Bikol” as a consequence of a possible shift to federal system of government along with the theoretical and conceptual roots, decentralization and autonomy, and the Secession, Democratization, and Cultural Deficits. At the end of his presentation he gave the participants with the questions to reflect on: Are we ready for autonomy? Are we REALLY ready for an autonomous Bikol State in a federal Philippines?
Mr. Duke Thomas G. Dolorical, Cluster Head of Political Science of the Department of Social Sciences followed by presenting and discussing the Local Perspectives on Federalism (Political and Socio-Economic). He delved on the Bicolandia’s Socio-Economic Profile towards the Political Profile. A clear explanation on the Persistence of Elite-Centric Structures, Bicol Movements Towards Federalism, and Structure and Agency was imparted to the participants.
After the presentations, an open forum followed with Mr. Michael Roland F. Hernandez of AdNU as the session moderator.
The third session was focused on the Promises and Perils of Federalism in the Philippines. The first speaker for the session was Dr. Sanjay P. Claudio, Dean of College of Public Administration and Political Science of Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He presented the Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan Survey released on August 1, 2016 which is the public opinion on the amendment of the 1987 Constitution to which 44% of the respondents Disagree, 37% Agree, and 19% Ambivalent. Along with this survey is the Constitutional Knowledge where 73% Little to No Knowledge and 27% Knowledgeable. He also imparted that 39% Supports the Proposal, 33% Against and 28% Undecided among the respondents. The advantages and disadvantages of Federalism, The Rise of “Imperial Manila” and the issue on Inequality were also highlighted in his presentation. He thoroughly explained the 4 Principles of Federalism such as (1) Self-Rule; (2) Shared-Rule; (3) Subsidiary; and (4) Solidarity.
The last speaker was Hon. Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. former Senate President of the Republic of the Philippines. In his talk entitled Balancing the Distribution of Government Powers (Federalism), he stated that the reason for his proposal to shift to a federal system from a highly centralized system of government was “primarily because the concentration of powers in the Central Government hampers the speedy development of the nation.” He cited the historical fact of Sabah as part of the Philippines’ territory, and its possibility to be converted as another federal state of the nation. He also mentioned Scarborough Shoal and Kalayaan group of islands.
He stressed the creation of the 12 Federal States in the Philippines. In the proposed Federal form of Government, there will be Five Federal States for Luzon. These are: (1) The Federal State of Northern Luzon:9 Provinces, 13 Cities, 206 Municipalities and 5,576 Barangays; (2) The Federal State of Cordillera: 6 Provinces, 2 Cities, 75 Municipalities and 1,176 Barangays; (3) The Federal State of Central Luzon: 7 Provinces, 14 Cities, 116 Municipalities and 3,102 Barangays; (4) The Federal State of Southern Tagalog: 5 Provinces, 19 Cities, 123 Municipalities and 4,018 Barangays; (5) The Federal State of Bicol: 5 Provinces, 6 Cities, 87 Municipalities, and 2,921 Barangays. Metro Manila will be a Federal Administrative Region like that of the Washington D.C, New Delhi or Kuala Lumpur. It will cover 16 Cities, 1 Municipality and 1, 706 Barangays.
Visayas will have Four Federal States, such as: (1) The Federal State of Eastern Visayas: 6 Provinces, 7 Cities, 136 Municipalities and 4, 390 Barangays; (2) The Federals State of Central Visayas: 5 Provinces, 17 Cities, 136 Municipalities and 3,553 Barangays; (3) The Federal State of Western Visayas: 6 Provinces, 16 Cities, 117 Municipalities and 3990 Barangays; (4) The Federal State of Minparom: 11 Provinces, 16 Cities, 188 Municipalities and 4,528 Barangays.
Mindanao will have Three Federal States, specifically, (1) The Federal State of Northern Mindanao (which may be divided into two: The Federal State of Northwestern Mindanao and the Federal State of North-Eastern Mindanao): 11 Provinces, 16 Cities, 188 Municipalities and 4,528 Barangays; (2) The Federal State of Southern Mindanao: 11 Provinces, 13 Cities, 118 Municipalities and 2,943 Barangays; (3) The Federal State of Bangsamoro (with proposed change on the Bangsamoro Federal State: One Federal State for the Mainland Muslims of Mindanao-Maranaw, Maguidanaos and sub-tribes and Off-Shore Islands Muslim-Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi): 5 Provinces, 4 Cities, 116 Municipalities and 2, 572 Barangays.
The Presidential Form may be retained under Federalized Republic of the Philippines, wherein a president and a vice president will be elected nationwide as a Team,the qualifications will be the same with the current Constitution; except that the educational attainment must be at least Baccalaureate Degree from Colleges recognized by the Government; the terms will be 6 years without re-election.
The Federal Congress will have two Houses: (1) The Senate whose members will be elected by State, and (2) The House of Representatives whose members will be elected by districts. There will be increase in numbers of the senators since every State shall be represented by 6 senators, thus with the proposed Federal States, there will 87 senators. Both Local Government Units (Provinces, Cities, Municipalities and Barangays) and Supreme Court Structure and Shariah Courts will be retained.
He emphasized in his presentation that for federal system to be adopted, the Constitution must be revised which is basically through (1) Constitutional Convention; (2) Constituent Assembly; and (3) People’s Initiative. Moreover, the change must be approved by the People though a Plebiscite.
An open forum followed with Dr. Orville A. Ballitoc of the PLLO as the session moderator.The participants’ viewpoints were widened and enriched on the very significant national issue on the shift to the federalism as a form of government.
The synthesis of the forum was presented by Mr. Wilfredo B. Prilles, Jr., City Planning and Development Coordinator of Naga City and at the same time a faculty of the Graduate School of AdNU.
To conclude the one-day event, Atty. Avelino V. Sales, Jr., the Chair of the Board of Trustees and Faculty of the College of Law delivered his closing message.
The master of ceremonies was Dr. Jennifer C. San Jose, faculty of the Graduate School of AdNU.
By Justice Doroteo C. Valenciano