Decentralized- A federalist is not selfish, he shares what he has and allow his partner to grow personally. He doesn’t let all the powers to make decision concentrated in his hands. He knows that power must be shared. So you see, it’s no wonder that people who are too controlling had their relationships spiraled out of control.

Autonomy- Comes with decentralization is autonomy, a federalist understands that independence is part of growth. He would always be there to assist her, but he’ll never be a hindrance in the attainment of her dreams.

Promotes specialization- A federalist believes that her partner is special in every single way, every inch of her. A federalist love to see his partner make use of her core competencies and special abilities to develop herself even more.

Power to make decisions- A federalist would allow her partner to make decisions on her own provided that these will enhance her growth and sense of independence. A federalist divulges decision making responsibilities because he trust that her partner is capable of making right and informed decisions.

Power to take over resources- In matters of resources, a federalist would always encourage her partner to take charge over her own resources given that these are channeled towards the self-improvement. She can spend her money on things and projects she deemed fit and helpful to her development.

With all these qualifications, who cannot love a Federalist, or Federalism even?
Published in Commentaries
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Task Team on Federalism under the Office of Undersecretary Emily O. Padilla spearheaded the first Executive Conference on Federalism in the Province of Bukidnon. The event is in collaboration with the Konrad-Adenauer- Stiftung (KAS) Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Bukidnon Province, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and the Local Government of Valencia City.

The conference,which was attended by 130 participants, was held last 7 February 2017 at The Hotel de Susana and Resort in Valencia City.

Hon. Azucena “Sunny” P. Huervas, Valencia City mayor opened the forum by thanking the collaborating organizations and speakers for coming and sharing their knowledge on Federalism. She recognized the mayors and participants as they hold the greater responsibility of applying such learning in the future Federal system being in the administrative offices.

Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr. of Bukidnon in his solidarity message called for the shift to federalism said that “the decades old system has never been corrected, on the contrary, hunger is being suffered, it goes up and it goes down, but it has never been resolved. Why? Because of the system”.

Assistant Regional Director Nilo P. Castanares had been grateful for the event as he humbly admitted that he also needs to know more about federalism especially that they are responsible for advancing the movement in their region.

Professor Edmund Tayao, Local Government and Development Foundation (LOGODEF) executive director said that power and authority depends on capacity and capability, and that establishment of states must be organic rather than imposed.

“The system can change the character of people”, this is what Atty. Raul Lambino, Deputy Secretary General of the PDP-Laban, therefore, the need to change the current constitution.

Mr. Conrado Generoso, DILG Task Team on Federalism core team member and consultant highlighted important role of social media in building awareness on Federalism and coming up with the majority of the public in supporting the shift to Federalism.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder discussed the urgency of stipulating the 4 salient preconditions in the shift to federalism. Without it, there is no inclusive and genuine Federal system.

Congressman Rufus B. Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) made a comparison of the present judicial system, and what it would look like under a federal system with all the necessary reforms.

Mr. Bruce A. Colao capped off the conference by providing current statistics on the prevalence of poverty and corruption in the country, and how federalism can be a game-changer.

The executive forum was a success thanks to the collaboration of different groups supporting the call for federalism. As part of the set of initiatives of CDPI and DILG, there will be another round of forum on Federalism and Social Market Economy on March 2017.
Published in News
Friday, 03 February 2017 10:21

Speaker eyes con-ass by July

MANILA, Philippines - If he could have his way, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants senators and congressmen to convene as a constituent assembly (con-ass) in July to work on a new Constitution.

He said lawmakers would rewrite the Charter to shift the nation to a federal system, as advocated by President Duterte, and to relax its restrictive economic provisions.

Alvarez said he expected Duterte to soon appoint members of the consultative commission on Charter change, which the Chief Executive created in December.

Alvarez said the commission should submit its report to the President and Congress in six months.

The Speaker has a three-year timeline for shifting the nation to the federal system.

He wants the new Charter to be submitted to the people in a plebiscite that would be held together with the midterm elections in May 2019.

To prepare his colleagues for their con-ass work, the House and the ruling PDP-Laban party organized a seminar on federalism last Wednesday.

In a message to participants, Alvarez thanked them for their “show of support and enthusiasm” in joining the discussion on Cha-cha.

“When this event was proposed to the Speaker, he gave it his full support. The kind of structure we have will dictate the strategic trajectory of our country in terms not limited to peace and development. Strategy always follows structure. Let us remember this,” he said.

Alvarez noted that under the present Constitution, the President serves as both head of state and head of government.

“From our historical experience, this has been an overwhelming task. This kind of setup has failed to respond effectively and efficiently to the recurring issues that have continuously plagued our nation. It has also adversely affected the needs and collective aspirations of our people,” the Speaker said.

“We have to consider the possibility that the structure we have now is no longer fit for the pressing needs of today and it is not compatible with meeting the challenges that tomorrow will bring,” he said.

Duterte has expressed preference for a federal system with a strong president and a prime minister who assists the chief executive in running the government.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez has proposed a mix of federal-presidential setup with a two-chamber Congress. On the other hand, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. wants a pure federal-parliamentary form with a unicameral or one-chamber parliament.

Benitez, Rodriguez, Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and several House members are pushing for the relaxation of the Constitution’s economic provisions to allow 100-percent foreign ownership of land and businesses.
Published in News
The Department of Internal and Local Government (DILG) has come into full swing as they spearheaded campaigns, fora, symposiums, consultations and education drives on Federalism with various sectors and groups.

Today, the DILG Task Team is holding a consultative conference at the NAPOLCOM Center, Quezon Avenue with representatives from Federalism groups and stakeholders in crafting an inclusive roadmap to federalism. The CDPI has been invited to join in this consultative conference and share the centrist democrats’ position regarding the federalism roadmap.

We are glad to inform that the DILG Task Team on Federalism has adopted the Centrist Democrats' position in passing the salient pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism such as the passage of Political Party Development Act, passage of Freedom of Information Bill, passage of Anti-Dynasty Bill, and Electoral Reforms.

Dr. Enerico M. Sampang, Program Manager on Federalism, DILG Task Team on Federalism have shared a common position with CDPI.

"We have adopted the position of Mr. Lito Lorenzana and his group [the Centrist Democratic Party and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute] as pre-requisites in pursuing Federalism in the Philippines. We have presented this to the President already.", he said during the consultative conference.

For Federalism to succeed, the four preconditions must be put in place. First precondition is political party reform. Political parties must possess an ideological core, aggregating the needs and aspirations of a diverse segment of our society. Second precondition is to enact a law banning the Political Dynasties to diffuse concentration of powers by the dynastic families in the barangay, local, and national positions. The third precondition is the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) to enforce transparency in all transactions in government allowing public access to information pertaining to official acts. The fourth precondition is initiate electoral reforms that would put in place a system that will not pervert the will of the populace. Any system that adheres to the democratic principles should consider clean and fair elections as imperatives.

With the support from DILG, the following prerequisites will serve as basis for advocating the Federalism model and for the continuing conversations with other Federalism groups and stakeholders.
Published in News
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 10:58

Germany supports PH quest for federalism

GERMANY is willing to assist the Duterte administration in its move from a unitary to a federal form of government for the Philippines, German officials in Manila said on Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been consistently pushing for the shift, saying it will facilitate better delivery of public funds and services to the areas outside the Philippine capital.“We support the discussion in the Philippines. We are also in dialogue with the Philippine government,” Michael Hasper, deputy head of mission of the German Embassy in Manila, told The Manila Times’ editors and reporters in a roundtable interview on Tuesday.

The move toward federalism has been gaining momentum in the country as some quarters see it as the best means to address the longstanding ethno-religious conflicts in Mindanao.

Hasper said the Philippines can use Germany’s experience as a guide that could help Manila address the specific needs of the country and its people, although he and the new German Ambassador Gordon Kricke stressed that the nation must fashion its own form of federalism according to the specific circumstances and needs of its people.

Germany is a democratic, federal parliamentary republic, with federal legislative power vested in the Bundestag (parliament) and the Bundesrat (representative body of Länder, or regional states).

The Federal Republic of Germany is divided into 16 regional states, each with its own constitution, legislative body and government that can pass all kinds of laws except in defense, foreign affairs and finance which concerns the federal government.

The federal government consists of the Chancellor and ministers who are drawn from the members of the constitutional and legislative body, called Bundestag.

Ambassador Kricke said federalism is an instrument to foster political participation and democracy.

“Federalism is not only about distributing financial resources and competencies but also about enabling the population to participate, to have a stake in the public debate or to be more involved,” he said.

“That is certainly one of the reasons why it works so well and why it is so important to the Germans because they feel that they have a stronger influence on decision-making,” he added.

Just recently, a delegation of Filipino politicians and scholars traveled to Berlin to meet with members of the federal government and familiarize themselves with the system.

Headed by former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., one of the prime proponents of federalism, the group consisted of Rommel Alonto of the Department of Justice, Clarisse Aquino, legislative staff officer of Sen.

Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, Caroline Lee, program officer of the Hans Seidel Foundation of the Philippines, Quezon Gov. David Suarez, Manuel Jaudian of the Phinma Educational Network and Development Academy of the Philippines President Antonio Kalaw Jr. among others.

Kricke said Philippine policymakers need not “copy and paste” Germany’s formula but must create a system that will perfectly fit the country.

“It is difficult to generalize the experience we have in Germany because we don’t have these scenarios [that you have]. Every country has to make its own decision – what it feels is best and what possible risks and advantages it might involve. But I would say, the feelings of people and citizens…is important,” he added.
Published in News
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Province of Bukidnon will be gathering experts and government partners in synergizing efforts in propagating the roadmap to Federalism through an executive conference this coming 7 February 2017 at Hotel de Susana and Resort, Valencia City, Bukidnon Province.

With the theme, “Creating Synergies towards the Formulation of Federalism Roadmap,” is a call to cooperation in bringing forth all the mayors, vice mayors and provincial DILG. The conference will serve as a venue to discuss important suggestions and thoughts on Constitutional reforms. This collective effort is an initiative spearheaded by Centrist Democrats together with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and the City Government of Valencia to advance and explicate the salient preconditions towards the creation of the future Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Professor Edmund Tayao, Local Government and Development Foundation (LOGODEF) executive director, will be talking about the role of local government in pursuing federalism and the effects on the structures, political dynamics, finance and economic activities. This will greatly aid the audience in understanding the implications of Federalism especially in the economic aspect.

Atty. Raul Lambino, Deputy Secretary General of the PDP-Laban will be discussing the two forms of government system and how one differs fundamentally from the other. It is important to make such distinctions so as to have an extensive understanding of these two forms of government systems.

Mr. Conrado Generoso, core team member and consultant of the DILG Task Team on Federalism, will be prsenting the DILG Roadmap to Federalism, mainly, in the aspects of advocacy, public education and support generation.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder, will be tackling on the salient preconditions in pursuing Federalism and how each is important in the crafting of a real federal Constitution.

Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP), will be discussing the important roles of political parties in the future Federal Republic of the Philippines. Basically, the absence of real political parties will make federalism inutile as traditional patronage system will still prevail.

Atty. Emily O. Padilla, the DILG Underecretary for Legislative Liaison and Special Concerns, and Hon. Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr., governor of the Province of Bukidnon, will be presenting the initiatives of government agencies and updates on the legislative agenda in pursuing Federalism in the Philippines.
Published in News
This is the first of a series of articles the authors (and other collaborators) will be writing on constitutional change. The intent of the series is to influence the process of amending or revising the Constitution that is about to be launched this January.

President Rodrigo Duterte has laid the foundations for this process with the issuance of Executive Order No. 10 last December 7, 2016. The order creates a 25-member Consultative Committee that is tasked to “study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution including but not limited to the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies.” The President is expected to appoint the chairperson and members of the Committee that has a 6-month deadline to submit its recommendation to him. Eventually, their work will be submitted to Congress that is expected to convene as a constituent assembly.

This article is on the implications of federalism, as distinguished from a unitary system, on our legal and judicial systems. It will be followed by articles on the economic provisions, human rights, public accountability, social justice, and on the debate between a parliamentary versus a presidential system of government.

Legal consequences of federalism

Equitable development and genuine, lasting peace. These are among the positive outcomes envisioned and often cited by advocates of a shift from the country’s current unitary system to federalism. Advocates argue that these outcomes will be realized as a result of more power and discretion placed in the hands of the states or "federal regions" (according to one proposal by Congress, the 2008 Joint Resolution No. 10), rather than being concentrated in distant "imperial" Manila. Indeed, a key feature of a federalist set-up is the sharing of sovereignty and jurisdiction between a national/federal/central government and the governments of individual states or regions. Presumably, similar to other federalist jurisdictions, the national government will retain control and authority over defense and foreign affairs, including trade.

Beyond these areas specifically allocated to the central government, the state/regional governments are supposedly granted greater power, discretion, and resources to independently determine the fates of their own units and constituencies. Moreover, the people are theoretically enjoined to greater participation in political life as they are brought closer to their elected leaders, and in turn, the latter are made more accountable to the citizens.

One significant consequence of this sovereignty-sharing arrangement is the likelihood of having discrete legal and judicial systems within the Philippines. In other words, while still sharing the same citizenship and a common set of national or federal officials, Filipinos could be subjected to different laws (and, to a certain extent, moral codes), depending on which state/region they are residing or conducting their activities in. Hence, there is a myriad of questions that need to be asked – and eventually answered – in terms of the changes in the way that people would perceive and interact with the law and with the courts.

The more obvious and certain differences will be readily observed in the statutes relating to fiscal matters and regulatory concerns, since the shift to federalism is precisely rooted in the belief, among others, that the problems of unequal income and development, as well as of social unrest and armed violence, are best resolved by granting the various parts of the country (regions) broader autonomy in their decision-making and making them more "in-control" of their own resources. There is indeed much to be said about this proposition and the possible consequences of having tax rates differential and distinct regulatory policies across the states/regions. This article focuses, however, on the less expected, or at least less discussed, effect of a shift to federalism, namely, the emergence of multiple legal and judicial systems within the country.

Assuming, for purposes of this piece, that the Bill of Rights enshrined in Article III of the 1987 Constitution will subsist in the shift to federalism, there remain a number of possible variations in the civil, criminal, and administrative laws that each state/regional legislature can formulate on its own.

For instance, under a federalist system, the minimum ages (i) for criminal responsibility, (ii) for marriage, and (iii) for access to work may be altered, lowered, or set differently by each of the states/regions. It bears to ask in this regard whether or not the country is prepared to treat each Filipino child differently, and whether or not such resulting disparate treatment would be consistent with Philippine international obligations under relevant treaties, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Relatedly, the requisites for marriage might vary across states/regions, such that same-sex marriage may become allowed in the more "liberal" jurisdictions. Restrictions might likewise be loosened in some states/regions, enabling the legalization of divorce. How these changes in laws/statutes governing persons and family relations would affect the provisions in the present Constitution – treating the family as ‘the foundation of the nation" and marriage as "an inviolable social institution… [to be] protected by the State" – is a question that Congress (acting as a constituent assembly) or members of a constitutional commission have to contend with.

As in other countries that have a federalist system like the United States of America, France, and India, certain activities may be legalized or decriminalized in various parts of the Philippines, but remain to be criminal acts in others. On the upside, in the light of the present lacuna in the law, online harassment can be properly defined and made punishable – perhaps at a faster pace – by some state/regional statutes. This would largely depend on the attitude of the population in a given state/region towards the balance between the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in cyberspace vis-à-vis the perceived governmental duty to protect victims of harassment in any form or medium. In connection to this, some states/regions may finally heed calls made in the past to decriminalize libel and to impose prohibitive monetary fines instead.

Conversely, there is also the possibility of declaring legal in particular states/regions the use of marijuana and other addictive drugs for medical purposes. Indeed, given the greater capacity of different sets of peoples, through their respective governments, to determine what activities are objectionable, and therefore punishable, the country would possibly have to deal as well with the reality that citizens of the Philippines have differing or conflicting opinions and moralities. A grave concern in this regard is whether such realization would affect the people’s sense of national unity, which is said to be a foundation of national security.

The judiciary in a federalist system

Concomitant to these foreseen changes in the statutes and the legal system as a whole, one also ought to ask how these would affect the way that courts work.

Critically, much thought has to be devoted to the reorganization of existing courts, the creation of new ones, and the determination of the hierarchy and relationship amongst them. Should judges in the state/regional courts become elected officials, or should they still be appointed like their peers in the federal/national courts? Can state/regional courts motu proprio refer cases to, or request opinions from, the federal courts, and vice-versa?

Additionally, although not a natural or necessary consequence of the shift to federalism, this might likewise be an opportune moment to deliberate on the pros and cons of establishing a constitutional court in the Philippines. This constitutional court would sit alongside the current Supreme Court, and would adjudicate only on cases involving constitutional questions. The existing Supreme Court may be replaced by or renamed as the Federal Supreme Court, and would continue to act as the court of last resort for all types of cases. The appellate jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court and of the Federal Supreme Court will thus have to be clearly delineated.

In connection to this, there exists a potential agency problem: why should a federal court, which presumably is not directly constituted by the people of a specific state/region, be granted authority to pass upon the proper application and construction of a law crafted by the state/regional legislature that the said people themselves have elected? Relatedly, should a federal court’s interpretation of a state/regional law prevail over the interpretation of a state/regional court? The problem might also be framed in a conflict-of-laws perspective: would it be proper for a federal supreme court, in its appellate jurisdiction, to apply state/regional law, instead of federal law, which is theoretically the only law that the federal court is authorized and competent to interpret?

Federalism and the legal profession

With the creation of distinct state/regional governments, including judiciaries, another critical aspect to consider is the impact of these changes on the legal profession, i.e., the lawyers. With the shift to federalism, will there then be separate bar associations to be formed per state/region? Will existing lawyers authorized to practice law in the entire Philippines be required or compelled to “re-take” the bar examinations in each state/region? To recall, the present Supreme Court has traditionally been the sole entity constitutionally mandated and authorized to regulate the practice of law in the country. With the shift to federalism and the creation of discrete state/regional courts, would it then become acceptable for the supreme courts in each state/region to independently determine the qualifications for admission to the bar, thereby opening up the possibility of having divergent or inconsistent bar admission and ethical rules? In turn, how would these affect legal education in the country? Are the existing law schools adequate in number (per state/region) and sufficiently prepared to train would-be lawyers and to teach the newly-enacted state/regional laws?

A related situation that needs to be addressed is the possibility of having a dearth of lawyers in one state/region and a surplus in another. This can potentially impact on the people’s constitutional right to competent and independent counsel. All of these clearly require careful deliberation, inasmuch as these are quite delicate matters riddled with important constitutional implications. The debates and discussions about whether or not to pursue the shift to federalism should therefore include these issues/questions.

A charter that unites us

As a final note, without refuting or discounting the advantages of adopting a federalist system, one should still ponder the potential harms of such a shift, including an increased divisiveness or a diminished sense of unity among Filipinos, as a result of having distinct/discrete legal and judicial systems to govern their everyday lives. This raises an imperative for crafting a fundamental law, i.e., a constitution, that would continue to highlight, and serve as reminder of, the subsistence of our shared and common experiences and characteristics as one Filipino people, in spite of the admitted existence of particular idiosyncrasies (cultural, religious, political) among the population and which idiosyncrasies are made manifest in the content of laws.

Law, being a potent instrument of social change, as well as a product or expression of human nature and creativity, has a critical role in steering a nation to the people’s desired destination. Accordingly, reforms in the law or laws, not to mention in entire legal and judicial systems, especially those as far-reaching as the ones mentioned in this piece, would most likely bear significant consequences not only on the manner by which government is organized, but more importantly, with respect to the very way that people live their daily lives, perceive their roles within a society and a country, and deal with political, economic, and social institutions that the law has shaped as well.

The policy choice to shift to federalism, if thoroughly studied and prudently executed, will probably bring about significantly positive results, including those that advocates are expecting and rooting for. Foremost of such results must be that many Filipinos would begin to reap benefits that they desire but could previously not enjoy due to, among others, the undue concentration of power and resources to the "center." However, the recognition and accommodation of differences and discretion that lie at the heart of a federalist system should not jeopardize more than a century’s worth of nation-building efforts, which were based on finding sufficient common and shared interests among a people of different views and backgrounds.

The emergence of separate and distinct legal and judicial systems within the country need not necessarily divide Filipinos, but it bears to recognize that such a threat does exist, and it should at least cause one to think though the consequences of shifting to a federalist system, or urge one to explore all possible means to avoid the potential dangers accompanying such shift and to design a federal system that unites and not dviides. –

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Tony La Viña is former dean of the Ateneo School of Government.

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Johanna Aleria P. Lorenzo is a doctoral candidate in Yale Law School, where she also obtained her Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. She currently works on the subjects of international development and global administrative law, and previously served as Legal Specialist for an anti-corruption and good governance project with the Ateneo School of Government and the Department of Finance (DOF).

Published in Commentaries
Thursday, 01 December 2016 21:07

Federalism, Con-ass, and faith


In an earlier commentary (“The federalism project in PH,” 11/9/16), I listed three key points from the institutional design literature that undermine the federalism project and the overall Charter change campaign.

This one, still an extension of my lecture as speaker at the recent Jaime V. Ongpin Annual Memorial Lecture, focuses on the most political of the three: the argument that a constituent assembly (Con-ass) which also functions as a legislative assembly and is riddled by vested interests is a highly risky mode of overhauling a constitution.

Published in Commentaries


WITH about one million new entrants into the Philippine labor pool every year, our economy obviously needs to undergo fundamental restructuring, not just to absorb these new entrants but to offer hope to the tens of millions under- and un-employed Filipino labor force stuck in “endo” jobs, menial work (here and abroad), meaningless and deadend BPO jobs and extremely marginal livelihoods driving tricycles or selling in the streets and worse, blasting fishes or turning the country’s last 3 percentof natural forest into charcoal.

Published in Commentaries


First of two parts

President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit and diplomatic detente to China and his proclamation of a military and economic “separation” from the United States was like a nuclear bomb detonated on a peaceful Friday afternoon.

Published in LML Polettiques
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