BARMM a ‘test case’ for proposed shift to federalism, say experts

BARMM a ‘test case’ for proposed shift to federalism, say experts Featured

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) could be a test case to determine if the shift to federal form of government will work in the the Philippines, three resource persons at the hearing of the Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee said Friday.

Lawyer Benedicto Bacani, executive director of Institute of Autonomy and Governance, suggested looking at the "low-hanging fruits" which could serve as reference for the country's gradual shift to federalism.

Bacani said the BARMM could be a "model" of a federal state so the Filipinos could understand the concept of having a "second-tier level of government."

"Kaya ang amin dito, tinitingnan namin ang Bangsamoro at Cordillera, 'yun ho ang low hanging fruit toward the march to a federal system later," Bacani said.

Although Cordillera Administrative Region is also considered as an autonomous region, he explained BARMM could be a better model as the constituents there are seeking sovereignty as compared to CAR which mostly seeks protection to their cultural heritage.

According to Bacani, the Constitution must be clear in terms of autonomous regions' delineation of powers as there are some aspects where the power is exclusive to the Bangsamoro government, some are exclusive to the national government and in some instances, the power is shared both by the Bangsamoro and the national government.

"Dapat maliwanag talaga ano ang power ng national at exclusive powers ng region na dapat exclusive yon na sa kanila talaga manggaling. Right now, there is no such thing as exclusive power because they are all subject to national [laws]," Bacani said.

After studying this, Bacani said the national government could consider allowing other regions to seek their own autonomy, like the case of Cebu, so they can craft their own organic laws.

He also recommended the inclusion of the Mandanas ruling in the Constitution for clearer interpretation of the jurisprudence.

The so-called Mandanas ruling expands the local government units' internal revenue allotment share to all national taxes including those collected by the Bureau of Customs.

The Supreme Court ruling favoring increased share of taxes for LGUs stemmed from the petition filed by then Batangas Representative Hermilando Mandanas.

"Alam niyo naman po masyadong controversial ang charter change and for us, that could be done through Constituent Assembly then eventually po siguro mag-Constitutional Convention talaga towards a shift to federal Philippines," Bacani said.

Lawyer Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, agreed to the proposal, saying the government should test how the BARMM will develop if it was given full powers for their autonomy.

"Ang sabi namin kulang 'yung binigay na powers dun sa Bangsamoro that is within the Constitution and it's good that this was brought up because I think we should test it," Monsod said.

"Yung powers that were not given, let us give it to Bangsamoro and then it could be a very good test case whether it will work or not, because we want it to work," he added.

"We're talking about a special case here. Let's give the Bangsamoro the powers they wanted and were not given to them and see and make it a test case for federalism," he continued.

Professor Eric de Torres, another resource person, agreed that BARMM could be a good model for federalism even though he said that there might be challenges in the transition to a federal form of government particularly in the capacity building of the LGUs.

"Kung ganon po yung gagawin, kailangan natin ng mahabang transition at pag-gabay sa BARMM at yung ibang special bodies po natin," he said.

"It will be a good test case for federalism and also the Mandanas ruling... these are low-lying fruits, these are probably and possibly the pre-conditions towards gearing full federalism," he added.

Senator Robin Padilla, chairman of the panel, said in jest that they can terminate the proceedings as the resource persons have agreed to this proposal.

But before ending the deliberations on the topic, Monsod pointed out that the passage of a law for federalism should take a backseat as there are many measures that should be tested first before introducing provisions of federalism in the 1987 Constitution.

"That's precisely what we're saying. Why pass a federal law now? There are many things that we can find out in the Bangsamoro, the Public Service Act law, and so on. [Let's] see how they work so we will know where is the best way and how to handle it then let's talk about a federal change in the constitutional structure," Monsod said.—LDF, GMA News

Read 576 times Last modified on Monday, 28 November 2022 10:54
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