Takeaways on Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism update.ph

Takeaways on Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism Featured

PAUL Hutchcroft, a scholar specializing in comparative and Southeast Asian politics, asked whether rather than symmetrical federalism across the country, the focus should instead be on asymmetrical arrangements that address injustices that hinder specific communities from achieving their full potentials.

While federalism is already part of ongoing discussions in the Philippine public arena, nevertheless, George R. M Anderson, formerly of the Forum of Federations Canada, believed that how the conversations would be framed is strategic.

Federalism is very diverse and Filipinos need not be hung up on one model. Admittedly, the slack in the discussion today is partly because government has not yet put forward the model for deliberation by Filipinos.

Since it will be up to us to decide, we can exercise more latitude by defining what problems the Filipino brand of federalism should address.

Amina Rasul of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy raised the query "if federalism is the answer, what is the question?" This was echoed by Hutchcroft who also asked about the basic problems needing to be solved.

Constitution expert lawyer Christian Monsod argued that the country’s key problems can be addressed without federalism. Monsod said that the underperformance in vital asset reforms (agrarian reform, urban land reform and housing, ancestral domains, and fisheries reform) are mainly due to factors that do not require fundamental reorientation of the political system.

Patronage politics, oligarchic rule, and regional inequities have also been discussed in many fora as among the political ills of our country, and used as arguments for federalism. Echoing one of the resource persons, ought not other measures that also effectively address the problems need to be explored further first before committing the country to system overhaul of the kind exemplified by federalism?

Conditions of success was also a running theme in the GAGF 2016.

Anderson contributed two social conditions: respect for rule of law, and a sense of nested identities (e.g. people are comfortable with having a regional or ethnic identity, and also a national one). The successful transition to federalism also required the build-up of capacity, particularly administrative, political and fiscal.

Lito Lorenzana of the Centrist Democratic Party Philippines had four preconditions: 1) political party reforms including the banning of turncoatism; 2) passage of an anti-dynasty law, 3) and a freedom of information law; 4) and electoral reforms. All four, which in his vie would be achieved under the Duterte administration, have to be pursued simultaneously.

The experiences of countries that tried different devolved and decentralized arrangements suggested the possibility of a staged approach rather than a sudden shift in political institutions, with the rate of transfer varying depending on conditions.

One of the resource persons asserted that obtaining peoples’ consent is vital. Instead of a rushed move towards a Philippine Constitutional Assembly, more initiatives have to be made towards securing Filipino agreement. Consent in this case needs to be freely given without coercion or deceit, prior to any undertakings, and on the basis of informed decision-making about problems that Filipinos deem need to be addressed.

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Read more: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/opinion/2016/12/16/maglana-takeaways-autonomy-governance-and-federalism-last-2-parts-515541

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