3K federalism supporters push for change in W. Visayas forum

By Cindy Ferrer

November 23, 2018, 9:10 pm

<p><strong>FEDERALISM FORUM.</strong> Some 3,000 people coming from various parts of Western Visayas join the Regional Convention on Federalism held at the Iloilo Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. <em> (Photo from Pederalismo FB page)</em></p>

FEDERALISM FORUM. Some 3,000 people coming from various parts of Western Visayas join the Regional Convention on Federalism held at the Iloilo Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018.  (Photo from Pederalismo FB page)

ILOILO CITY -- Some 3,000 federalism supporters from Western Visayas gathered at the Iloilo Convention Center Thursday afternoon for the Regional Convention on Federalism to continue pushing for the proposed change from the current unitary form of government.

The attendees were mostly members of civil society organizations, among them the Philippine Advocates for Federalism, Duterte Volunteers for Change, National Alliance Movement for Federalism, Save our Languages through the Federalism Foundation, Inc., Hukbong Federal: The Sincere Warriors of Duterte, and Pederalismo para sa Pagbabago.

Representatives of partner government agencies and local government units also joined the forum.

The convention was the highlight of the two-day Federalism Roadshow in Western Visayas, which was spearheaded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In his speech, Prof. Edmund Tayao, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) to Review the 1987 Constitution, stressed that federalism will provide the capacity for the regional government to decide what they want to happen in their regions.

“It will provide them juridical entity and political power,” he said.

According to Tayao, the current unitary form of government only allows the regions to talk about their priorities and recommend them to the national government.

“If the national government will not adopt that, you are not allowed to implement them,” he said.

Tayao said the federal form of government will unlock the power of the regions to create their plans and implement them for the betterment of their areas.

With the upcoming 2019 elections, Tayao encouraged the participants to vote for political aspirants supportive of the proposed shift to a federal government.

“Choose your allies who know what you feel, what you need and your desire to change the system so that you will feel your own government and not their government,” he said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ferdinand Bocobo, also a member of ConCom, noted that they have expanded the bill of rights in their proposed Constitution, including socio-economic and environmental rights.

“Socio-economic rights provide every Filipino the right to adequate food, complete quality education, decent housing, universal and comprehensive health care, and livelihood and employment opportunities,” he said.

On the other hand, environmental rights will provide the public the right to have clean air, clean water and clean surroundings, he added.

“We are now entitled to damages to our environment. We can file charges against individuals or corporations who degrade our environment,” Bocobo said.

He further mentioned the political reform that the federal form of government would bring into the country as the proposed Constitution has a provision on anti-political dynasty.

After many years of the unitary system, Bocobo stressed the need to “level the political playing field” in the country.

To raise the knowledge of the participants on the proposed Constitution, Prof. Alfredo Sureta Jr. of the Federalism Institute, presented the salient features of the draft of the Federal Constitution, which featured, among others, the national territory of federated regions, as well as their structure; fiscal powers and financial administration; distribution of government powers; and constitutional commissions.

The DILG is set to bring the Federal Roadshow to other regions in the country. (PNA)