Conversation: Dream. Response. Commitment.
Response. Commitment. AdZU president Fr. Karel San Juan, SJ, succintly
summarized Part 2 of Are You FED? A
Conversation on the Key Issues on Federalism, Philippine Style, held last
March 13, 2018 at the Carlos Dominquez Conference Hall, Salvador campus of
Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU).
San Juan explained that to Dream means to continue to dream for Peace based on
justice and development in Mindanao; Response, on the other hand, he said,
should be good governance, with check and balance, transparency,
accountability, openness to criticism in contrast to monopolism and
authoritarianism; and Commitment to continue the discussion, to study more and
continue to hope. “Federalism as a concept is not bad. But knowing that there
are anti-poor and self-serving provisions in the proposals is worrisome and
scary,” Fr San Juan stated. “Nevertheless we continue to hope for what’s good
for the country,” he added.
forum, hosted by the Social Development Council through its Center for
Leadership and Governance (ACLG), sought to update, broaden and deepen
understanding about Federalism, in order to formulate better views and actions
on the issue.
during FED 2 were Atty. Neri Colmenares, a veteran human rights lawyer and
lawmaker, and Dr. Ronald Mendoza, Dean of Ateneo de Manila School of Governance
as resource speakers.
Colmenares presented the three proposals on federalism lodged in Congress: the Resolution
of Both Houses No. 8, the PDP Laban proposal and the Draft Constitution by the
House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments. He cited that
the proposal from the Lower House Committee reportedly contains dubious
provisions that do not have anything to do with federalism such as dismantling
the protectionist economic provisions in the current Constitution. Furthermore,
he said that the proposal dilute human rights and social justice policies in
the Constitution, constitutionalize self-serving agenda of politicians such as
pork barrel, and centralize formidable powers in President Duterte.
Mendoza, on the other hand, presented a study on “Political Economy of
Federalism: insights from data on Guns, Goons and Gold”. He said that bad
governance outdid the good intention in the local government code of 1991 which
could have been the foundation of federalism in the country. He explained that devolution
created in the localities mini dictators in the form of a dynasty. “If
federalism is to succeed,” according to Dr. Mendoza, “it will need to address
these challenges and create more effective mechanisms to help new federal
jurisdictions and sub-jurisdictions transition towards better governance and
stronger development outcomes.”
of a panel shared their insights on Federalism and the forum. Ateneo professor Hezekiah
Concepcion attested that the problems in Mindanao are issues of poor governance
and the proliferation of political dynasty. Speaking on behalf of the business
sector, panelist Edwin To emphasized the importance of conducting conversations,
and noted that despite the salient points of real federalism, in the end, it is
the personality behind the structure that really matters.
the open forum, Prof. Ryan Tangalin of Western Mindanao State University reiterated
the importance of the conversation, stating the need for more of such forum for
it does not only show the good side, “but the bad side as well” and that the
discussion also dissects the issue that shows the underlying issues.
Mayo Enriquez, Assistant to the President on Social Development, welcomed the 153
participants composed mostly of faculty and student leaders from AdZU, WMSU,
Zamboanga State College Marine Science and Technology, Southern City Colleges,
STI Zamboanga, Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College, and Claret School of
Zamboanga. Also in attendance were representatives from various sectors, including
security, business, LGUs, NGOs and the media.
1, the first part of the Conversation on Federalism was held February 23, 2017.
Attended by youth leaders from different universities and colleges in the city,
the forum sought to inform and raise awareness among young leaders on Federalism.
Present were Department of Interior and Local Government City Director Moh Taha
Arakama, Edwin To from the business sector, and AdZU faculty Brian Bango, gave
their side and understanding on the matter.