‘Federal system is a wonderful legacy for the country’: federalism advocate

A staunch advocate of federalism said establishing a federal system of government is a wonderful legacy to the country.

 “The issue on why is already resolved, we need to focus on how,” said Architect Florencio “Chito” Gavino III, a resource person during the Forum on Federalism held at Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) last October 15 organized by the Master in Public Administration students.

Gavino from Kilos Pederal para sa Pagbabago said the shift to federalism is now “on the go” being worked out by the members of constitutional reform committee in Congress.

The activity provided an opportunity for the MPA students to learn the challenges, impacts and prospects of federalism to public administration practices.

He said shifting to federal system will require revision of the constitution which is likely to be done by the members of House of Representatives and Senate will sit as members of Constituent Assembly (ConAss) as provided by the constitution.

Gavino added that the other option is to elect members of the Constitutional Commission, however the process entails huge budget. “Thus, ConAss is the most practical way,” he explained.

“We sent recommendation to create Consultative Commission whose members will be appointed by the President and they will draft the federal constitution just like the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law),” he related.

The BBL is a proposed legislation crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and was submitted to Congress for its passage.

Passage of the BBL by Philippine Congress is one of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed by the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Once passed into law and ratified through a plebiscite, the BBL will lay down the foundation to establish and autonomous Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“It is an historic undertaking we need to perpetuate,” he stressed. “The elites and oligarchs are expected to oppose it,” the speaker warned.

Gavino said shifting to federal system is not an easy task for it shall require a three-year transition period.

He underscored the essence of federal government where there is distribution of power to the federal states unlike in the current unitary system the power is concentrated in the national government.

“If you belong to a political party opposition to the administration party, you will have difficulty to release fund from the national government,” Gavino cited.

“There are propositions to create 11, 12, 9, and 7 states, but we push for 5 states,” he said.

On the question if the BBL will be considered in the new constitution, Gavino said there is an enabling law being pushed under the Duterte administration.

“The government should deliver the BBL since it is in the peace agreement,” he said.

The enabling law will be crafted by the BTC with 21 Commissioners that will be appointed by President Duterte. The Commission will include representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front, Indigenous Peoples and Sultanate.

Other topics discussed were Federalism on Organizational Development, Federalism on Public Policy Development and Federalism on Voluntary Sector Management.