IT SEEMS there’s no stopping efforts at charter change this year: both House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III tagged as the respective top priority of both chambers in 2018 the revision of the constitution for a shift to a federal form of government.
The preferred method of President Rodrigo Duterte and the ruling party, Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino, is to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to prepare a draft federal constitution.
The move is sure to stir up fierce debates. Among the issues expected to take center stage is the necessity of changing the 1987 charter, whether Con-Ass is the better mode over Constitutional Convention (ConCon) and the root issue of whether a federal form of government is suitable for the Philippines.
No constitution is perfect, and that includes the 1987 constitution. As such, there is always room for improvement.
Likewise, there is wisdom in the position of the administration. Election of delegates to a Con-Con is estimated to cost around P7 billion, which could be better utilized for needed social services. Besides, incumbent legislators are elected directly by the people and thus have the mandate to voice the position of their respective constituents.
As to a shift to a federal form of government, the administration has the mandate to pursue this since Pres. Duterte ran and won, among other, on his advocacy for federalism. There are also ample evidence that federalism is suited for a nation with diverse culture, language, and religious beliefs, such as Malaysia.
One of the strongest arguments for federalism is that it would address the decades-long resentment, particularly in Mindanao, over “Imperial Manila” that is exacerbated by a unitary and centralized form of government.
These are just a few of the arguments in favor of federalism. Surely, there are equally persuasive arguments against it.
What is more important is that we approach the issue with reason, and not inflame it with blind passion. There are tell-tale signs that some sectors are already trying to inflame the situation by diverting the public’s attention to other issues such as no election and alleged agenda for term extension.
It would do us no good. Instead, let us discuss rationally act like a decent human being. Not like a jack ass.