Shots fired


It was a gruesome week for Philippine sports and politics.

A basketball game turned into a wrestling match. Everything was caught on camera and seen all over the world. The videos could be seen from multiple angles, some taken using camera phones. Within minutes, sports pundits weighed in on the brawl, forgetting the match. Some thought it was embarrassing while others defended the players’ actions.

Popular foreign basketball players tweeted their disgust. Filipino sports fans talked less about Lebron James joining the Lakers and more about the actions of our Gilas players. One thing was for sure – the Internet was fired up.

A mayor was shot dead in broad daylight while singing our National Anthem. This was also caught on camera from multiple angles but the sniper was nowhere to be found. Within minutes, critics were quick to blame authorities due to the victim’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs. An unedited video footage of the killing surfaced online, garnering millions of views.

A second mayor was shot dead in broad daylight while inside his vehicle. Although the videos were not depictive of the incident, CCTV footage gave us a glimpse of the attack.

Within minutes, commentators related this to the earlier murder, but critics were stumped as the victim was from the same political party of the President. Local authorities theorized politics in Nueva Ecija was behind the killing or the slain mayor’s alleged involvement in bagging government contracts. The Internet scorched.

Heated discussions led to intense finger-pointing. In the Gilas brawl, the Australians, led by assistant coach and former Chicago Bulls star, Luc Longley, blame Coach Chot Reyes for instigating the Filipino players, as evidenced by a video taken during an earlier time out.

On the killings, opposition solons and critics blame President Duterte for inspiring disrespect for the rule of law through his protection of law enforcers who kill people involved in illegal drugs.

The aforementioned incidents prove Filipinos are brazen individuals. Perhaps the “puso” mantra of our athletes is so contagious and infectious even hired killers have adopted this gung-ho attitude, now more than ever. Will another mayor be gunned down? Most likely, as can be seen with the troubled League of Municipalities of the Philippines that is now seeking an audience with the President.

Quietly working behind the scenes is a group of learned and brilliant Filipinos, who finalized a document that would affect all Filipinos, those in Philippine sports and politics included.

On Tuesday, July 3, the Consultative Committee approved the draft Constitution that it was tasked to do. The draft Constitution proposes a shift to federalism – a change that is so immense and drastic, and a campaign promise of the President that is yet to be delivered.

The draft Constitution will now be submitted to Congress for its approval.

What does federalism promise? The Filipino people seem to be in the dark. Recent surveys conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia showed remarkably low awareness of federalism, despite the assurances made by the President who consistently rides on high approval and trust ratings. This shows the information drive on federalism must be done not just by those in Malacañang but by local leaders in the provinces, the areas that stand to benefit the most in this shift.

House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Rep. Roger Mercado is certainly doing his part and is busy with his own federalism roadshow. On the same day the draft Constitution was approved, Rep. Mercado conducted a federalism summit called “Tourism, Environment and Agriculture Summit: Our Vision for Progress,” in Maasin City, Leyte, attended by several government officials, including Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
During the summit, officials from the Department of Tourism (DoT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Agriculture (DA) explained how the country would benefit from the federal set-up. Secretary Tugade presented the important role of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in the development of the country’s provinces. The event was attended by scores of people in Maasin City.

In the House of Representatives, the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) held an event on June 28, with the theme “Constitutional Design and the Promotion of Economic Competitiveness,” which featured several local and foreign experts as guest speakers, including Dr. Tom Ginsburg, International Law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, Dr. Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo School of Government and former senior economist at the United Nations, and Deputy Secretary General of the CPBRD, Dr. Romulo Emmanuel Miral, Jr.

More federalism events are scheduled to be held in the future, and Filipinos are enjoined to attend. In this administration, change is at all times imminent, and it is best for us to know what is in store for us. Although less enticing yet far more significant than a basketbrawl, I hope federalism, or more particularly, the process of its passage, would be given more attention by the Filipinos.

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