Monday, May 20, 2019

Tell it to SunStar: Mocha’s debacle and federalism

WHEN the Duterte government launched in full blast its information campaign to convince the people to support the proposed shift to a federal system, a pet project of the current government along with the “war on drugs,” it was immediately torpedoed by Mocha Uson, assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO).

Uson uploaded a video showing her co-host Drew Olivar dancing to the supposed jingle on federalism that repeated the first two syllables of the Tagalog word “pederalismo.” The resulting terms, “pepe” and “dede,” refer to the woman’s reproductive organ.

What Uson and Olivar did was actually part of years-long failed strategy of many federalist advocates in educating the people on the matter, or should we say in marketing the idea of federalism to the grassroots. Most of these federalism advocates want to have their own federalist proposals or agenda fulfilled within their lifetime without considering the short-term or medium-term effects of the transition process and the ambition of politician themselves who are using “Imperial Manila” as bogeyman.

To get what they consider as support from the people, especially through social media, many of these advocates are issuing a series of baseless claims and black propaganda against the national government based in Manila or against some fringe extremists. They also blame the Tagalogs for supposedly inflicting economic and political woes on other regions particularly on Mindanao.

These advocates cannot even situate themselves in an impartial academic or political discussion without resorting to ad hominem or straw man fallacies because they know that they cannot convince the people from the academe and some politicians to join them without resorting to these tactics.

For years, I advocated for a shift to a federal system along with economic liberalization, shift to parliamentary system and restoration of Spanish as an official language through constitutional revision but I am not that naïve to think that any of these changes can be positively achieved within the short-term. My stand is unlike many federalist advocates like former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

If we seriously want to shift from unitary to federal system, then we need to pursue it first through our unitary framework by amending the Local Government Code of 1991 or pursuing further the devolution of national government functions by amending Article XX of the 1987 Constitution.

The shift to a federal system for now is even a misplaced constitutional reform agenda, as our situation needs more economic consolidation through wealth generation and wealth generation can only be possible by removing all kinds of restrictions on foreign equity participation in our economy and striking down the 60 percent Filipino equity requirement for businesses in the 1987 Constitution.--Joseph Solis Alcayde


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