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Friday, July 19, 2019
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Malilong: Being shotgunned into Federalism

The Other Side

SERIOUSLY? Nur Misuari threatened war if we do not shift to a federal form of government?

But with whom? Col. Noel Detoyato, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, is asking. “Who is his enemy? Let’s ask him first who his enemy is.”

It is a rhetorical question, consistent with the dismissive tone of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who described the supposed threat as a “bluff.” It’s almost like them saying, “Bring it on, you warred with us before and we routed you.”

Of course, nobody wants war. Even the former chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, Muslimin Sema, warned, according to an Inquirer report, that “war is not child’s play.”

But here’s the sadder part, courtesy of House Deputy Majority Leader Rodante Marcoleta, who, presumably speaking for his fellow congressmen, disclaimed any responsibility if Misuari’s threatened war does break out. “We’ve done our part,” Marcoleta solemnly declared, their “part” being the hasty, almost surreptitious, passage of a draft constitution that they forwarded to the Senate.

So this is what we have: a president who is a staunch advocate of federalism, a rebel leader who so strongly supports the President’s advocacy that he would not hesitate to take up arms if it is not approved and a House of Congress practically telling the rebel leader it’s all right to wage war over your disappointment, just don’t blame us.

Don’t we have here a case similar to that of a groom being “shotgunned” into marriage?

Isn’t it a better idea to explain to the people what federalism is and how it is supposed to work instead of applying duress to rush them into embracing the idea? The trouble is that even those who are at the vanguard of the federalism movement cannot seem to agree on the concept. Nowhere is this more evident than in the complete disregard by the lower house of the proposals submitted by President Duterte’s consultative committee, replacing them with the congressmen’s own version.

The House leadership is resentful of the Senate’s attitude towards their masterpiece. They had planned on their draft constitution being submitted to the people in a plebiscite to be held simultaneously with the May elections. But the senators refused to be shepherded and, lacking time to thoroughly examine its provisions, killed the congressmen’s plan.

In this light, Marcoleta’s Pontius Pilate act is understandable. Blame the Senate instead, that’s what he wants to say. We can’t even get them to cooperate with us on our budget insertions.

We cannot thank the senators enough for playing spoilers. As I have repeatedly said, we should be told exactly what we are going into before they ask for our consent. We cannot vote yes to federalism on the basis of motherhood statements like “it would free us from imperial Manila.” As the Manilans would say, kumita na ‘yan. The devil is in the details. Show us its horns.


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