Tell it to SunStar: Federalism not the solution

WE firmly oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s Charter change (Cha-cha). We reject his rhetoric of federalism as the solution to social inequities and unrest. Duterte’s chacha is nothing but a total sell-out to our national patrimony and sovereignty as a nation and for us, national minorities – both the Moro and indigenous peoples- the diminution of our collective right to self-determination.

Duterte’s Cha-cha is anti-Filipino people and anti-national minorities as it:

1. Opens up Philippine lands and territory to 100 percent foreign ownership and unbridled exploitation of natural resources. The 1987 Philippine Constitution supposedly safeguards the country’s land and resources from foreign control, yet big foreign entities collaborate with oligarchs, bureaucrats and politicians and are able to circumvent these protections.

Now, Duterte’s Cha-cha removes all barriers for the foreign ownership and brazen exploitation of land and resources. Whatever will remain as token recognition of our collective rights as national minorities will be rendered insignificant.

2. Will no longer recognize the indigenous customary laws to determine our land and territories. This allows the state to fully control our territories and sacrifice us in the “altar of national interest.”

This will mean more incursions into our lands by big foreign and local business interests. This will also remove the right of the Moro and Cordillera peoples to autonomy as an expression of self-determination enshrined in the current constitution.

Worse, this will wreak havoc on the unity among tribes especially in disputed territories. Disputes that have been resolved peacefully will be unearthed by interested parties under the federal system thus will bring discord among tribes.

Even the creation of federal states will bring about division and disputes not only among national minorities but even among regions.

3. Will strengthen existing political dynasties. The Federal system, where political power is to be decentralized to different regions will only benefit existing political dynasties. Those who are already marginalized – like us the national minorities, will stay powerless and voiceless.

Proposals dangled like a Bangsamoro federal state, Cordillera federal state or indigenous peoples sub-states will only replicate the failure of the ARMM or the Cordillera Administrative Region where “autonomy” is only meant for political dynasties and warlords while the rest remain in poverty, discriminated and neglected by its own local government.

4. Will make a dictator out of the president. While building a new federal system, the president and his political allies will extend their terms to nine years more. During this period, the president effectively controls the three branches of government.

President Duterte’s Charter change does not address the roots of poverty and social unrest. It clearly only favors him, his political allies, and their imperialist benefactors.--Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination
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