The Western Mindanao State University, through the Political Science Department and the Department of Interior and Local Government initiated a multi-sectoral forum on Federalism last December 2, 2016 at the WMSU Social Hall.
Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration is advocating for a constitutional change to adopt a new political landscape in the country, which is Federalism, and as an academic institution, WMSU sees its role in the information dissemination to all societal stakeholders in this part of the region.
Asec. Epimaco V. Densing III, Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs of the Department of Interior and Local Governmnet (DILG), Prof. Hezekiah Concepcion of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, and Prof. Edgar Araojo, Political Science faculty of WMSU served as the keynote speakers during the whole day event. Also present were DILG Regional Director Paizal Abutazil and DILG City Director Moh. Taha Arakama.
The forum was attended by WMSU officials and faculty; faculty members and representatives from other academic institutions; Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); Indigenous People (IPs); non-government and civil society organizations; various line agencies of the government; religious sectors; media, and business sector.
The keynote speakers shared their thoughts on the theme “Philippines in a Federal System: A New Political Landscape” and enlightened the public on the benefits, opportunities and thrusts of the federalism type of government. They envisioned that federalism will bring economic development in the region and in Mindanao.
Asec. Densing explained that in a federal system of government, there will be decentralization and distribution of government powers- political and economic- to regional and local governments throughout the nation. “Under the federal system, the shares of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays will be bigger than what is currently provided for under the Local Government Code,” he said. Federalism will allow the local states to have more power over funds and resources thus allowing them to retain more of their income and channel these funds towards their own development,” he added.
He explained that in a federal system, each state or region has its own discretion in managing its economy, natural resources, and law, thus greater independence would allow them to provide more appropriate solutions to their problems.
He also elaborated that in a federal system, “all local leaders, including those part of political dynasties, become more accountable to their constitutents”. Federalism also encourages competition among local states. It will motivate leaders and its constituents to level up in terms of quality of life, economic development, progressive policies, and governance.
Prof. Hezekiah Concepcion gave a discussion on “US Federalism: A Framework for the Philippines”, wherein he explained some of the most important features of federalism using the United States of America Federalism as a model. “Each state, which has its own competitive advantages, would be able to develop and improve their strengths in a federal form of government,” Prof. Concepcion said.
On the other hand, Prof. Edgar Araojo further discussed “The Future of Mindanao in a Federal System”. He added that “a federal system can address the concerns of separatists who crave more autonomy over the administration of Muslim Mindanao”. According to Prof. Araojo, federalism will also be the key to finally achieve peace in war-torn Mindanao.
An open forum was also held to allow the stakeholders to ask questions, and to provide inouts and feedbacks on the proposed ‘change’ in the government system for policy recommendation.
This multi-sectoral forum is preliminary to the future partnerships between WMSU and DILG on information dissemination on federalism. A different forum was also held last September 1, 2016 and was attended by students and faculty of different academic institutions in the city. (Liezel M. Parreño, WMSU-PAO)