WHILE admitting that federalism will not cure all the country’s problems, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said it will likely address lingering problems rooted in the country’s cultural diversity.
Speaking in yesterday’s “Federalizing the Philippines” forum hosted by the Senate Economic Planning Office, Pimentel acknowledged that federalism is not a perfect system but the public will be duly informed of its advantages and disadvantages.
“I am more concerned by the [survey] result that 73 percent of respondents have no or almost no knowledge of the Constitution. PDP-Laban believes in consultative democracy, and every Filipino must have their say armed with the proper information on which to base their decision,” said Pimentel.
“My party will intensify its information campaign on federalism and the Constitution to allow our people to make an informed choice on the matter of constitutional change,” he added.
Pimentel also said that Filipinos can create its own system of federal government unique to other countries. He said they can have their own unique system of federal government by getting the best practices of different nations.
“Just like the French who created their own system for themselves, Filipinos can also create a uniquely Filipino system for the Phillipines, not similar to any other in the world,” he said.
“I propose that we adopt the best features of the governments in Europe, North America, Australia, and even Malaysia and adapt them to our needs. We should not also close your eyes to the newly emerging federations in South America and Africa,” he added.
He said the experiences of other governments will be a big help in crafting a federal government responsive to the needs of Filipinos.
He said it is time to recognize the Filipino identity as a ‘diversity of identities’ and not one single monolithic artificial construct as the recognition of differences make communities prepared to embrace a common identity with others.
He also said federalism is not the only step after devolution but it is the next logical step if the Philippines chooses to decentralize.
The Senate leader said federalism’s complex nature demands careful study as scholars contend that there is not one model in the world that fits all.
“Each country must discern its own version of federalism according to peculiar conditions of their societies. Therefore, it is important to learn from the experiences—whether good or bad— of existing federations,” he said.