Dureza: Federalism a means to correct injustices against Bangsamoro, IPs

Written by VERONICA PULUMBARIT, GMA News.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said federalism may be an instrument to correct the "wrongdoings" committed by the government against the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples.

OPAPP Undersecretary Jose Lorena delivering the message of Presidential Adviser Dureza during the Federalism Forum in Makati City.

"In fact, and as you have already know, the constitutional change to create a federal form of government has been an integral component of the Bangsamoro roadmap under his administration’s six-point peace and development agenda," Dureza said in a statement read in a forum on federalism in Makati on Wednesday.

The statement, read by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Jose Lorena, said the constitutional reforms ran side-by-side with the peace agreements that previous administrations had entered with the Moro fronts and other Bangsamoro stakeholders.

"With this already in the pipeline, the proposed Bangsamoro entity can be envisioned as our pilot case study of the workings of a federal state government," Dureza said.

"As an offshoot thereto, federalism may correct the previous wrongdoings committed against Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and a myriad of indigenous communities in the Philippines," he added.

Dureza said federalism could be "a just and lasting redress for the powerless, dispossessed, and disenfranchised brought by the forceful submission of foreign powers and majority culture."

"It brings out the best of our ideals by democratizing the mechanism to allow more people’s engagement in governance," Dureza said.

The Duterte administration has been pushing for a shift from a unitary  to a federal system of government that has a central government and a number of federal states.

This shift requires a change in the Philippine Constitution as it presently mandates a unitary form of government.

Dureza warned that efforts to change the system of government will be useless if Filipinos will remain divided due to cultural, economic, and political backgrounds.

In shifting to a federal form of government, Dureza said the big question is not "why" the change must be adopted but "how" to integrate the different values of all Filipinos and how to make federalism work.

"Why we need to shift to federalism is neither the most important nor most challenging part," Dureza said.

"[This] will always be how to read and integrate our people’s attitudes and values ...and how to make it work so that it will be a true instrument of nation-building," he added.

He said that the shift to federalism must acknowledge the regional differences among Filipinos.

"We are Filipinos but we are also Ilocanos, Dabawenos, Bikolanos, Cebuanos, Bangsamoro and so forth," Dureza said.

"We must afford each other the democratic space and freedom to be Tagalogs, Ilonggos, Bisayas, Tausugs, all the beautiful, separate, but equal composites of this archipelago," he added.

The Philippines has two autonomous regions: the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in Northern Luzon and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the southern part of the country.

Dureza said, "Our 1987 Philippine Constitution afforded these groups the creation of two autonomous regions — one in Cordillera and another in Muslim Mindanao."

"Despite criticism and despite the shortcomings of these autonomous or regional governments, they paved the way for a true discernment and dialogue on federalism," he said.

Dureza said regional differences among Filipinos should not be a hindrance in building a stronger nation.

"Regionalism is not an obstacle but an indispensable element in the path towards nation-building. What we sow and yield in the countryside, in the localities, contributes to our common aspiration as Filipinos, as a nation of communities," Dureza said.

"This is the basic ideal of federalism that we want our people to imbibe: putting together the hard work of our people, whatever their cultural, economic and political background," he added. —NB, GMA News

Source: GMA News