Written by Province of Sulu Communications Team.

The Sulu Provincial Government in partnership with Sulu State College Faculty Association and Institute for Autonomy and Governance held a Forum on Federalism, Autonomy and Mindanao and Sulu Peace Process at Sumadja Hall, Sulu Area Coordinating Center (SACC) , Brgy. Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu. \

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Hon. Abdusakur Tan delivering the Sulu's Perspective on Federalism, Autonomy, and Mindanao and Sulu Peace Process last 06 Dec 2016. Photo from: Province of Sulu Facebook Page

Acting Governor Nurunisah A. Tan, in her welcome remarks, made reference to the initiative of the Duterte Administration to change our system of government into a federal form (federalism), hence, acting Gov. Tan sees it very important that proper information about federalism be brought to the fore and that the people are involved in the process.

"Changes are indeed coming and we should not be caught ill-prepared or I'll-informed. In a democratic atmosphere, the voices of all sectors should be heard. We hope today we can be accorded opportunities to exchange ideas that will be enlightening and productive.", Acting Gov. Tan, remarked.

Federalism as defined in legal terms is A principle of government that defines the relationship between the central government at the national level and its constituent units at the regional, state, or local levels. Under this principle of government,power and authority is allocated between the national and local governmental units, such that each unit is delegated a sphere of power and authority only it can exercise, while other powers must be shared.

"Pag-aralan natin para mabuo ang tamang solusyon. What will be the implication of federalism in Sulu? Is there inclusivity in federalism? We must see through these political developments. Institute for Autonomy and Governance Executive Director, Atty. Benedicto R. Bacani, suggests in sharing his rationale and objectives of the forum.

Deans, Professors of of State and private Colleges and Universities, Civil Society Groups (CSO), heads of line agencies, provincial and local officials were among the invited participants of the forum.

The Royal Council of the Sulu Sultanate Designated Special Envoy and Conferree of the rank of honorary Datu, Former Sulu Governor and Vice Governor Datu Shahbandar Abdusakur M. Tan, shared his insights on the Fundamental flaws of the Autonomous Region, the prospects of federalism, his vision for Sulu, during his talk on the "Sulu Perspective". Some Excerpts of his speech (see attached complete speech)

"When we are asked to choose between autonomy and federalism, our choice is clear. We do not want an autonomy that is like the one personified by the present ARMM. For us here in Sulu it’s simply anything but.

In the matter of peace and security in Mindanao and Sulu which now hinges on the Peace Process and Federalism, we do admit that the so-called peace roadmap is in for bumps and humps."

"Federalism is novel to the Philippines and it is understandable if it may appear frightening to some, changes usually are. Let us leave this matter to the wisdom of the national leadership but let us not be curtailed nor hampered in presenting ground opinions for consideration and due study.

We should take a cue from the history of the Afro-Americans who fought for their equal rights and civil liberties and take lessons from the fate that befell the American Indians and the Australian aborigines. No one ever imagined that one day a colored American will be a President of America, simply because they repudiated the special treatment offered to them then or what was termed then as affirmative action, but instead demanded and fought for equal rights and equal opportunities just like the mainstream or majority white. Look at them now!."

"In pondering the creation of Federal States, we believe that it would be erroneous to cluster Muslim areas into a single state. That would merely be a name change from ARMM to something else. The traditional Muslim areas now fenced within ARMM must break loose from the mindset of being a minority but should instead opt to being clustered together with more affluent territories, even if they are non-Muslims, in a federal make-up."

Another resource person, OPAPP Consultant, Atty. Jose Lorena, author of The Mindanao and Sulu Peace Road Map - government's approach in the achievement of lasting Peace in Mindanao and Sulu. Lorena reported on the current state of Peace Talks with rebel groups, Communists Party - New Peoples Army, MILF, MNLF, Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA). " The Mindanao and Sulu Peace Road Map was approved July 18, 2016 by President Duterte. ", according to Lorena.

Malou Tiquia, Political Analyst, Publicus Asia, expressed her concerns in coming to Sulu. "Sulu before was an afterthought. ", describes, Tiquia. Sharing her insights on the Topic "Political Developments and Regional /Local Governance; Prospects and Trends.", "If we review the Local Government Code, it will comeback to centralization.", Tiquia, said.

She pointed out that the Experience in the ARMM is good for Federalism.

Tiquia believes that Central Government should listen down the line. "We should assert ourselves. We must be allowed to determine and decide what direction to take. With the experience of ARMM, these mistakes matter to the people."

On Sulu being an afterthought, " Now I am actually here, I am a fan.", Tiquia, told participants.

The change to a federal system of government will reshape the physical and political philosophy of this nation. Some political analysts are uncertain of the implications in this shift in our charter.

Atty. Bacani, explains the 3 the components of the process. "Framework and Structure, Process and Timeline. Under the Framework is Identity and motivation, under this is the Territory."

"This question of Identity was very evident with the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL.", Bacani, disclosed.

"When the authors of the BBL decided the non-inclusion of the Sultanate in the consultation process, and it turns out that the basis of the Bangsamoro was the Sultanate, we must avoid such disconnect.", explained Bacani.

On the question of Political Development in a federal system, former Governor Abdusakur M. Tan replied " Political development is acceptable, because influential political leaders must compete with other political influences. Sulu can be included with other progressive provinces and cities"

According to some proponents of progress, "If Progress was to be more than the sanguine dream of an optimist it must be shown that man's career on earth had not been a chapter of accidents which might lead anywhere or nowhere, but is subject to discoverable laws”

New principles of order and unity are needed to replace the principles which rationalism had discredited. So that the work contributed to the service, be not of the doctrine of the past, but of the doctrine of the future.

Read more: The Sulu Perspective by Hon. Abdusakur Tan

Source: Province of Sulu Facebook Page

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