Last August 2-3, 2019 at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) in partnership with the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF), organized a 2-day workshop and consultation on federalism and charter change at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City.
Participants of the event are representatives from international organizations with offices in the Philippines, officials from the local and national government, as well as representatives from business sector all coming from different regions in the country. On the other hand, invited speakers and lecturers in the conference are experts and members of the 2018 Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution (ConCom).
CONFERENCE DAY 1
AUGUST 2, 2019
Lectures were done during the first day of the conference. The Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Edwin Martin, President of the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines (ASPAP) introduced the various speakers and session/workshop chairs of the conference.
For the first session, Fr. Ranhilio Aquino and Atty. Antonio Arellano, both members of the ConCom, did a presentation on Updating State Policies and Human Rights. Serving as session chair to facilitate the discussion during the open forum is the president Integrated Consumer Group of Zamboanga City Inc., Mr. Timothy Ijiran.
The second session was focused on the topic of “Changing the Rules of the Game: Pursuing Political Reforms”. This session was facilitated by Ms. Sandy Paredes, Executive Director of the League of Provinces. The two lecturers in this session are Dr. Julio Teehankee, a member of the Concom; and Mr. Ramon Casiple, a member of the PDP Laban Federalism Institute and Executive Director of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms.
Before the third session, Former Senate President and Co-chair of the ConCom, Aquilino Pimentel Sr. arrived at the conference to deliver his keynote lecture. “Tatay Nene” as many would refer to him, delivered a speech on the necessity and timeliness of changing the Constitution now. He also entertained questions after his speech and gave everyone a token booklet from his family.
After the noon break, ConCom Committee Secretariat, Atty. Marian Cayetano, chaired the third session which was focused on Decentralization, Autonomy and Federalism. The speakers of this session are LOGODEF Executive Director and member of the ConCom Prof. Edmund Tayao, Interim Parliament Speaker of the Bangsamoro Transition Administration Hon. Jose Iribani Lorena, and former Kalinga governor and ConCom member Atty. Lawrence Wacnang.
After the third session, another keynote lecturer arrived. This time, it was the retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, Chair of the ConCom, who did a speech the Limitations of the 1987 Constitution and the formula of reform in the draft Bayanihan Constitution. Noticeable on the retired Chief Justice’s lecture is his reference to a book from two Harvard University Professors, Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, which is titled “How Democracies Die”. He argued that the death of democracy, similar to what was discussed in the book, will occur with the deterioration of our democratic institutions. As such, the retired Chief Justice supported the general argument from the conference lecturers that the 1987 Constitution is not effective anymore in so far as addressing the needs of the people in this present time; changing our Constitution and shifting to a federal form of government will prevent this decay of democratic institutions.
The fourth session was chaired by the ConCom Committee Secretariat, Atty. Gideon De Villa Mortel, D.C.L. The fourth session was about Judiciary and Constitutional Commissions. ConCom Members Fr. Ranhilio Aquino and Atty. Susan Ubalde-Ordinario did their presentations under this session.
The last session of the day was chaired by Dr. Adrian Tamayo from the Mindanao Development Authority. The speakers for this session are ConCom members, Comm. Art Aguilar and Prof. Edmund Tayao who discussed about Pursuing Economic Reforms and Financial Sustainability.
CONFERENCE DAY II
AUGUST 3, 2019
The workshop activities were done during the second day of the event. Participants were divided into two groups where Group 1 will talk about Political and Administrative Issues on Decentralization, while Group 2 would be talking about Economic and Fiscal Issues on Decentralization. Facilitating the discussion on the first workshop is Dr. Edwin Martin, while the second workshop group is facilitated by Mr. Novel Bangsal, the Director of the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department.
Inputs from the different representatives were taken note of by the respective secretariats for each workshop group, their inputs, combined to form an output which will be later used to conduct a policy study on how the government could move forward with federalism.
The second workshop group did their presentation first. The discussion on the second workshop group (fiscal issues) was performed by Dr. Adrian Tamayo. The output of the second workshop group answer the following questions :
- For the question: “What are the objectives of decentralization? Identify 3-5.”
- What are the issues on decentralization? What are the constraints to meeting the objectives of decentralization? And if federalism is the answer, what is the problem?
- Moving forward, how can federalism address these issues?
The answers are summarized according to the following points:
- (A) More power to subnational governments; (B) More revenues to subnational governments; (C) fiscal and local; (D) autonomy (benchmark is the Supreme Court decision on the Mandanas & Garcia case / GR199802 & 208388); (E) responsive and immediate local service delivery
- (A) Over-centralization of functions; (B) Central control of fiscal resources/unfunded mandates; (C) Misinterpretation and mis-implementation of the LGC especially on decentralization; (D) Duplication of functions; (E) Situs of Taxation; (F) Apprehension of national agencies; (G) Restrictions on local borrowing capacity; (H) Inequity/lopsided tax base; (I) Highly fragmented local government structure; (J) Lack of coordination in terms of project conceptualization, planning and implementation; (K) Centralization of determination of budget priorities; (L) Over concentration of resources in Metro Manila
- (A) Strengthen RDCs; (B) Constitutional recognition LGUs in the Bayanihan Constitution; (C) Rotation of provincial governors and HUC mayors within the region (in the scheme of RDC); (D) Regional Parliament composed of vice governors, provincial board members, and HUC councilors; (E) Adopt the Mandanas formula in the Bayanihan Constitution
After the open forum on the second workshop group’s presentation, it was the first workshop group’s turn to present their output with Mr. Rigie Malinao from the National Youth Commission discussing it before the members. The output of the first workshop group is summarized in the following:
- Educational Qualifications or training for local government officials are of paramount importance to forward good governance
- Problem: Potential Leaders in the localities are not given enough educational and professional opportunities to be “good local leaders”
- Suggestion: Compulsory education/training
- The current Constitution doesn’t address what we should do for the people. The LGC fund that is allocated are just like crumbs. Stress even then and now the problems are still the same, there is problem within the leadership even from the lower government.
- Business sector also faces difficulty because permit is hard to get, which result to less investors. It also results to illegal permits and illegal selling.
- Good leader measured by poverty reduction and job rates. Local governments should be able to show in the statistics for every 3 years to show the poverty reduction and job rates for them to get support from businesses. Poverty reduction can be measured not political dynasty.
- Proper term is political monopoly not dynasty, the root cause of this is money politics. There should be a mechanism to control the money.
- Suggestion: In order to control money politics, there should be changes in the denomination or medium of money one month before elections.
- Now, the local perception towards federalism is only pertinent to the concepts of Federalism.
- The details should be clarified in the process. People do not know what kind of federalism the people want.
- Consultations should have follow-ups, if the audience did really understand the discussions made in big groups.
After an open forum, the workshop sessions finally concluded. Prof. Edmund Tayao made a speech to wrap up the activities and exchanges of the whole conference. Usec. Salapantan from the PLLO did the closing remarks.
The event concluded at 3:30 p.m.