Friday, October 21, 2016

OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 21): OPAPP: Shift to federal form of gov't to correct historical wrongs

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said the shift from the current unitary system to a federal form of government will greatly contribute to the correction of the past wrongdoings committed against the Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and several indigenous communities in the country.

This was stressed in OPAPP Secretary Jesus G. Dureza's speech, delivered Wednesday by senior consultant Jose Lorena, at the the Global Autonomy, Governance, and Federalism Forum 2016.

The speech underscored the role of a federal republic as "just and lasting redress for the powerless, dispossessed, and disenfranchised brought by forceful submission of foreign powers and majority culture."

The said forum was initiated by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and the Konrad Adenauer Stieftung (KAS) Philippines, two pioneer organizations that have always shown full support for the peace process.

“Federalism destroys the seeds of injustices that cultivated hostilities and violence by directly addressing people’s needs at a grassroots level,” said Lorena, who also served as undersecretary of the OPAPP in the last administration.

The latter also emphasized that having a centralized government would push different regional groups to compete with each other for dominance, leaving certain sectors marginalized.

He cited the struggles of the Bangsamoro and Cordillera people for self-determination which were deeply rooted in forceful submission to a dominant group imposing to them the majority’s cultural, economic and political policies.

“Federalism liberates us from these woes we currently experience and the tyranny of a particular class, group, or sector,” Lorena continued. “In the long-term, federalism can institutionalize permanent peace and sustainable development in our country.”

For his part, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al-Jah Murad Ebrahim said the creation of the Bangsamoro government under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seeks to correct the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro.

Aside from correcting previous wrongdoings, Murad also shared OPAPP’s current vision that the proposed Bangsamoro entity could be a pilot case study in the current efforts leading to nationwide shift towards a federal system of government.

“If one reads carefully through the pages of the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), then, one cannot but reach the conclusion that powers between Central and the Bangsamoro Governments are meaningfully shared and delegated properly -- a future which is very prominent, it already established federal governments,” Murad said.

The creation of the Bangsamoro government is in step with the proposed constitutional reforms towards federalism.

These formed part of the Bangsamoro roadmap under the six-point peace and development agenda of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“The implementation of the CAB, particularly its political track which means the passage of the restored Bangsamoro Basic Law, must precede the shift from unitary to federal form of government,” Murad stressed.

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