Homiliya sa Misa ng Paglilibing kay Reb. Padre Tito Paez

 

HOMILIYA
ng
Lub. Kgg. Roberto C. Mallari, D.D.
Obispo ng San Jose, Nueva Ecija

Misa ng Paglilibing kay
+ Reb. Padre Marcelito Paez

11 Disyembre 2017 | Katedral ni San Jose Manggagawa,
Lungsod ng San Jose, Nueva Ecija

To our Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, His Excellency Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia: thank you for bringing in our midst the silent, loving and prayerful presence of our beloved Pope Francis, all the more your presence makes us feel concretely the unity and solidarity of the Universal Church.  Sa aking kapatid na Obispo, ang Lubhang Kagalang-galang Sofronio Bancud ng Diyosesis ng Cabanatuan, mga kapatid na pari, mga relihiyosong madre at mga brothers ng Diyosesis ng San Jose at mga kapatid na pari na galing sa iba’t ibang diyosesis at iba’t-ibang kongregasyon, sa pamilya ni Fr. Tito Paez, ang kanyang mga kapatid, pamangkin, mga apo, mga kamag-anak at mga kaibigan, mga lider-lingkod ng mga parokya at lahat ng grupong makabayan na galing sa iba’t ibang sulok ng bansa na nakatrabaho ni Fr. Tito Paez: Ang pagmamahal at kapayapaan ng Diyos ng katarungan ay sumainyong lahat!

Noong unang Linggo ng Adbiyento, ika-3 ng Disyembre ay inilunsad natin sa buong Pilipinas ang Taon ng mga pari at mga nagtalaga ng kanilang buhay sa Diyos.   Ito ay bahagi ng siyam na taong paghahanda para sa ikalimangdaang Annibersaryo ng Christiyanismo sa Pilipinas.  Nilalayon sa taong ito na makilala at mapagpanibago ang mahalagang papel ng mga pari at lahat ng nagtalaga ng buhay nila sa Diyos sa pagpapalagap ng Bagong ebanghelisasyon. Lunes, kinabukasan mag-aalas- otso ng gabi binaril at tinamaan ng dalawang bala mula sa siyam na pinaputok sa kanya si Fr. Tito at alas diyes labingdalawa siya ay opisyal na idineklarang “clinically dead.” Isang “sacrificial victim”, isang martir para sa taon ng mga pari at mga nagtalaga ng kanilang buhay sa Diyos.  Isang paring tumulong sa isang “political detainee” at dahil sa kanyang pagtulong na ito ay literal na nag-alay ng kanyang buhay.   Namatay habang nagliligtas ng buhay.   Hindi ko na  nadatnang buhay si Fr. Tito.   Dumating ako wala na siya at nakatakip na siya ng kumot.   Sa unang pagkakataon ay naranasan kong magbukas ng kumot upang tingnan ang mukha ng patay.   Sa likod ng aking isip ay hinihiniling ko na sana hindi siya!   Kung siya man, ano kaya? Galit kaya siya? Mukhang nahirapan kaya dahil sa pagkakabaril sa kanya?   Pagbukas ko, si Fr. Tito nga, hindi siya mukhang galit, hindi mukhang nahirapan kundi isang mukhang payapa ang tumambad sa akin.   Naalala ko ang sinabi ni Hesus sa ebanghelyo ni San Juan: No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (cf. John 10:18) Isang pag-aalay na taus-puso!

Ito ang inilalarawan ng ating ebanghelyo ngayon:   Ang mabuting pastol na nakahandang mag-alay ng buhay hanggang kamatayan para sa kanyang mga tupa.   Sa pag-uumpisa ng taong ito ng kaparian at mga relihiyoso at relihiyosa, ipinapaalala sa atin na ang maging pari at magtalaga ng buhay sa Diyos ay nangangahulugang pagsunod kay Hesus hanggang kamatayan sa krus.   Si Archbishop Soc   ang ating   Metropolitan Archbishop ng Lingayen-Dagupan ay nagsabi na modern na ngayon sa halip na pagpako sa krus ay binabaril na ang mga tagasunod ni Kristo.

Binanggit din sa ating ebanghelyo na ang Mabuting Pastol ay Siyang Pintuan.    Noong unang panahon daw ang kulungan ng mga tupa ay mga kuweba.   Madalas ang mabuting pastol ay maghahanap ng kuweba na may maliit na butas na puwedeng pasukan ng mga tupa para maprotektahan ang mga ito sa sand storm, sa lamig, init, mga magnanakaw at iba pang elemento.   Siya ay tatayo sa may butas at magsisilbi siyang pintuan para sa kanila habang isa-isang pumapasok.   Sa kanilang pagpasok ay nakikita niya kung alin ang may sugat na dapat talian at gamutin.   Kapag nakapasok na lahat, ang mabuting pastol, hawak ang kanyang tungkod ay magbabantay sa labas at doon na siya mismo matutulog.   Para bang sinasabi niya sa may masasamang balak: “Over my dead body.”   Mamamatay muna ako bago ninyo masaktan o makuha ang mga tupang ipinagkatiwala sa akin.

Naalala ko noong sumabog ang Bulkang Pinatubo, sobrang naapektuhan ang Pampanga.   Mayroon kaming karanasan na isa sa mga pari namin, sa kalagitnaan ng matinding pagragasa ng lahar ay siyang unang-unang tumakbo at tumakas upang iligtas ang kanyang sarili.   Noong babalik na siya ay hinarangan siya ng mga tao. Nagbarikada sila at ayaw na siyang pabalikin.   Sa kabilang banda ay mayroon din kaming isang pari na hindi umalis hanggang mayroon pang tao sa kanyang parokya.   Ito naman ay lubos na minahal ng kanyang mga parokyano sapagkat isinabuhay niya ang tawag sa kanya upang maging mabuting pastol, ang isipin ang kapakanan ng kawan bago ang sarili. Ito din ang malinaw na isinabuhay ni Fr. Tito. Hindi na niya alintana ang panganib, mapaglingkuran lamang ang kawang sa kanya ay ipinagkatiwala.

Ang pagkamatay ni Fr. Tito ay isang magandang pagkakataon upang ilagay natin ang ating mga sarili sa harap ng Diyos. Ano ba ang hamon nito na magdudulot ng pagbabago sa bawat isa? Ano ba ang sinasabi nito para sa pagbabago ng ating mga kaparian at lahat ng nagtalaga ng buhay sa Diyos? Ano nga ba ang itinuturo sa atin ni Fr. Tito sa kanyang kamatayan na malalim na natanim sa mga araw ng kanyang burol?

Isang bagay ang matingkad na itinuturo niya sa atin – Ang Pag-ibig sa bayan ay hindi taliwas sa Pag-ibig sa Diyos; bagkus ito ay dapat sumasalamin sa tunay na kahulugan ng pagmamahal sa Diyos.   Noong nagretreat si Fr. Tito upang ihanda ang sarili sa pagtatalaga sa Diyos, itinalaga din niya ang sarili niya sa Bayang Pilipinas na mahal natin.  Sabi nga ni Msgr. Rolly Mabutol hindi siya aktibistang pari kundi isa siyang rebolusyunaryong pari na may malalim na pagmamahal sa bayan. Sa pagtugon natin sa tawag ng Diyos tayo ay ipinapadala sa mga konkretong sitwasyon na nag-aanyayang makialam sa mga usaping panlipunan, na dapat ipaglaban ang karapatang pantao at manindigan para sa kabanalan ng buhay at humanap ng katarungan sa mga naaapi at mga pinagkaitan nito.

Malinaw na ipinaaabot sa atin ng pagbubuwis ng buhay ni Fr. Tito na dapat ay kongkreto nating maipakita ang tunay na pagmamahal sa bayan – iniisip ang makabubuti sa lahat nang walang nayuyurakang karapatan at maipagpatuloy ang pagpapalaganap ng tunay na katarungan para sa lahat. Sa kanyang pagpanaw, hinahamon tayong tumugon nang may pagmamahal sa gitna ng kagipitan at paniniil. Ang totoong Kristiyano ay hindi naghahangad ng ikapapahamak ng kapwa bagkus ay nagpapalaganap ng pagmamahal sa Diyos, bayan at kapwa – ito ang mga katangiang isinabuhay ni Fr. Tito at kanyang iniiwang ala-ala sa atin ngayon.

Father Tito Paez: ‘A comrade for others’

‘He offered his life not only as a priest but also as a comrade. He was a comrade for others – a hero, a martyr,’ says San Jose City Bishop Roberto Mallari of slain activist priest Marcelito ‘Tito’ Paez
Eloisa Lopez
Published 10:21 AM, December 12, 2017
Updated 11:27 AM, December 12, 2017

HERO, MARTYR’. Catholic priest Marcelitio ‘Tito’ Paez was gunned down by unknown men on December 4, 2017, after facilitating the release of a political prisoner in Cabanatuan City, NUeva Ecija. Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – Unlike most funeral masses, the casket of Father Marcelito “Tito” Paez rested directly on the floor of the St Joseph Cathedral in Nueva Ecija.

On Monday, December 10, bishops who concelebrated the funeral mass for the slain activist priest wore red stoles over white gowns, unlike the purple ones priests usually wear for such occasions.

More than a hundred priests concelebrated the mass, including the new papal nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, who brought with him the “silent, loving, and prayerful presence” of Pope Francis.

Fr Edwin Brago of the St Joseph Cathedral said the casket on the floor and the priests in red symbolized the slain priest’s humility and martyrdom.

“All priests should lay on the ground in their deaths to embody the humble lives they lived,” Brago said.

“Red [is worn], not because we are to rebel. Red, for our church, because it is the symbol of martyrdom,” he added.

PRAYER FROM THE POPE. Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia brought a prayer from Pope Francis for Fr Tito Paez. Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler

The 72-year-old retired priest was slain on December 4 as he was driving home after facilitating the release of political prisoner Rommel Tucay in Cabanatuan City. Tucay, known to be an organizer of militant group Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson, was jailed earlier this year for illegal possession of firearms.

An activist priest, it was not the first time Paez got involved in such political activities. In his 32 years of service in the Diocese of San Jose City, the priest had always stood up for the human rights of the oppressed, especially in Central Luzon. At the time of his death, he was the coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon.

This was perhaps why Paez looked so peaceful in his casket, San Jose City Bishop Roberto Mallari said in his homily during the funeral mass.

Paez, he said, was “ambushed and shot 9 times” by the unknown killers and yet his face did not bear any signs of anger.

“He does not look angry. He does not look like he suffered. He looks like he is at peace,” Mallari said.

Mallari remembered Paez as a cheerful priest who loved dancing and parties, but more importantly, as a priest who was killed while saving a life.

For Mallari, Paez was not simply an activist but a revolutionary.

“He offered his life not only as a priest but also as a comrade. He was a comrade for others – a hero, a martyr,” Bishop Mallari said.

Like a true hero, hundreds of sympathizers escorted Paez to his final resting place. The procession included nuns, priests, activists, and members of his family who walked under the scorching sun. (READ: Slain Nueva Ecija priest Tito Paez laid to rest)

Streamers calling for justice for his death were raised as the crowd chanted “Mabuhay si Fr Tito Paez.”

To bid their last goodbye to their colleague at the Sto Nino Cemetery, the priests sang “Bayan Ko” and “Pilipinas Kong Mahal.” Others sang along with them, some with raised clenched fists.

FAREWELL SONG. Priests sing ‘Bayan Ko’ and “Pilipinas Kong Mahal’ as Fr Tito Paez is laid to rest. Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler

Louder prayers and protests

On December 10, International Human Rights Day – the eve of Paez’s burial – several militant and church groups gathered in Manila to appeal to the government to respect and defend human rights.

Organizations with different causes joined the protest with a common goal: end the killings.

Among the thousands who marched from the Andres Bonifacio Shrine to the iconic peace arch in Mendiola were priests and seminarians of St Vincent School of Theology in Tandang Sora.

Father King Gaza, who was part of the group, told Rappler that they were prompted to join the protest after hearing about Paez’s death.  Continue reading

Paninindigan Para Sa Bayan

Bilang pagkilala sa ginawang pag-aalay ng buhay ni Fr. Tito at sa ating pagnanais na magkaroon ng tunay na pagbabago sa ating lipunan hinihiling kung… sabay-sabay nating bigkasin ang paninindigan para sa bayan:

Paninindigan Para Sa Bayan

(Akda ni Arsobispo Socrates Villegas)

Sumasampalataya kami sa Diyos na makapangyarihan,  mapagmahal at mapagpatawad.

 Naniniwala kami na ang Pilipinas ay lupang hinirang ng Diyos at ang Pilipino ay bayang mahal ng Maykapal.

 Naninindigan kami na ang Pilipino ay matapat at totoo.

Pinanghahawakan namin na ang Pilipino ay likas na magalang at mapitagan sa nakatatanda, sa mahihina, sa mga bata, sa bawat kapwa.

 Laban kami sa lahat ng kasinungalingang ipinupukol kaliwat kanan at kalaswaan sa pagkilos, pananalita at pamumuhay.

 Saliwa sa aming kinamulatan bilang Pilipino ang pagpaslang sa buhay ng sinuman may sala man o wala. Naniniwala kami na may sumpang parusa ang bayang masayang nakatuntong sa ibabaw ng mga bangkay ng mga kababayang pinatay.

 Iginagalang ko at ipagtatanggol ang mga lingkod bayang pinuno ng pamahalaan   na inuuna ang bayan kaysa sa sarili sa kabila ng pangungutya na sa kanila’y ipinupukol.

 Itinatakwil namin ang pandarambong sa yaman ng bayan ang pagpaparangal sa mga taksil at sinungaling at ang pagtatakip sa kasalanan ng mga gahaman at magnanakaw.

 Laban kami sa droga at lahat ng krimen at handa kaming labanan ang lahat ng ito nang buong sigasig at tapang nang sang-ayon sa batas ng Diyos ng buhay at hindi sa kung ano ang sumpong ng taong nasa kapangyarihan.

Ipagtatanggol ko ang Pilipinas laban sa paniniil ng kababayan o panghihimasok ng dayuhan hindi sa kamao ng dahas at paninindak o pagbubulag-bulagan dahil sa maling pagkakaibigan kundi sa tulong ng Diyos na nakikinig sa tinig ng kanyang bayang nagdurusa at sa pamamagitan ng magalang na usapan.

 Sumasampalataya ako na hihilumin ng Diyos ang Pilipinas Mananariwang muli ang kabayanihan at sisibol ang bagong umaga ng tunay na Pilipino. May pag asa ang Pilipinas sa tulong at awa ng Diyos. Amen.

Stop the Killing. Arrest the Killers of Fr. Tito Paez

NASSA/ Caritas Philippines Statement on the Killing of Fr. Tito Paez

 

Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel
(Justice in the World # 6)

The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace/Caritas Philippines of the Catholic Bishops’ of the Philippines vehemently condemns the brutal killing of 72-year-old priest, Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez from the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, by men riding in tandem last December 4, 2017 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.  The brutal killing is an attack to the Church and her mission for social justice and empowerment of the poor.  It slowly creates social awareness among Filipinos that no one who is working for social development in the community level is safe anymore in the present socio-political situation in the country.  It also reflects the deterioration of values and respect of human life, especially those who are mandated to protect the human rights.

Fr. Tito Paez, who earlier facilitated the release of political prisoners in the Provincial Jail in Cabanatuan City, was on his way home at 8 PM when he was attacked and shot by motorcycle-riding in tandem while driving his vehicle along the road in Jaen town of Nueva Ecija.  He was immediately brought to a nearby hospital, but died hours later.  The assailants are suspected to be state security forces or their assets.

Perhaps, Fr. Tito’s mistake, in the eyes of the persecutors, was his passion in his ministry for social justice and development of the life of the farmers, fisher folks and workers.  He was very active in the social action programs of the Diocese of San Jose, particularly in the Justice and Peace Office which the primary goal is to uphold the human rights of the poor.  Facilitating the release of a political detainee may be the cause of his death.

Fr. Tito is one of the many clergy and religious people who offered their lives for the cause of social justice.  He heeded the challenge of Pope Francis: “The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might.  In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: You yourselves give them something to eat, it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote development of the poor…” (EG #188).  His engagement with the poor expressed his desire to address inequity of “enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses” (Rerum Novarum #1).  All peoples, especially the pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor.

For the sake of justice and rule of law, NASSA/Caritas Philippines calls upon the Duterte government to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and arrest the perpetrators to give justice for the death of Fr. Tito.  NASSA/Caritas Philippines also demands the government to stop its security forces from acts of violence on Church people who commit themselves to serve and work with the poor towards empowerment and development.  Church people are only complimenting the government’s task in promoting, defending and fulfilling the human rights of the Filipinos for common good.  As long as the government only serves and works for and with the “few”, conflicts of interest may fuel government to attack anyone or groups who work for social justice and common good.

Continue reading

Bang!

Awit sa paggunita ng kamatayan ng kabanalan at dignidad ng buhay.

Siya’y siga sa aming lugar
Kinatatakutan ng lahat
Maraming nagnanais na sana nga
Maglaho na siya’t mawala

Bang! Bang! Wala na siya
Bang! Bang! Wala na siya

Minsan pang siya’y naging adik sa droga
Naging asset ng kapulisan
Napasok sa rehab nabagong ganap,
Naging asset sa lipunan 

Bang! Bang! Wala na siya
Bang! Bang! Wala na siya

Kultura ng kamatayan
Takot syang naghahari sa bayan
Kawalang halaga sa sagradong buhay
Pagkalinga’t pagdamay

Asawa ko hwag nang mag-aalala
May trabaho nang nakita
Maitataguyod na’ng ating pamilya
Pangarap ng bawat isa

Bang! Bang! Wala na siya
Bang! Bang! Wala na siya

Siya’y ulirang batang anak
Magalang, mabait, masipag mag-aral|
Siyay matulungin mapagbigay
Palakaibigan sa lahat

Bang! Bang! Wala na siya
Bang! Bang! Wala na siya

Kultura ng kamatayan
Takot syang naghahari sa bayan
Kawalang halaga sa sagradong buhay
Pagkalinga’t pagdamay

Kulturang kawalang modo syang pinagpalit
Bastos, palamura
Arogante’t pikon, mapag-insulto
Bulgar niyang biro pinapalakpakan.

Ngayon nga’y kamay na bakal ang siyang umiiral
Sa Mindanao
Sa napakaliwanag na dahilan
Na siya lamang ang sadyang nakakaalam

Ngayon kaarawan ni Tatay,
Tumawag siya uuwi ng maaga
Magtitipon-tipon kaming magpamilya
Sasalo’t magdiriwang

Bang!

Happy birthday, happy birthday
Happy birthday Tatay (pause)

Bang!

Forum On Constitutional and Fiscal Autonomy Groups (CFAGs)

Photo credit: GMA News

By: Christian S. Monsod

I am asked to provide the framework and the context of our forum today, with each of the 6 eminent speakers sharing with us the role of their institutions in our democratic system of checks and balances and the importance of their independence and unobstructed work in serving the best interests of the nation and our people.

My talk consists of three parts – first, the intent and design of the Constitution with respect to the constitutional offices with fiscal autonomy. In doing, so, I may touch on other provisions because the constitution must be read as a whole even when specific issues are on the table. The second part is the context of this forum. And the third part is “the challenge we face”.

(A) THE CONSTITUTION AND THE INDEPENDENT CFAGs

What is happening today at the political scene with threats of abolishing the Congress and the Supreme Court, the aborted zero budget for the CHR, the resignation of the Comelec Chair, the impeachment charges against the Chief Justice and the threat of it against the Tanodbayan, among others, is not the design of our Constitution when it provided for separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.

The backdrop of the Constitution was the overthrow of a dictatorship described by its Framers as “a nightmare of greed, intolerance, brutality and disrespect for democratic institutions.”

Its inspiration was EDSA and the restoration of democracy. But EDSA was more than that – it was the promise of a new social order with radical changes, but through democratic means.

That was a tall order. And before the writing of the Constitution, national consultations nationwide were held to listen to the people and they overwhelmingly preferred the stability of familiar structures under the 1935 constitution – a democratic, representative, presidential system, with checks and balances and separation of powers. And, they wanted the power to directly vote for their president. But from the expeirence of the Marcos regime, they also wanted safeguards against the return of authoritarianism in any form, they wanted social justice and wanted our national destiny to be firmly and safely placed on Filipinos themselves.

All this was, in many ways, counter-cultural and therefore “radical” because our history is marked by a tendency to give up powers to colonizers and dictators, of deferring to so-called “strong” leaders, of allowing a business oligarchy to rule our economy and of over-dependence of the poor on rich landowners for their basic necessities.

This is validated by the studies of experts that a number of factors account for our laggardness among our neighbors in addressing mass poverty and inequality, but foremost are flawed policies and weak institutions that are rooted in a feudalistic system that has been impervious to change for generations and, of course, its companion evil — corruption.

Thus, the Constitution can be viewed as affirmative action for our democracy. It seeks to correct the shortcomings of previous constitutions, to address the “wrongs” of history and to empower and enable the ordinary Filipino to rise above himself. It makes difficult the consolidation of powers. It provides a system that should correct itself when it theatens to get out of control. And in that process of correction, the role of the people is a critical factor.

Our Constitution is considered one of the most progressive in the world alongside that of South Africa. We already have the provisions that many countries are trying to install in theirs in the search for peace and development.

The 1987 Constitution was the first time that we spoke to the world as a truly independent and democratic Filipino nation. It is a document that had not been imposed on us by any colonial power or by a dictatorship.

High on the list of its new provisions are measures to strengthen the system of checks and balances, such as a new Article on Social Justice and Human Rights as the central theme or “heart”of the Constitution to empower the poor as the center of development and a new Article on Education and other means to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

The three traditional branches of government exercise checks and balances on one another, but subject to the “checking” powers of three independent constitutional commissions and the new office of the Ombudsman – a system that is unique to our system. Plus the Commission on Human Rights. The Constitution also strengthened   the Judiciary that can be overpowered by the Executive and the Legislative, with the power of judicial review of “grave abuse” by any agency or instrumentality of the government. We learned in law school that the legislative is the purse, the Executive is the sword and the Judiciary is the conscience of the nation.

The Office of the Ombudsman is tasked to act swiftly and inexpensively on any act or omission by any public official on anything illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It was even proposed to be called “sumbungan ng bayan”, to encourage the poor to bring their problems to it. Moreover, the appointment of the Tanodbaysn is vetted by the Judicial and Bar Council, not by the Commission on Appointments, and to further insulate it from political influence or interference, the Tanodbayan has the power of appointment over the officials and employees of the Office, except for its Deputies. The Congress also saw fit to give it prosecutorial powers and to “investigate any serious misconduct in office allegedly committed by officials removable by impeachment, for the purpose of filing a verified complaint for impeachment, if warranted.”

The powers of the Ombudsman must surely make a president uncomfortable if he has “moist eyes” on being an autocrat, as my friend Rene Saquisag would say.

To ensure the independence of these institutions, their basic powers are inscribed in the Constitution and cannot be diminished by ordinary legislation, they all have fiscal autonomy and the Tanodbayan and members of the constitutional commissions, except for the CHR, can only be removed by impeachment, just like the President, Vice-President and members of the Supreme Court.

The impeachment process was liberalized under the 1987 Constitution as part of the broader accountability mandate, with fewer votes needed in the House and in the Senate compared to the 1935 Constitution, the addition of “betrayal of public trust” as a ground for it, and the meticulous steps to hasten the proceedings. But the principles of “good faith” and “honest mistakes” on the part of the official as well as its primary purpose as a remedial process to maintain constitutional government, and not as a personal punishment, still apply.

This is a serious undertaking that should not be cheapened by other motives. And those that abet it also encourage our people to disrespect the Constitution that would devalue it as the most potent weapon to protect their rights and their freedoms. Cheapening the power of impeachement would constitute, wittingly or unwittingly, a step towards what mental health experts refer to as “malignant normality” which can take different forms but, in the case of democratic countries, considered as part of the democratic process. Thus, a dangerous leader becomes normalized, and malignant normality comes to dominate the governing dynamic.[1]

The Commission on Human Rights is also a creation of the Constitution but is not considered on the same level as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Constitutional Commissions under Article IX. It’s power is to investigate violations of human rights, civil and political. regardless of who commits it, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At this point, may I take a moment’s digression on the matter of civil and political rights as distinguished from economic and social rights.

The 1987 Constitution cut the umbilical cord of the 1935 and 1973 constitutions to the United States Constitution, which gives primacy to civil and political rights because it is a country of immigrants who all started from the same position and only wanted to be free from autocracy.

Our Constitution gives social and economic rights equal primacy with civil and political rights because we are a country of inequalities from the colonial days to the present where the starting positions of the rich and the poor are not equal. Social Justice is about the adjustment of these starting positions.

To make that adjustment, the State can use its police powers such as income distribution programs (primarily quality education and quality health care, ensuring the inalienable rights of labor) and asset reform programs for the poorest of the poor (agrarian reform, urban land reform and housing, ancestral domain and fisheries reform).

(B) THE CONTEXT OF OUR FORUM

Why this forum in the first place? Because there are alarming signs of creeping authoritarianism and of threats to our democracy through constitutional or extra-constitutional means and, equally alarming, signs of deference to the Executive by institutions precisely tasked to provide the checks on any abuse of power, like the Congress and the Supreme Court.

The talk of the town is a revolutionary government with total powers as a transition to a federal-parliamentary system and the added matter of a PDP-Laban draft constitution that may be a more serious problem than the RevGov for two reasons: (1) it would constitutionalize a “strong” president with extraordinary powers and a centralized federal government in the transition, (2) it changes the central theme of our Constitution from social justice to the agenda of business.

These are big issues because Social justice and Human Rights is the centerpiece program of the Constitution for a reason. To finally correct the oppression of the Marcos regime and the centuries of injustice to the poor by a ruling elite, many from business, which has yet to be completed. Business and the PDP-Laban appear to have completely forgotten the context of the 1987 Constitution – the historic event of EDSA – in which they both played a part, and where we promised the poor a new social order. We forget that promise and there is hell to pay from the poor. As my former colleague at the Comelec, the late Haydee Yorac, would say – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

We are told that the best predictor of the behavior of an elected official who aspires to be an autocrat are the statements of the person himself because those are what brought him to power in the first place. As early as 2015, then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte already mentioned his plan for a revolutionary government. He would padlock Congress and the judiciary through extra-constitutional means. The RevGov, he says, is meant to fix government and the Constitution because “the wellspring of corruption is the Constitution itself,”

And we are all familiar with his utterances about the evil of drugs: ‘If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.’

How could he be any clearer about his agenda? And from all accounts, his Filipino audiences whether here or abroad reacted positively to his statements even the outrageous with the foul language.

Why that reaction? Was it because they saw in him the authentic representation of the real change they have been waiting for?

In 2016, many voters deserted the mainstream. As someone describes the phenomenon – most voters “hungered for politicians who can make a rousing argument for drastic solutions.”

And if many of us are increasingly frustrated about a system that can’t seem to find its bearings, can you imagine the frustration of the poor amidst a first world culture of consumerism and of shameless self-promotion by those in power to preserve their entitlements and domination of national policies?

In other words, Duterte the Mayor got it right on the deeper yearnings of the people and was elected by a huge plurality. And the question is: can Duterte the President pull it off on his own terms – the radical change he promised? Whether a RevGov was a trial balloon or not is really irrelevant. We can only ignore the sentiment behind the vote for him at the peril of undertaking the wrong solutions.

Hence, the RevGov. The President and his people are saying that his reform agenda is suffering delays because he underestimated the gravity and complexity of some of the problems, like the drug problem. More important, the president is being obstructed by corrupt politicians, a lazy or disobedient bureaucracy, an entrenched oligarchy and the destabilization plots of the Yellows and the Reds.

There are opinions that the RevGov option is being floated by the President because the issues of corruption, extra-judicial killings and underperformance on his election promises are beginning to catch up to him. And a RevGov is the quickest way to abort these threats. But the President is not that reckless and there is always his supermajority in the Congress, whose loyalty however may not be always total,, and a Supreme Court that is increasingly deferential to him with three questionable decisions – the Marcos burial as a hero, the martial law ruling that virtually allows him to proclaim it anytime anywhere, and the dismissal of the de Lima petition to be freed from detention on the basis of technicalities, and not substantial justice.

In fact, a reading of the PDP-Laban proposed federal constitution retains the provisions on the Supreme Court, Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights and the commander-in-chief powers. There are no amendments to weaken the offices and safeguards. And it may occur to us that the agenda is to keep the institutions but to appoint people totally deferential to the President to occupy them, after the incumbents have retired or have been removed from office through impeachment or “for cause”.

A revolutionary government is defined as a government after an overthrow, repudiation or replacement of an established government or political system to effect some desired result. There is nothing in the Constitution that allows it. It is always described by its proponents as a temporary measure. In practice, a revolutionary government is just another dictatorship. It’s about power, either by one person or a revolutionary council. In practice, its “transition period” can last a long, long time. In short,, a revolutionary government in whatever form may be the biggest threat to date to our democracy.

As a lawyer, surely the President is aware of the legal consequences of going outside the Constitution to address his problems of governance. He can be considered as resigned from (or as abandoning) the presidency and abrogating the Constitution on behalf of a “revolutionary government” of his own making, for the reason that the government that he now heads is not performing. That sounds like a “theatre of the absurd”.

The military has already said that it would not go along with a revolutionary government and will choose to uphold the Constitution. I believe that the military will stay the course.

Without the option of a revolutionary government, the President has only one other option to become an autocrat — through “constitutional authoritarianism”. In other words through charter change. As stated in the summary of the PDP-Laban proposal, in the transition to a federal-parliamentary government, we will need:

(1) a popularly elected presidency to hold and unite the country together and ensure that the transition to federalism and as an arbiter of regional disputes;

(2) an effective president to deal with powerful countries like China and the United States, as well as to effectively compete in a globalized world economy;

(3) a president who can decisively address the numerous national security problems and natural disasters;

(4) a pure parliamentary system without strong political parties can be unstable. It will take time to build strong political parties and a president to ensure that there is no gridlock in our political system and a president who can remain decisive in cases of national crises.

The time line for implementing federalism would start with the enactment of a new Regional and Local Government Code within 18 months (unless extended by the President) from ratification of a federal constitution (originally scheduled in 2019) through an organic law for each region, over a minimum transition period of 10 years, or up to about 2032.

During the transition, the Regional Government shall be a Regional Commissioin composed of the current governors and mayors of the regions exercising both executive and legislative functions. During that period, it is up to the State (i.e. central or federal government) to determine each region’s competence, capacity and resources to become a federal state and the nature and scope of the decentralization and devolution.

Which means that many regions may have to wait about 15 years to reap the benefits of a federal state, if any. And, hopefully, because all the pitfalls and complexities of the shift are acknowledged by the PDP-Laban proposal, while still going all out on that slippery slope that could ruin our democracy. And when experts say that the problem of “ imperial Manila” can be solved by ordinary legislation like amending the Local Government Code of 1991.

Since the Article on Transitory Provisions of the PDP-Laban draft is still to be written, we will not really know the details of the transition until then. But a “strong” president and a more centralized system is clearly a critical factor in the transition to 2032.. The question is: what happens to a Constitution suited to the requirements of President Duterte and what happens to us, if he dies before his time. He will be 87 by 2032.

All this looks like a future that is dependent on the roll of a dice. To date there are more questions than answers in the proposals of the Duterte Administration.

All the above are largely outside the radar screen of our people. We have a problem in our hands.

We are told that an ignorant people can never remain a free people because democracy cannot survive for long with civic ignorance. And if we do not do anything about it and prefer to live with our frustrations about who is accountable for things that go wrong, someone will eventually come and say, I will solve all your problems, if you give me total power. And we will give it to him. And that’s how democracy dies.[2]

The fact is we have so far failed in human development not because of the Constitution, but because we have not fully implemented it, especially its provisions on social justice and human rights and on local autonomy. The Constitution is not the problem, it is part of the solution.

But how can the Constitution be properly implemented or even debated if there is pervasive ignorance of it? About 73% of our people admit to not knowing anything about the Constitution.[3] The civic education of our people is a responsibility of government. And a government fails in that duty when it tells the people to trust President Duterte with total powers and engages in partisan political propaganda rather than a truthful account of our history and the content of the Constitution.

(C) THE CHALLENGE WE FACE

The challenge to civil society, the church, the media and the government people who care, is to fill this gap on public education. If we don’t fill the gap with an intelligent and comprehensive education campaign, including a possible dialogue with the president, the people may be misled into supporting a misguided, even a self-serving, overhaul of the Constitution.

I am reminded of that paraprosdokian: “I would like to die peacefully in my sleep like my father, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.” Maybe it is time for all of us to make our voices heard, though not exactly in the same way.

Why and how should a dialogue be sought with the President?

First, lets be clear about our assumptions.

  1. The assumption of this paper is the position of the farmers I work with that President Duterte’s heart is genuinely for the poor and he is sincere on being the bearer of change. But sincerity is not a substitute for correctness. He must also be correct on how to fulfill that vision. But he is at least an “enigma” with the contradictions that all of us have, but more intensified for his own reasons. He shows some signs of what mental health experts call “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” or NPD and of paranoia which exaggerates threats to himself that is manifested in streaks of vindictiveness. But the issue about him is not “mental illness” but of “dangerousness”, especially if given total powers.
  2. I believe that there is a statesman in every politician and it is up to us to find it in whatever way we can. As long as there is a window of rationality, however small the opening, it is worth the effort to try.
  3. Democracy is about dialogue and compromise. There is very little space in the room for purists.. But we all have a right to be heard.
  4. We want him to know that we are willing to work with him on the goal of a new social order using the lens of social justice and peace-making and want to discuss alternatives on how it can be done without resorting to a revolutionary government (which may be turbulent and divisive under any circumstances) or a major overhaul of the Constitution, and especially not with the PDP-Laban version which is a shameless betrayal of the EDSA legacy.
  5. Bringing the President down with people power is not a good idea. He is still a beacon of hope to many of the poor and we must heed that sentiment. He is also a duly elected constitutional President and we should respect it, regardless of the survey ratings, as long as he abides by his oath of allegiance to it. If he does not, we have a fight in our hands for our freedoms. We have fought five of the last 6 presidents on issues of principle and have won all al them.[4] A Pulitzer awardee reminds: “the most common way that people lose their power is when they think that they don’t have any.”[5]

In closing, in the turmoil and confusion of the moment, allow me to paraphrase Albert Camus when he received the Nobel Prize that, regardless of the consequences, “we must put ourselves at the service not of those who make history, but of those who suffer it.

Thank you and good day

[1] The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 2017

[2]

[3] Pulse Asia survey of July 2017

[4] Marcos (on dictatorship), Ramos (on Pirma), Estrada (on Concord), Arroyo (on Sigaw ng Bayan,) Pinoy Aquino (on Hacienda Luisita)

[5] Alice Walker

Shift To Federalism: A Lethal Experiment, A Fatal Leap, A Plunge To Death, A Leap To Hell*

Photo credit: cebudailynews.inquirer.net

(Speech delivered by Chief Justice (ret.) Hilario G. Davide, Jr. on 21 November 2017, 12:00pm at the Joint Membership Forum of the Makati Business Club (MBC), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and the Employees Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) held at the Turf Room, Manila Polo Club, Makati City)

Dear officers and members of the MBC, PCCI, MAP, FINEX and ECOP; guests; ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you, Marife for your generous words of introduction.

Thank you again Mr. Chua, our MBC Chair, for inviting me to this joint membership forum. I am definitely honored and privileged to be with the officers and members of very prestigious and highly respected groups of business leaders whose views affect and have immeasurable impact on the development, progress, peace, prosperity, security and stability of our country and on the lives of our people. In the worst of adverse circumstances and times, they can even influence the way to the opposite of any, some, or all of these. Perforce, their views must be carefully and seriously considered by the Government and our leaders, especially those who are tasked to fulfill the prayer of the sovereign Filipino people in the Preamble of our 1987 Constitution. What is this prayer? It is the imploring of the aid of the Almighty God to build a just and humane society; and to establish a government that shall embody their ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop their patrimony and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.

Chairman Chua ordered me to talk, for a minimum of thirty minutes, on the much publicized and propagandized topic: the shift from the unitary to the Federal system of government in our country; and, for that purpose, to amend the Constitution via the shortest mode – a Constituent Assembly. This shortest mode is expected to submit for ratification the proposed Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines in May of 2018 so that the first elections under the Federal system can be held on the second Monday of May 2019, the date of our next regular national synchronized elections.

Why the unusual haste in this move to the Federal system? Your honest guess is as good as mine. The fact remains that early in his term the President, who is openly for the Federal system, wanted a Constitutional Convention. But he later agreed with Speaker Alvarez of the Lower House to have, instead, a Constitutional Assembly to save on expenses and to expedite the process. The President even issued in December of last year an Executive Order creating a sort of Preparatory Commission which shall be tasked to draft the proposed new Constitution for the Federal Republic of the Philippines to be thereafter submitted to the Constituent Assembly. It appears, however, that the Lower House cannot wait for that. Through its Committee on Constitutional Amendments, it is now rushing the drafting of the proposed Constitution for the Federal Republic of the Philippines by a Constituent Assembly with three proposals at hand serving as its working drafts. The first proposal, in sixty-three (63) pages, is Senate Resolution No. 10 filed by then Senator Nene Pimentel during the Fourteenth Congress; the second is Resolution No. 08, in eighty-three (83) pages, introduced lately in the Lower House by Representatives Aurelio Gonzales and Eugene Michael de Vera; and the third is the proposal, in sixty-seven (67) pages, submitted by the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute. Each of these proposals can produce the longest Constitution the Philippines will ever have.

The principal reason adduced in these proposals and also by other known proponents for the shift to Federalism is that our present unitary system is highly centralized and has created an “Imperial Manila” – not imperial Makati – which nurtures and perpetuates a tremendous imbalance in its favor and against the present political subdivisions or local government units – the autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays – in the exercise of governmental powers and in the distribution and allocation of government resources, funds, and projects as well as in development, growth, progress, prosperity, and stability. To remove that imbalance there must be put up between the highly centralized authority and these local government units a strong autonomous sovereign governmental authority or seat of power which shall share with the authority and power of the central government to the end that the local government units will truly enjoy the blessings of genuine autonomy.

I would forthwith assert that a shift to federalism or amendments to our present Constitution to accomplish the goals and objectives of the proponents of Federalism is totally unnecessary. The reasons adduced to support it are deceptively misleading and unfounded. All such goals and objectives can adequately and sufficiently be accomplished, and the reasons disproven, by merely, but effectively and efficiently, implementing the relevant provisions of our present 1987 Constitution for strong local autonomy and decentralization. One whole Article of this Constitution – Article X – is devoted to Local Government. It provides for the infrastructure guaranteeing this local autonomy and decentralization. This Article orders Congress to enact a Local Government Code which shall, among other things, provide for more responsive and accountable local government structures instituted through a system of decentralization, allocate among the different local government units their power, responsibilities, and resources (Sec. 3). The first Congress convened under our present Constitution enacted in 1991 the Local Government Code.

This Article X likewise provides that local governments shall be entitled to an equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the natural wealth within their respective areas, in the manner provided by law, including the sharing in the same with the inhabitants therein (Sec. 7). It provides for the creation of metropolitan subdivisions (Sec. 11), and grants local government units power to group themselves, consolidate, or contribute their efforts, services, and resources for purposes commonly beneficial to them in accordance with law (Sec. 13).

The same Article X directs the President to provide for regional development councils for purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units in the region (Sec. 14).

In brief, effective decentralization or power sharing between the central government and the political subdivisions are already assured and mandated – not denied or impeded – by the Constitution. On the contrary, they are hampered or impeded by the failure to implement the Constitution.

If more are still needed, Congress needs only to amend the 1991 Local Government Code.

Our 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, which was drafted by the 1986 Constitutional Commission is the best Constitution of the world. It is the only which is PRO-God, PRO-Filipino, PRO-people, as well as PRO (spelled P-R-O) in all of these: life, marriage, family, poor, social justice and human rights, women, youth, environment, among many others. It is the only Constitution that institutionalizes the doctrine that a public office is a public trust, meaning that all public officers and employees are servants of the people (Section 1, Article XI), thereby enshrining the “servant leadership” principle that Jesus Christ Himself proclaimed. It contains sufficient provisions against abuse of powers and guarantees people’s active participation in governance, including the use of people power. I know this Constitution very well because I was, together with our good friend, Ricardo Romulo, among the Commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission who drafted it. When we voted on its final draft on 12 October 1986, I ended the explanation of my affirmative vote with these words: “This is the Constitution I am willing to die for.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court, two previous attempts to amend this 30-year old Constitution failed. The first was to lift the term limits of elected officials especially that of the President to allow the then incumbent President to run for re-election; the second was to adapt the parliamentary system so that the then incumbent President who cannot run for re-election can run for Congress and be elected Prime Minister.

Sad to say, however, a recent survey disclosed that only about 27% of our people know about the Constitution. Upon the other hand, a great majority of its provisions, especially on social justice, have not been implemented. A number of provisions require enabling statutes or laws to give life to them. The commands for Congress or the Government to do so are prescribed about 150 times in the Constitution through such phrases as “The State shall”; “Congress shall”; or “as provided by law”. Similarly, the public trust character of public office remains wantonly disregarded by our public servants.

Shall we now entice or lure our people to amend or revise a Constitution which only 27% of them know? Or, worse yet, a Constitution that is not fully implemented and given life primarily because Congress has been sleeping on its solemn duty to pass laws to implement its mandates?

Needless to stress, all public servants who propose to amend the Constitution, especially that of adapting the Federal system, must first meticulously examine and understand the Constitution and honestly ask themselves: Have we done enough to be true and faithful public servants elected or appointed under the Constitution? They must remind themselves that upon assumption of office, each took a solemn oath to, among others, “uphold and defend the Constitution” (Sec. 1, Chapter 10, Book I, Administrative Code of the Philippines). By express mandate of the Constitution (Sec. 5, Article VII), the President, Vice President, and Acting President shall take a solemn oath to, among others, “preserve and defend the Constitution.”

What our country and our people need today is not a change of that Constitution by adapting the Federal system. What are needed are first, authentic and genuine change in the hearts and minds and values of our leaders to the end that they truly be genuine, authentic public servants or servant-leaders; second, that same kind or virtue of change in our people that they be at all times vigilant and assertive as the true and responsible masters of these public servants, and always unyielding to the whims and caprices of false or fake public servants, especially in these times of false news, fake news, post truths.

A shift to Federalism is a lethal experiment. A fatal leap. A plunge to death. A leap to hell. To paraphrase the book of Sirach (Chapter 2, verse 3) concerning sin, federalism is “a two-edged sword: when it cuts, there can be no healing.”

The Federal system of government is definitely not suited for our country and our people of our generation and even those of the succeeding generations. It cannot fit into our history, culture, character, traditions, beliefs, hopes, aspirations and longings, and even our idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. The best fitted for these is the unitary system, which has proven itself to be so.

Federalism cannot fit into our training and experiences in the art of politics, government, and governance. Only very few of our people have experienced how the Federal system works. They are the very few who have lived or worked in federal states, like the US or Canada, or who are assiduous political scientists or sociologists who have studied in theory the workings of Federalism.

Untried and untested in our country and by our people since we attained our independence on 12 June 1898 or 119 years ago – or even before that – Federalism would be a foreign invader or a stranger that would come not on its own conquering will and without gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It would come at our reckless and imprudent instance, instigated only by a few.

For the Philippines, the Federal system proposed in the three versions I mentioned earlier would be evolved by dividing, breaking up, splitting and fragmenting the country into various separate parts known as States or Regions. This is an anomalous procedure because it is an anomalous deviation from the historical and traditional mode of forming Federal States or governments. Under this mode, existing sovereign states would unite or agree to subordinate its governmental power to that of the central authority in specified common affairs (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th ed., 519); or, a federal government is a league or compact between two or more states, to become united under one central government (Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., 610). Thus the original separate sovereign states would become component states of the federal government.

How would the unitary Philippines be divided, broken up, split or fragmented? Let us examine the main features of the three proposals

In the Nene Pimentel version, the Philippines, to be known as the Federal Republic of the Philippines, would be divided into eleven (11) States [namely: the states of Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Minparom (Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Romblon, and Marinduque), Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro]; and one Federal Administrative Region composed of Metro Manila. The Federal State would be governed by a Federal Constitution, and would have Federal Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments. The Federal Legislative Department would be vested in the Federal Congress composed of the Senate of 75 members [with each State represented by six elected at large] and nine elected by overseas Filipino citizens; and the House of Representatives of not more than 350 members [elected from the various legislative districts in the various States].

The Federal Executive Department shall be headed by the President, with a Vice President, both of whom shall be elected as a team. A vote for the President shall be also counted for the Vice President.

Each of the eleven States composing the Federal State shall have an Executive Department, headed by the State Governor, with a Vice Governor, and a unicameral Legislative Department composed of three representatives from each province and each city located within the territorial boundaries of the States [elected by the Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Panlungsod from among their members], plus three representatives from the sectors of the farmers, fisherfolk, and the senior citizens.

In the Gonzales Proposal, the Federal State would be composed of Eighteen (18) Regions [namely, the National Capital Region, Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccksargen, Caraga, Bangsamoro]. Each Region is autonomous, equal, and sovereign [except to the extent that their sovereignty is limited by the Constitution and federal laws]. It shall have its own basic and organic law – meaning a Constitution.

The Federal Legislative Power is vested in a Congress composed of the Senate with a minimum of two and a maximum of six Senators from each Region; and the House of Representatives composed of one elective District Representative for each of the Legislative Districts apportioned by law among the provinces, cities, urbanized independent component cities and municipalities; and of party-list representatives to the extent of 20% of the total number of Representatives including those of the party-list.

The Federal Executive Department is vested in the President of the Federal Republic. There is a provision for Vice President.

As to the Eighteen (18) Regions comprising the Federal State, the Executive Power is vested in the Regional Governor elected by direct vote of the people in the Region. There is a Regional Vice-Governor. The Governor has the power to grant reprieves, commutation of sentence, and pardon.

The Regional Legislative Power is vested in the Regional Assembly composed of three Assembly Members from each province, from the highly urbanized independent city or municipality within the Region, plus sectoral members appointed by the Regional Governor for sectors representing labor, peasant farming, fisheries, and senior citizens.

Under the PDP-Laban Proposal, a parliamentary form of government is set up under a Federal system. The number of Regions or States to compose the Federal State is still undetermined; it is still under study. However, Regions or States are to be created by way of a plebiscite in the proposed Region, and until they are formally established, the Federal Government will exercise power over them.

The Federal Legislative Power is vested in the Parliament of the Federal Republic, which shall be composed of two Houses – the Federal Assembly as the National Legislative Department and the Senate. The Assembly shall be composed of not more than 400 Members [60% of whom shall be elected by plurality vote from each Legislative Electoral District and 40% by proportional representation by region for a political party with closed list of nominees]. The Senate shall be composed of three Senators from each Region. The Assembly shall elect a Speaker, and the Senate, its President.

The Executive Power is vested in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The Prime Minister is elected by the Assembly. He may be removed by a vote of no confidence by the Assembly. Upon the other hand, the Prime Minister may advise the President to dissolve the Assembly.

The President shall be the Head of State to be elected by direct vote of the people upon being nominated by at least 20% of all the Members of the Assembly who are members of a registered political party. He shall have a term of five years and may run for another term.

The President is even authorized to dissolve the Assembly for failure of Parliament to pass a budget for two successive plenary votes or for two successive majority votes of no confidence on the Prime Minister.

As to the Regional Government, there should first be an Organic Act. Below the Regional Governments would be local governments to be governed by the 1991 Local Government Code until the enactment of the Regional and Local Government Code.

The Judiciary is not even spared in this Federalization. While basically the Judicial Power as embodied in Article VIII of the present Constitution, substantive changes are proposed. In the Nene Pimentel version the Court of Appeals is abolished to be replaced by the Intermediate Appellate Court to be distributed to the various States. Divisions of the Sandiganbayan will be assigned to the component States. In the Gonzales version, the Court of Appeals is abolished and in its stead Regional Court of Appeals will be put up.

Eventually, there would be massive reorganizations of the Judiciary through laws defining and apportioning the jurisdiction of the various courts taking into account the needs of the component States or Regions resulting in the establishment of State or Regional lower courts.

Both the Pimentel and the Gonzales versions abolish the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). Appointments by the President of the Members of the Judiciary shall be taken from a list of at least three nominees prepared by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines approved by the Commission on Appointments in the Pimentel version and by the Federal Senate in the Gonzales version.

Similarly, the Constitutional Commissions would become Federal Constitutional Commissions (Audit, Civil Service, Elections). What would follow would be the establishment of States or Regional offices.

By the way, the three proposals retain the existing political subdivisions or local government units – autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.

This dividing, breaking up, splitting, fragmenting, and disconfiguring of the Philippines will not build a just and humane society and will not bring a harvest of harmony, development, progress, prosperity, peace, and stability. On the contrary, it would build and bring the opposite.

What then will happen and what shall we have under a Federal system? So many. But, let me just enumerate a few – just eighteen, so far.

            First, Federalism would divide our people and cultivate in them forced double loyalties: to the central federal government and to the States or Regional governments which shall have its own basic law or constitution, and ultimately own flag and anthem. In all government buildings we will have two flags. At flag ceremonies we will sing two anthems.

            Second, Federalism would create a horrible enlarged and bloated bureaucracy. From hereon I shall refer to this as the Federal Bureaucracy. This would be due to the establishments of new layers or strata of governmental authority or seats of power – the Federal or central government, the various component States or Regions and the existing political subdivisions, and the reorganizations of the Judiciary as well as the Constitutional Commissions.

            Third, under this Federal Bureaucracy, the poor would become poorer. Inevitably and unavoidably, the people would be burdened with more taxes of all kinds to support and maintain the Federal Bureaucracy. Some of you who had worked in some Federal republics know that a huge part of your income went to Federal and to State taxes.

Fourth, this Federal Bureaucracy carries with it the creation of more juicy elective positions which could guarantee fortune, fame, and power to shrewd politicians and their families. We shall have more political dynasties at the different strata.

            Fifth, I heard it before, and this keeps on ringing in my ears, that what would come if Federalism is erected is not actually Federalism but FEUDALISM. Indeed, the proliferation of political dynasties would increase the number of feudal States or Regions. My good friend and colleague in the 1986 Constitutional Commission, Christian Monsod, has already described most of Philippine society as “still feudalistic dominated by a ruling class that rotates among themselves the levers of power through changes in administration… The fact is that 1% of the families make the laws, dispense justice, implement programs, and control media” (Speech at the Social Justice and Human Development MINCODE National Conference, Ateneo de Davao University, 8 May 2015).

            Sixth, because Federalism breeds political dynasties and creates feudal societies, democracy would be at risk. In his latest book, Understanding Philippine Society, Culture and Politics (2017 ed., p. 246), the noted sociologist Professor Randy David said: “The reign of a few political dynasties, even if legitimized by elections, goes against the idea of democracy…viewed against the exigencies of today’s complex societies, political succession on the basis of lineage has got to be one of the biggest sources of societal dysfunction.”

            Seventh, the Federal bureaucracy with feudalism and political dynasties provide the greatest temptation to keep and maintain private armies to ensure perpetuation of power. Warlordism would be a necessary evil.

            Eighth, this Federal Bureaucracy would necessarily involve the creation of thousands of new non-elective positions or offices which will be filled up by thousands of warm bodies whose main credentials would be loyalty to politicians. A huge part of the government’s resources and income would be wasted for their salaries.  Continue reading