CALAMBA CITY, Laguna, November 6 (PIA) - More than fifty participants composed of media practitioners, government information officers and academe members from the Calabarzon region recently gathered here for a Media Forum on Federalism.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government Region 4A, in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency Region 4A (PIA 4A), led the forum held at the Paseo Premiere Hotel in Sta. Rosa City last October 24.
The event that marked the commencement of the two-day Federalism Roadshow in Calabarzon, served as a venue to clear out misinformation and orient the media and communicators from the government and academic sectors of the facts on Federalism.
Communicators are seen as partners of the current Administration in relaying to the public the correct information and understanding about having a Federal System.
"The issue of Federalism involves all stakeholders. Your presence is an indication of the need for collaboration between the government and the media as partners in disseminating information on the ground," said PIA4A Regional Director Ma. Cristina C. Arzadon in her welcome remarks as she recognized the significant role of stakeholders in intensifying public awareness on the proposed shift to a Federal Government.
Sec. Gary B. Olivar of the Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reform (CFCR) talked about the background and fundamentals of Federalism to enlighten the participants.
Federalism, he said, is a form of government where sovereignty is constitutionally shared between a central authority and states or regions. The National Government will focus on national interests such as foreign relations, national security, and monetary policy while the autonomous regions or states will be responsible for the delivery of public goods and social services, and of local economic development.
"Understandably people are worried about immediate issues like the rise in prices, rice problem, and inflation, among others, but eventually we will see that Federalism has a big part in establishing a long term solution to this short term problem," Olivar added.
He explained that the government continues with the information campaign on Federalism in the midst of urgent problems faced by Filipinos because in the long term it is one of the important ways to stabilize and grow the economy faster and to resolve issues in food, prices, and inflation.
According to Olivar, the Philippines had been left behind among the Asian countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product and infrastructure in the past years. It is also said to be unique for being the only country in Asia that failed to halve poverty in 25 years from 1990 to 2015.
With this, he pointed out that the proposed Federal System could cure this long time concern since the decentralization of power and budget to states or regions will capacitate them to fast track economic and infrastructure developments within their jurisdiction.
Lawyer Susan U. Ordinario, one of the members of the Consultative Committee tasked to Review the 1987 Constitution, on the other hand, expressed her gratitude to the media practitioners of Calabarzon region as she recognized them as partners in countering the spread of fake news about Federalism.
"The President directed us to work independently and do what we think will be best for our country and people," she said
She pointed out that the committee came up with the proposed Federal Constitution not because the 1987 Constitution is a bad constitution; it is actually the best constitution for its time.
However, she said, that anything made by man needs to be updated and upgraded every now and then as we have witnessed the inveterate problems of the system from administration to administration.
"What we have seen as solution to these longstanding problems is having a structural change," Ordinario added.
She compared it with a house pestered and damaged by termites that needs to be reconstructed. In the case of the Constitution, it needs a structural change.
"It is not true that the only problem is the one in the position with all the years that have passed, it can't only be because of a person and it is impossible that all of them are bad."
She explained that structures affect behavior given the example of Filipinos not following traffic rules in Manila, while, they do follow traffic rules whenever they are abroad or in Subic, for instance.
Ordinario also tackled the salient features of the Draft Federal Constitution comprised of the structure and distribution of powers of the State Government and Federated Regions; the economic, social and political reforms; the national territory; state policies and principles; constitutional bodies; and transition provisions. (Joy Gabrido, PIA4A)