By Emmanuel G. Sumayang
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Leaders from different sectors shared their ideas on federalism, its benefits and challenges, during a forum organized by the Philosophy Department of Xavier University, through its Ateneo Philosophy Club (APC), dubbed “Knowledge is Power: A Forum on Federalism” on September 28 at the XU Nursing Amphitheatre.
Former Cagayan de Oro City mayor and Misamis Oriental assemblyman, lawyer Reuben Canoy, in his sharing, quoted Victor Hugo, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” He said that the right time has come for federalism. He added that President Rodrigo Duterte being a strong advocate of federalism, the shift in the form of government will have a greater chance of succeeding within his six-year term.
Representing the civil society, Balay Mindanaw Foundation president Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig encouraged the millennials to be well-informed on current affairs, particularly the impacts of federalism in the future of the country, should the shift succeed.
“We should create more spaces like this forum,” said Manlupig, adding that student groups should organize more events where people can freely exchange ideas.
Roderico Dumaug Jr, a faculty member of XU History/International Studies/Political Science Department, showed figures and statistics contrasting the revenue and expenditures between China and the Philippines. His analysis of the data led him to conclude that in the present unitary form of government in the Philippines, there is an unjust distribution of resources, which is currently favoring Metro Manila over the provinces and other cities in the country.
Another reactor during the open forum, Councilor Mario Cedeño of the Municipality of Talakag in Bukidnon, said that are bills that need to be passed into laws first before we amend the 1987 Constitution and federalize the Philippines. He believes that passing the Anti-political Dynasty Bill into a law and the institutionalization of the political party system in the country are necessary for a federal government’s efficiency.
Coming from the students, Aristeo Raphael Marbella III, president of the United Arts and Sciences Student Council, said that basic social services must be delivered by the government down to the grassroots level, where ordinary folks can benefit from the development.
He shared that in his stay in the United States, getting a driver’s license would only take about two weeks. But here in the Philippines, months are wasted before a qualified citizen can get one. This simple example, as Marbella puts it, shows that our present form of government is “faulty.”
This forum was organized in collaboration with the XU Social Development Office (SDO). Among the people in attendance were XU vice-president for social development Roel Ravanera, SDO advocacy coordinator Nestor Banuag Jr, College Arts and Sciences dean Dr. Juliet Dalagan, XU-Philo department chairperson Vicente Carbon, representatives from the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, philosophy teachers, majors, and other Xavier students.
Carbon ended the forum with his synthesis on the key points presented by the speakers and reactors, including the challenges and responses to the issue at hand.
The organizers of this activity are looking forward to setting up other fora to shed light on various subjects.