Federalism: Massacre of the LGUs?

Manila Bulletin, August 18, 2018 | Go to article overview

Federalism: Massacre of the LGUs?


OPINION

By HILARIO G. DAVIDE JR.

Former Chief Justice

But what the Consultative Committee produced is not just a Federal Republic of the Philippines thru the division, breaking up, partitioning, splitting, dismembering of the one united nation known

as the Philippines into 18 Federated Regions composed of the 16 existing Administrative Regions and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Federated Region of the Cordilleras, with provisions that would strictly adhere to the traditional federal set-up. The committee went beyond and farther yet. It overhauled our 1987 Constitution through massive re-structuring, reorganization, revamp, or surgery. In the process, it even incorporated undemocratic provisions, principles, and concepts spiced with some elements of fascism and totalitarianism. It builds a dictatorship. It erects a weak democracy, made weaker yet by elitism and the creation of more feudal states which would ultimately be easily controlled by political dynasties. It is anti-Filipino, anti-people, anti-poor.

Let me first show you how this draft Constitution looks like. If approved, it would be the longest Constitution the Philippines will ever have. It has 22 articles, excluding the Preamble. Our 1987 Constitution has only 18 articles.

It is contained in 105 pages of short bond paper, excluding two unnumbered pages for the signatures of the chairman and the members, written single-space in very fine print or font. This does not yet include two ordinances to be appended to it, namely, (1) the ordinance on the composition of the federated plus the regions and (2) the ordinance consisting of the Organic Act of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region approved by the President and ratified by the people concerned. With these ordinances, the Constitution would be four or five times longer.

In any overhauling, reorganization, restructuring, revamp, or surgery of the government, especially if done thru revision of the Constitution or Charter Change, institutions and people have to be sacrificed either because the revised Constitution has abolished the institutions or positions to which they were elected or appointed, or they are to be reorganized out.

You may be shocked to know that the Local Government Units and all the officials elected or appointed to these LGUs - of course, including you - would be among those who will be sacrificed. You would be among the first martyrs of the Charter Change or on this shift to federalism.

As you can see the draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee even if it has four more articles than our present 1987 Constitution does not reproduce, wholly or even partly, Article X on LOCAL GOVERNMENT of the latter. I earlier discussed thoroughly the salient features of this article. I also stated that this Article X of our 1987 Constitution implements and enforces Section 25 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution - the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies, which for emphasis I read again:

"The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments."

Unfortunately for you and all those elected under the Local Government Code, the draft Consultative Committee Constitution has replaced Article X (Local Government) of the 1987 Constitution with a new one entitled FEDERATED REGIONS, THE BANGSAMORO, AND THE FEDERATED REGION OF THE CORDILLERAS. This is Article XI of the draft. It does not mention the 1991 Local Government Code. The Consultative Committee may explain that the 1991 Local Government Code shall remain valid under the provision of Sec. 11 of Article XX (Transitory Provisions) of the draft which states that: "All laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, rules, regulations, letters of instructions, and other executive and judicial issuances not inconsistent with the Constitution shall remain valid until amended or replaced."

But, I tell you that there is nothing more inconsistent with the draft Constitution than by complete deletion of the Article on Local Government (Article X) of the present Constitution and substituting it with another Article on Federated Regions. …

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