September 8, 2016
To our venerable guest speakers, Atty. Rodelio Dascil, Director General of Senate Tax Study and Research Office, and Atty. Gilbert Morandarte, dean of the University of Nueva Caceres; to my wife, Atty. Marion Legacion, and to her colleagues in Federacion International de Abogadas who sponsored this event; to Atty. Manuel Torrecampo and our partners in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; to our gracious school host, the Universidad de Sta. Isabel, administration, faculty and students; to our participants from the tertiary schools in Naga, Dios marhay na aga sa gabos.
This forum, At the Cross-Road: Straight to Unitary or Change to Federalism, is initiated by Federacion International de Abogadas-Camarines Sur Chapter, headed by its president, Atty. Marion Legacion. But, due to its timeliness and importance to society, it has solicited help and cooperation of many institutions – the City Government of Naga, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the University of Nueva Caceres College of Law, the Universidad de Sta. Isabel and the other tertiary schools in the city under our Sangguniang Panlungsod Student Participation Program.
Indeed, we are presently at the cross-road. Our chief executive, President Rodrigo Duterte, is keen on pushing federalism to be our new form of government. He has expressly stated this vision in no less than his State of the Nation Address.
Of course, when legislators of the 17th Congress received the message at the at the very beginning of their session, no doubt, there have already been moved to amend our Philippine Constitution in line with the President’s desire. In fact, there are already proposals that we can hear in media.
But, the key, however, in any conversion of our government set-up is the people. The people shall be the final arbiter whether or not we will go straight to unitary or we change to federalism. It is our votes in a plebiscite that will be the deciding factor, amidst debates and rhetoric in Congress and despite the wish of the president.
Thus, today, we will learn the pros and cons of a unitary government and a federal government. We will discover the opportunities and the risks of having one from the other. Unawareness and doubts may be settled here and now. We encourage everyone who has questions to avail of the open forum at the end of the talk of our speakers.
Let us keep an open and critical mind, and let us be sure that, at the end of the day, it is that open and critical mind that will decide and vote. Let us remember that the government, as cliché as it goes, is for the people, of the people and, emphasis on, by the people.
Sa ulayan nin Federalismo, mawot mi na an kada Nagueno, makiaram, magpartisipar asin mag-antabay. Liwat, Dios marhay na aga sa gabos.