PRESIDENTIAL Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said federalism may be an instrument to correct the wrongs committed by the government against the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples.
“In fact, and as you have already know, the constitutional change to create a federal form of government has been an integral component of the Bangsamoro roadmap under his administration’s six-point peace and development agenda,” Dureza said in a statement read in a forum on federalism in Makati on Wednesday.
The statement, read by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Jose Lorena, said the constitutional reforms ran side-by-side with the peace agreements that previous administrations had entered into with the Moro fronts and other Bangsamoro stakeholders.
“With this already in the pipeline, the proposed Bangsamoro entity can be envisioned as our pilot case study of the workings of a federal state government,” Dureza said.
“As an offshoot thereto, federalism may correct the previous wrongdoings committed against Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and a myriad of indigenous communities in the Philippines,” he added.
Dureza said federalism could be “a just and lasting redress for the powerless, dispossessed, and disenfranchised brought by the forceful submission of foreign powers and majority culture.”
The Duterte administration has been pushing for a shift from a unitary to a federal system of government that has a central government and a number of federal states.
This shift requires a change in the Philippine Constitution as it presently mandates a unitary form of government.
Dureza warned that efforts to change the system of government will be useless if Filipinos will remain divided due to cultural, economic, and political backgrounds.
In shifting to a federal form of government, Dureza said the big question is not “why” the change must be adopted but “how” to integrate the different values of all Filipinos and how to make federalism work.
He said that the shift to federalism must acknowledge the regional differences among Filipinos.
“We are Filipinos but we are also Ilocanos, Dabawenos, Bikolanos, Cebuanos, Bangsamoro and so forth,” Dureza said.
“We must afford each other the democratic space and freedom to be Tagalogs, Ilonggos, Bisayas, Tausugs, all the beautiful, separate, but equal composites of this archipelago,” he added.
The Philippines has two autonomous regions: the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in Northern Luzon and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the southern part of the country.
Dureza said, “Our 1987 Philippine Constitution afforded these groups the creation of two autonomous regions – one in Cordillera and another in Muslim Mindanao.”