Philippine Daily Inquirer
Davide: Federalism is no new paradise
CEBU CITY— Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide on Thursday warned about efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution, saying the proponents of federalism were promising a false paradise.
Speaking at a Senate hearing here presided over by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Davide said Charter change would only benefit politicians.
“I hope our people may be able to fully understand what is it all about and not to be hoodwinked into believing in the new ‘paradise’ that proponents of the Charter change promised them,” the retired chief magistrate said.
“The ‘ new paradise’ is not for the people. It is for politi- cians who seek power, fortune and fame, and to perpetuate themselves in power,” he added.
Fifteen speakers from various sectors aired their views on the proposed Charter change and the shift to federalism.
“The issue (of Charter change) concerns every Filipino and not just politicians,” said Pangilinan, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes.
Echoing Davide, former party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said the proposed Charter change was “dangerous because it would mean the oversight powers of the President would include the legislative and judiciary.”
“I don’t think the Constitution is the problem. Rather, it is the implementation and the preference of our politicians,” said lawyer Baldomero Estenzo, dean of the University of Cebu’s College of Law.
Lawyer Jose Glenn Capanas, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter, said there was no need to amend the Charter, a sentiment echoed by Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez of Pagtambayayong Foundation-Cebu who said many provisions in the proposal were “dangerous.”
“Our problem is not caused by the 1987 Constitution but by self-interest and the avarice of most of our politicians,” said lawyer Democrito Barcenas of the Free Legal Assistance Group-Cebu Chapter.
But Tuburan town Mayor Democrito Diamante, the president of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines Cebu Chapter, said the present form of government was too focused on a centralized government.
“A unitary system is also susceptible to uneven development where some parts are more developed than most,” he said.
Dalaguete Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante cited the uneven distribution of funds, and said that “local government units should get at least 60 percent of government revenues.”
Former Cebu Gov. Emilio Osmeña registered his support for the shift to federalism, saying it would provide “freedom and ensure unprecedented prosperity.”
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), meanwhile, welcomed the work of the consultative commission on Charter change headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as a “positive step.”
“We pray that it will work independently and judiciously and that the preservation of human rights and the protection of our sovereignty and patrimony shall be paramount in its deliberations and ultimate proposals,” the NCCP statement said.—