Press Release
October 8, 2018

Federalism: A Recipe for further Division and Disintegration of our Nation

Message on Federalism and its Ramifications
Across the Nation Lecture Series at the Alingal Hall,
Ateneo de Naga University Campus| 3 October 2018

(Delivered on her behalf by her Chief Political Officer, Mr. Aquinas Hermida)

Dios marháy na aldaw!

Today, allow yourselves to yearn for rhyme and reason. Let the insights of those who will speak before you trickle down your consciousness as you travel back in time, to your Constitutional Law classes. Knees shaking, voice cracking and heart pounding - trying to recall the pages you've so painstakingly labored to finish reading. Remember the words of Justice Sarmiento in Ganzon v. Court of Appeals,[1] where the Supreme Court - before it was infected by the plague that sweeps our homeland these days - said: "Autonomy does not, after all, contemplate making mini-states out of local government units... Autonomy, in the constitutional sense, is subject to the guiding star, though not control, of the legislature. It is also noteworthy that in spite of autonomy, the Constitution places the local government under the general supervision of the Executive."

Recall how in several instances, the gods of Padre Faura declared that local autonomy simply means decentralization, and that local government units are merely intra-sovereign subdivisions of one sovereign nation. And then flashbacks of the case of Basco v. PAGCOR[2] come rushing to your thoughts; that local government units cannot be an, - one of the first latin phrases you have come to memorize - : imperium in imperio (sovereign within a state).

The framers of the 1987 Constitution, together with the justices who penned those decisions are much wiser than those who now seek to alter our organic law, because they must have known that an archipelagic country already geographically divided, should not be further subjected to disunity that breeds divisiveness.

As learned students of the law, your minds have now been trained to question the ratio behind governmental decisions of transcendental importance that would affect the entire nation and generations yet to come. What is the ratio behind the efforts to overhaul the constitution? What evils will it create? What kind of future awaits the Filipino people at the end of this shift?

I avoid engaging in public discourses on charter change/federalism, but of course I cannot help deviating, but only in few exceptional cases as to this one. Lest my silence be taken as a surrender, allow me to declare here and now that my position on the matter is absolute. No to Federalism especially under this current set of leaders. No, especially because the dangers are overflowing, glaring and compelling.

What happens to regions who are as not as agriculturally gifted as the others? They could be left behind, slowly rotting away into their demise, without a central government to ensure their rise. Hostilities among ethnic groups could worsen if the national government would no longer be an omnipresent force to neutralize the situation. Political Dynasties whose vigor will be fortified by the impunity that devolution provides, would flourish as they rob the poor of services and benefits that rightfully belong to them. Oligarchs will pursue their own interests, unmindful of the widespread effects on the nation. The huge budgetary implications on the country amidst inflation, are overwhelmingly debilitating, that we would be better off fed to the lions.

Why then should we allow our country to be dismembered, our people to be alienated from each other, and our leaders to thrive in impunity?

Our dear future lawyers, in the confines of my detention center, I weep with all of you. This government has failed you - a hundred times over. The President of this land and those he placed in office, who should offer you inspiration, have instead taken every opportunity to sacrilege the laws you all spend sleepless nights to master.

The jurisprudential declarations beautifully written by the olden courts that you memorize for hours on end, have been twisted, manipulated, and overturn for the benefit of the few. The institutions that you will soon take an oath to defend are collapsing, one after the other - only to accommodate the selfish desires of those who desecrate our country in exchange for their own personal motives.

I cannot blame you if you will go back and forth trying to make sense of all of it. But please, do not give up on our nation. We will soon rise from this, and hold accountable those who have wantonly, flagrantly and despotically destroyed the faith of our countrymen on our laws.

So please, I beg of you, hold your books, codals and case binders ever closer to your chests for you will soon march to the frontline of this battle against those who falsely - and so wrongly - believe that tyranny and despotism will forever reign. For their rule is not perpetual, not with all of us whose eyes remain open to the wrongs they incessantly commit, are steadfast in defending our motherland from them who do nothing but bring our nation to ruins.

We will not give in to the forces that silence us, even under pain of political persecution. We will be unnerved by the darkness that envelopes our country, even if standing up for what is just and lawful would mean wrongful incarceration. Now more than ever, our Filipino brothers and sisters need our unbridled courage to let the rule of law to prevail.

May you never tire to question the unconstitutionality of the steps taken to whitewash the wrongs this administration have so capriciously committed. And may you continue to enthusiastically dream of becoming honorable members of the Philippine Bar.

Do not be discouraged because the rule of law is at the brink of extinction, let it instead fuel your love for the law. Listen more intently to the wisdom of your professors whose knowledge of the law far outweighs that of those in seats of power - who thoughtlessly revoke, reverse and rescind constitutional and legal pronouncements - to tickle their evil fancy. Spend more time with your books and codals so that you can rewrite history, mend what they have broken and create a better, stronger and more unified Philippines. Stay passionate in your quest for justice, and persevere even more to be the noble lawyers that our country deserves.

Thank you for your attention.

Dios mabalos!


[1] G.R. No. 93252 (August 5, 1991)
[2] G.R. No. 91649 (May 14, 1991)

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