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Friday, December 9, 2016

Federalism gains foothold in Philippines







Hugpong Federal Movement pictorials. (Mindanao Examiner Photos - Ely Dumaboc)

THE HUGPONG FEDERAL MOVEMENT or HFM continues to reap praises as it goes around the country promoting federalism in support to President Duterte’s strong advocacy of shifting the Philippines to federated states. 
Benedikt Seemann, Country Representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung or KAS in the Philippines, also expressed elation and support on the movement’s advocacy following a recent meeting with HFM officials led by its national secretary Virgilio dela Cruz, Mayor Hadar Hajiri of Sulu’s Lugus town, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees; and lawyer Joel Obar, its legal counsel at the KAS headquarters in Makati City. 
Seemann said: “I am very happy to see that there is a movement in the Philippines that's does not only care about drafting a precise constitution for a federal Philippines to bring it up to the high level decision makers, but that there is a movement to bring it down to the people, to the grass root level because in the 12th largest country in the world, you cannot implement massive change if the 100 million people who are living there do not have the knowledge or the tools or the access to decision making to be participating there that’s why I am very glad that the movement exists and is providing knowledge for the people and the change that is to come.”
He said: “Federalism can help as a tool to provide a better structure of government that is not only because you drew new lines on the map but because federalism help create equal opportunities all over the country, and with equal opportunities you can fight poverty and regional differences in the country, so you can provide for better structure of government that provides for a better standard of living.”
Seemann said KAS has been in the Philippines for 52 years now and “it is our very belief we try to support reforms in the country and we try to help local partners to develop good governance and good reforms and we are very happy that after 52 years that there is now the chance for meaningful reforms in terms of federalism in the Philippines.”
Obar said they were also happy with how Seemann and KAS expressed its strong support to the HFM advocacy in promoting federalism in the Philippines.
“We are very happy because we were able to forge a partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung foundation and they opened the doors of their offices for us to make proposals so we have already undertaken initial steps to frame this up in consonance to their programs on people empowerment and development down to the grass root level. So magandang oportunidad ito for us to advance the advocacy on federalism.”
“Sa ngayon, umaangat na tayo, but hindi pa rin natin iniwanan yung grass root level kasi marami pa rin tayong dapat maabot, but even as we do that to people on the ground, tumitingin na rin tayo ngayon sa iba pang mga oportunidad to make this into a global opportunity or international opportunity and that is the reason why we work so hard to connect with different groups such as the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung,” he said.
Obar said HFM and the Philippines have a lot to learn from Germany being a federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe and have 16 constituent states with about 82 million inhabitants and making it the most populous member state of the European Union. “Marami tayong malalaman or matututunan from the German model kaya yun na ang ginagawa natin at nagpapasalamat tayo sa Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung,” he said.
KAS is a political foundation situated in Sankt Augustin near Bonn, and also in Berlin. It has 16 regional offices and two conference centers in Germany which offer a wide variety of civic education conferences and events. Its offices abroad are in charge of over 200 projects in more than 120 countries. And as a think-tank and consulting agency, it soundly researched scientific fundamental concepts and current analyses which are meant to offer a basis for possible political action. 
Dela Cruz, Hajiri and Obar also met with Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF in Manila and discussed about federalism. Misuari is also a strong advocate of federalism.
Dr Sammy Adju, the MNLF’s chairman for global diplomacy and peace advocacy, was also present during the meeting and said Misuari has been advocating federalism for many decades now. He also welcomes KAS advocacy and praised the movement for its continued promotion of federalism across the country.
He said Hajiri’s untiring advocacy in Sulu and elsewhere speaks truly of his strong support to federalism just like Misuari. “The initiative of the good Mayor Hadar Hajiri is in line with the advocacy of Chairman Nur Misuari,” Adju said.
Obar said the meeting with Misuari was an opportunity to further widen their perspective on federalism and to know the history of the Muslim people and their struggle in Mindanao.
“The meeting with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari is another step forward kasi person to person natin na meet si Chairman Misuari so nalaman natin ang history of the struggle of the Moro people. Hopefully yung mga nalaman natin kay Chairman Nur Misuari ay maisama natin sa movement natin na federalism at mukhang sang-ayon na rin or pabor na rin si Chairman Misuari sa federalism kasi napansin ko sa kanya na pagod na rin siya sa giyera, nakita ko na marami na ang mga namatay sa struggle na ito, and I have seen in his eyes na he wants this war to end during President Duterte’s term,” he said.
Obar also appealed to the public to continue its support to federalism until it is fully achieved.
“To all the members of Hugpong Federal Movement, and even to other organizations at maging ang mga small initiatives, let us continue organizing and propagating, educating the people about federalism kasi ito na lamang ang sistema na ibinigay ng Diyos sa atin para makuha ang tunay na kalayaan.”
For his part, Hajiri said Duterte’s push for a federal form of government has empowered the Filipinos to join in advocating a change in the present form of government. He said in the recent 3rd ARMM LGUs Summit in Davao City, Duterte stressed the need for Congress to pass a law that would change the current form of government into federal.
“Isa sa binigyang diin ng Pangulo ay ang mapabilis ang pagpasa ng federalismo sa bansa sa loob ng tatlong taon mula nang siya ay makapanumpa bilang Pangulo ng bansa, na siyang pinaniniwalaang lulutas sa malalang suliranin ng terorismo, extremism, droga, at korapsyon. Sa mga talumpati ng Pangulo, nilinaw nito na ang pagbabago ng sistemang pang-gobyerno mula sa presidential form of government papunta sa federalismo ang tanging lunas o gamot sa suliranin ng bansa lalo na sa Mindanao,” Hajiri said.
He said only Duterte can save the country and its people from its ills and a federal form of government is the solution to all these problems. “Tanging ang administrasyon lamang ni Pangulong Duterte ang makakapagpabago sa buhay ng mga Pilipino lalo na kung maging federal form of government na ang Pilipinas,” the mayor said. (Ely Dumaboc)

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