UP President Alfredo Pascual, Up Mindanao Chancellor Sylvia Concepcion, UPAA-Davao Chairperson Atty. Marie Glenn Sorila, UP Vice-president for Academic Affairs Gisela Concepcion, Dr. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, and Dr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana
A symposium on Mindanao issues and federalism has gathered experts, conveners, and University of the Philippines alumna and students in an afternoon filled with compelling discussions and delightful sharing of political opinions.
The symposium was organized by the University of Mindanao on October 15 aimed to present the Mindanao situation that provoked the clamor for federalism, its transition process, and salient preconditions. But to complete the picture and to give the audience, especially the student participants, a profound and unreserved understanding of federalism, the oppositions to federalism were also presented.
The first part of the symposium was headed by the university president himself, Mr. Alfredo E. Pascual, as he presented the report about the changes, system reforms and new advancements in terms of physical improvements of the university’s facilities.
The second part was the talk on Mindanao issues and federalism lead by the three key note speakers, mainly, Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo a recipient of the 2016 UP Alumnus Award, Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana the president of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute, and the third one was a representative to read retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente C. Mendoza’s paper entitled “Federalism is not the Answer”. The article was read by Atty. Marie Glenn Sorila on his behalf.
Dr. Rasul talked about the historical wounds and the socio-economic inequalities experienced by the Mindanao-ans. She also briefly discussed the Islamic history and culture that predominated the Philippines even before the coming of the first colonizers, which she said only reinforced and duly affirmed President Duterte’s earlier statement regarding Muslims as the first to establish government in the Philippines.
Mr. Lorenzana talked about federal-parliamentary as a new political structural paradigm. He stressed the importance of satisfying the preconditions to federalism first, which included the establishment of real political parties, the passage of Anti-Dynasty Law and the Freedom of Information Bill, and electoral reforms. Furthermore, he discussed the three steps towards shifting from unitary-presidential system to a federal-parliamentary form of government.
A paper entitled, “Federalism is not the Answer”, by retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente C. Mendoza was read by Atty. Marie Glenn Sorila, the UPAA-Davao chairperson. Atty. Sorila presented the impediments to federalization such as problems in amending the constitution and the lack of mechanisms stipulated therein to aid the process of transition from unitary-presidential to federal-parliamentary form of government.
Questions regarding federalism, its viability and process, were answered during an open forum after the discussions of the three keynote speakers.