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Now federalism has our attention

THE “I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede, i-pede, pede, pede, pederalismo” information video prepared by Mocha Uson may have drawn a great deal of criticism for being “vulgar,” “lewd,” “filthy,” and “disgusting,” but it has certainly drawn attention to federalism in many sectors of the nation where there was none before.

Only one of four Filipinos – 25 percent – were aware of the proposal to shift to a federal system of government, according to the last quarterly survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS) last June. The rest – 75 percent – said they only found out about it when they were answering the survey.

This has been a time of so many urgent issues pressing on our people – rising prices, the continuing drive on drugs with so many arrests along with fatalities, the President’s theological exchange with religious leaders, the floods, the dismissal of so many officials, the change in leadership in the House of Representatives, etc. With these in the headlines, federalism has been largely pushed to the periphery of national attention.

In the midst of all these crucial issues came the video prepared by Assistant Secretary Uson of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, apparently the first move in a R90-million information campaign to get the people to understand the issues and win them over to the idea of federalism.

The video has certainly attracted wide attention, negative thus far, but attention nevertheless. Succeeding efforts – public forums, media articles, community meetings, class discussions, debates, etc. – must now focus on the concept of federalism and the various side issues that have come up in the move to revise the Constitution.

These issues include the national territory, human rights, martial law, political dynasties, turncoatism, foreign investments, livelihood and employment opportunities, amendment via Constituent Assembly, etc. So many complications are involved in all these discussions. We could simplify matters by adopting the American system of one amendment at a time, to allow for focused discussion on just one issue, instead of our practice of changing entire constitutions.

The move to revise our present 1987 Constitution and give the country a federal system of government is being pushed by President Duterte, principally to give the outlying regions of the country, especially the Moro region of Mindanao, greater opportunity to develop and progress.

Now that the Mocha Uson video has drawn widespread attention to the idea of federalism, the various matters of dynasties, turncoatism, human rights, etc., as well as the very issue of whether we need to replace our present Constitution at all, should be given the widest discussion in the coming months.