Dangers of federalism under Duterte regime ‘overflowing’ – De Lima

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has warned that the Duterte administration’s continued push for a change in the 1987 Constitution could lead to more power abuse, oppression and further societal division.

In her message during a forum on federalism at the Ateneo de Naga University last Oct. 3, De Lima renewed her opposition to a federal form of government under the Duterte regime, saying that its dangers are “overflowing, glaring and compelling.”

As such, she reminded future lawyers of the challenge to defend the rule of law by always being critical of the governmental decisions that have great consequences.

“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,” she said.

“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,” she added.

The message, entitled “Federalism: A Recipe for further Division and Disintegration of our Nation,” was read by Angela Jaemi Favorito Huit, Ateneo de Naga University Law Program Head, during a Lecture Series on “Federalism and its Ramifications Across the Nation,” at the Ateneo de Naga University last Oct. 3.

Highlighting the possible adverse effects of a federal form of government, De Lima asked, “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,” she added.

Note that under a federal form of government, a written constitution will divide power between a central government and regional or sub-divisional governments.

De Lima, a lawyer by profession, urged future lawyers to not be discouraged because the rule of law is at the brink of extinction, saying that they should let it fuel their love for the law instead.

“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,” she said.

The Senator from Bicol has always been firm on her stance that it is difficult to entrust any amendments or revisions on the Constitution to an administration that has shown susceptibility to abuse power and to allow impunity to prosper.

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