News and Events

SAS holds Forum on Federalism

The School of Arts and Sciences held a Forum on Federalism last September 5, 2018 at the PGN Auditorium. The guest speakers were distinguished in the field of constitutional law and governance namely: DLSU College of Law Founding Dean, Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno, Former Congressman, Atty. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, and Peace Educator, Ms. Theresa Limpin.

The three speakers effectively discussed the interconnectedness of the most pressing issues in Philippine society today; human rights, justice, peace, charter change, and the shift to a Federal form of government.

Dean Diokno discussed the importance of rights-based governance in upholding human dignity and social justice. He elucidated the audience on how the flaws in the Philippine justice system has led to the rampant nature of crime and corruption in the Philippines. The extremely low conviction rates (30%), snail pace litigation (6 to 10-20 years), congested courts (30-60 cases per day), high vacancy rates (20%-34%), overcrowded prisons (605% congestion rate), inadequate budget (2%), the lack of a case tracking system, and the courts’ bad public image are the problems that plague our justice system. Many of these problems, however, have their roots in the Martial Law era instituted by former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Through the Letter of Instruction (LOI) No.11 issued by Marcos on September 29, 1972 and the Transitory Provisions (Sec 9 & 10) of 1973 Constitution, then President Marcos could relieve any government official including judges and justices in the Supreme Court at will. Thus, from 1972 to 1986, Marcos could remove any judge at any time, with or without cause.

Atty. Erin Tañada, on the other hand, discussed the relevance of a charter change at this present time. He noted that every administration from the time of President Ramos attempted to change the constitution, but failed. He dissected the role of the Constitutional Commission headed by ex-CJ Reynato Puno and compared it to the ConCom that drafted the 1986 Constitution. He noted that compared to the 1986 ConCom, the Puno Commission lacks representation form different sectors of society and, because of this, may not reflect the true sentiments of the Filipino nation. He then proceeded to discuss the merits and demerits of a Federal form of government that all boiled down to the question of “How prepared are we to make the shift to a Federal state?”

The type of Federalism proposed by the Puno ConCom is a Presidential/Federal state with a bicameral legislature (Senate and House) composing of 2 senators per region and a 400 member House (60% by districts and 40% proportional representation), and a president-vice President tag team (belonging to the same party). There shall also be a Federal Supreme Court, Federal Constitutional Court, Federal Administrative Court, and Federal Electoral Court, as well as Regional Supreme Courts and Regional Appellate Courts in addition to the lower courts. In addition to Provincial Governors are Regional Governors and Deputy Governors. All these additional offices will entail costs and will be shouldered by taxpayers’ money.

Lastly, Prof. Limpin talked about how violence can be masked or indirect in form. That violence can manifest not only in the form of killings and lack of peace and order but also in the form of hunger, suffering, and deprivation of basic human rights. She stressed that “If we are to work for peace, we must recognize the presence of violence in its many forms.” She added that the best way to work for peace is not by retreating into safety but by asserting the citizens’ rights, defending their freedom, and fighting injustice.

The event was co-sponsored by Holy Angel University Teachers and Employees Union (HAUTEU), the SAS College Student Council, Philippine Campaign Against Tyranny (PCAT), and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND). It was covered by CLTV36 and the Pampanga Press Club.

Date Posted: 09-26-2018