UniversityRepresentatives discuss implications, youth’s role on proposed Charter Change
Representatives discuss implications, youth’s role on proposed Charter Change
February 2, 2019
February 2, 2019

A discussion titled Law of the Nation: A Forum on the Proposed Charter Change was held last February 1 at rooms 507 to 509 of the Yuchengco Hall. Organized by One La Salle for Human Rights and Democracy along with the Theology and Religious Education Department, the talk shed light on the debate surrounding the recently passed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15 which seeks to shift the country’s government into a federal system.

Kabataan Partylist representative Sarah Elago and Raoul Manuel, a former student leader from University of the Philippines Visayas, were invited as guest speakers to the event who each gave their take on federalism.

 

 

Contentions against RBH 15

With Congress planning to resume discussions on Charter Change as early as February 8, different sectors have come together opposing the resolution. Elago narrated that during the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte, different groups gathered together to call for action on more relevant issues instead of pushing for federalism. She further stated that pressing problems such as poverty, extrajudicial killings, and farmers’ rights were in return being neglected.

Instead of responding to those issues, she claimed that the House of Representatives put Charter Change on high priorityin Elago’s own words, federalism was “railroaded”. Discussions on issues which would greatly affect the country’s future, she argued, typically takes months or years to settle; the RBH 15 draft was approved on its third and final reading a week after the second, and after only three sessions of plenary debates.

According to Elago, another unfolding issue in the House of Representatives is the inclusion of P300-billion in pork barrel funds to the 2019 national budget. Unfortunately, she pointed out, RBH 15 institutionalizes this fund allocation as part of the constitution, but argued that congressmen did not need to have their own pork fund because the responsibility of executing projects should fall under the executive departments instead.

Manuel on the other hand, painted a more economic picture on the state of the country and claimed that “Job generation has been the worst since the Marcos Era.” He also shed light on the income inequality that is rampant in the country, stressing that “most economic activity is concentrated in the [National Capital Region] and Region IV-A.”

Contrary to what some believe, Manuel purported that the proposed Charter Change would not solve any of these economic problems. In his presentation, he asserted that “federalism does not equal development,” and to back his claim, he pointed out non-federalist countries such as South Korea prospering despite not being federalist.

 

 

Call to action

Concluding that RBH 15 would do little good, both speakers urged the youth to oppose the bill. In her speech, Elago called for the audience to fight Duterte’s proposed Charter Change. Additionally, she encouraged the audience to take note of the provisions being proposed by Congress. “People should bring in progressive politics and not merely follow those in power,” she argued.

Meanwhile, Manuel believed that Charter Change being proposed under RBH 15 is not beneficial, and that people should oppose its passing. In particular, voters should be vigilant in knowing the senatorial candidates for the upcoming elections, as the Senate, and those who will eventually fill the seats post-election, will be the last arbiters on the passing of RBH 15.