Recalling the act of defiance that triggered the civil rights movement in the United States in 1955, former senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr. urged his audience of Ateneo Law students to be more vocal on issues affecting the country today.
“Not everything that the government is doing is necessarily right,” he told the students, reminding them of their duty as Filipino citizens to speak out on issues. “The rights of our people must be asserted even if there is a price to pay. If that is what it takes then it is necessary that we do it. If you favor extra judicial killings, you say it. If you don’t, speak up. It is necessary for the people to be heard.”
The former Senate president was the keynote speaker at the “Ateneo Good Governance Forum: The Road to Federalism,” a forum held September 14, 2016 at the Ateneo Professional Schools campus in Rockwell, Makati City. Organized by the Teehankee Center for the Rule of Law, the forum aimed to inspire dialogue among government policy makers, the public sector, and the academe.
Pimentel, who served in the Philippine Senate from 1987- 1992 and 1998 - 2010, is a prime mover of federalism in the country.
In his speech, Pimentel said that federalism will “diffuse the overconcentration of power in the hands of the central government.” A federal form of government, he said, would accelerate the delivery of services throughout the country. “I know for a fact that the development of a country can really be more efficient if we further ‘de-concentrate’ more powers from the central government to the local units.”
The Philippines presently follows a unitary government where authority lies in a central government. In this kind of government system, power rests on a single entity - a national government. Pimentel said that a unitary system results in an imbalance in the distribution of resources among local government units.
A federal system, on the other hand, distributes power evenly to local government units. Power does not rest with the national government; rather it is shared with local government units. In his presentation, Pimentel proposed that the Philippines be distributed into 11 federal states: 4 in Luzon, 4 in the Visayas, and 3 in Mindanao. Power would be dispersed among the 3 regions.
Under Pimentel’s proposal, the country would still have a president and vice president. However, unlike the present system where the president and vice president may not be from the same political party, Pimentel strongly advocates that the president and vice president be elected as a team. This, he reasoned, would lead to a better working relationship between the 2 leaders.
The Ateneo Good Governance Forum was the first in the center’s forum series. Upcoming topics will be on labor law and tax reforms.
Listen to Pimentel's talk.