PPI organizes federalism seminars for journalists

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The Philippine Press Institute (PPI), also known as the national association of newpapers, in partnership with the Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance (PILG) and with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), a non-profit association funded mainly by the Federal Government of Germany, will conduct two seminar-workshops for journalists on Understanding Federalism in the Philippine Context on October 8-10 in Cagayan de Oro City for Mindanao media and October 11-13 in Manila for Luzon and NCR media.

The workshops aim to discuss the salient points of the draft charter on federalism, significant aspects and characteristics of a federal form of government, and various issues surrounding the proposed federalism such as the allocation of authority and power between national and state governments. taxation, and management and distribution of natural resources, to name a few. The Peace Process and Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will also be presented.

Thirty journalists for each leg are expected to participate in the two-day seminar whose program includes a group activity, a panel discussion, and a mini-press conference.

PPI executive director and trustee Ariel Sebellino said that the activity is the first ever media-initiated seminar-workshop for journalists that will focus on the draft charter. "We want to contribute to the discourse and in a way, educate the public and engage stakeholders for insightful discussion," he said. Sebellino added that there's more to it than just the pros and cons. "We are not promoting it or campaigning against it."

Former Senator Aquilino 'Nene' Pimentel Jr., regarded as the father of the Local Government Code, in support to the Proposed Recommendations of the Constitutional Committee for the Adoption of the Federal System of Government for the Republic of the Philippines, believes that both Christians and Muslims including the indigenous peoples will benefit from the federated regions. "I am confident that law and order, leading to peace and development will follow as a matter of course,” Pimentel.

He lauded the Constitutional Committee for its recommendations that "now place the right of our people to modernize our country and develop themselves at the doorsteps of the citizens of our Republic who are residing in the proposed Federated Regions".

Among the more outstanding provisions recommended for inclusion in the new Constitution, he said, are the articles that assure our people actual and speedy delivery of justice. "For delay in the delivery of justice is one of the most pressing problems of our land. And without justice, our living lives worthy of human beings would be impossible,” Pimentel added.

Pimentel will be the pro-federalism panelist in the Manila leg. Joining him in the panel are Malou Tiquia of Publicus Asia and Atty. Romel Bagares of the Center for International Law.

Goetz Heinicke, Resident Representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Philippines said that Filipinos have to decide whether or not federalism makes sense for the Philippines. "As a foreigner and visitor to this country, I cannot and I do not have to answer this question. But I am quite proud to come from Germany, a federal country, in which Bavaria, “my federal state,” has developed from the poorest state after WWII to the best, richest and most attractive one today, thanks to the Federal System that we introduced in our new Constitution in Germany after the war," he said.

Heinicke also believes that the shift to a federal system cannot be done by somebody alone and means hard work and engagement for everyone, especially for the civil society.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has declared his intention to change our current form of government to a federal form. A consultative committee was formed to study this option and elicit public support.

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