Retired SC Justice: Think twice before shifting to federalism

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza said while there is a need to change the Constitution, lawmakers must think twice before shifting to federalism as it will weaken and fragment the Republic.

At the resumption of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes hearing on Thursday, Mendoza said federalism will intensify regional differences, promote patronage politics and political dynasties.

"A shift to a federal system will weaken our Republic and render naught the years spent to attain national unity," Mendoza said.

He added there is also a strong tendency that villages will be ruled by tyrants and dictators.

Mendoza also said he wants the provisions on the Commission on Human Rights amended to make it more independent.

He clarified that the Constitution states the Senate and House of Representatives must discuss the move jointly but vote separately.

Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the Constitution, said it doesn't matter whether the amendments are coursed through constitutional convention or constitutional assembly, as the problem lies with the legislators who slept on the job for thirty years to fully implement the law.

Monsod also questioned why federalism was not included in the Philippine Development Plan of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) if it was so critical.

He also said all the problems prioritized by President Rodrigo such as illegal drugs can be addressed without changing the Constitution.

"Federalism, decentralization, parliamentarism, are means. It is the end that drive the means, not the other way around," Monsod said.

Department of Interior and Local Management Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, however, said their studies showed federalism is the highest form of decentralization.

He told critics to stop creating and propagating fear among people as their only intention is to uplift the lives of the people.