Abueva mellows down stance on federalism

  • April 19, 2017
  • Jerome Paunan

University of the Philippines Alumni Association on Tuesday hosted the Kapihan ng Bayan sa UP "Federalismo--the pros and cons" at the UP Ang Bahay ng Alumni. The forum invited retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza and former UP president Dr. Jose Abeva, among others, to discuss issues on federalism and governance. (Photo by Jerome Carlo R. Paunan/PIA-NCR)

QUEZON CITY, April 19 (PIA) -- Former University of the Philippines (UP) president and fervent proponent of federalism Dr. Jose V. Abueva has now mellowed down his take on the Philippines’ shifting to a federal form of government.


During Tuesday’s Kapihan ng Bayan sa UP with the topic “Federalismo-the pros and cons,” Abueva surprisingly expressed his change of heart. He began his opening statement with, “Let me start by saying that I am not for federalism.”


Abueva, who for a time was the Advisory Board Chairman of the Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines, once estimated that their groups’ proposed 11 federal states in a federal parliamentary democracy, would become viable in ten years.


“I am for a unitary state, and my model is the United Kingdom for the reasons that it is not a federal state but a unitary type state. A unitary state in which its main parts (England, Scotland, and Wales) are very autonomous,” he said.


“That is my model in inspiring our political system. A unitary state, which is also a parliamentary system,” he added.


During the forum, Abueva also described some of the country’s “basic weaknesses” and “exploiters” that he said, make it “a very weak nation” with a “soft state” despite more than a century of nation building and democratization.


These include, he said, the Philippines having an unconsolidated democracy that is exploited by oligarchs or rich and powerful politicians and their families who exploit the State to serve their selfish interests; warlords who use violence to gain and protect their power and political position; politicians who use force, fraud, or buy votes to win elections and stay in power; “rent-seeking” businessmen and public administrators; gambling lords, drug lords, and smuggling lords; tax evaders; rebels who collect revolutionary taxes; terrorists; and even poor informal settlers who occupy public land and use their votes to buy the protection of politicians.


“It was estimated that 80 percent of politicians, especially representatives and senators, belong to family dynasties,” Abueva said.


“The political reality is otherwise in our oligarchic society marked by the dominance of the rich and powerful family political dynasties, by widespread poverty, landlessness, homelessness, insecurity, injustice, and a weakened rule of law,” he added.


The Kapihan ng Bayan sa UP serves as a regular forum for intelligent and constructive discussion of issues relevant to the Philippines’ development as a nation. (RJB/JCP/PIA-NCR)

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