Speech of Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III
Book launch of "The Quest for a Federal Republic: The PDP-Laban Model of Philippine Federalism 1.0"

02 February 2018

Magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat. Gagalangin ko po ang aking mga kakilala, kasama dito sa inisyatibong ito. Of course, palakpakan naman natin ang head ng party’s Federalism Institute, who fortunately or unfortunately got appointed into government service: Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, who is the editor of the book that we are launching today.

I also see some members of the Federalism Institute who are here, volunteers lang po sila, klaruhin natin yun since I see some media people here. I am telling the world right now through the media, they work in the capacity of volunteers. We have Dr. Julio Teehankee, Prof. Edmund Tayao, who were also fortunately or unfortunately drafted into some quasi-governmental work which is to be members of the Constitutional-Commission to study the 1987 Constitution. Of course, Dr. Alex Brillantes, Atty. Sal Mansod, Mr. Jojo Villano, Mr. Arvi Vicera, Prof. Ramon Casiple. If you see the anti-political party reforms being emphasized in the PDP Laban Model, you know who to blame. That is his advocacy for 30 years. And of course, Amb. Villacorta, maraming salamat po sa inyong pagdalo. Allow me to acknowledge Mr. Joel Lacierda of Asia Foundation. Some PDP Laban stalwarts are also here. We forgot Atty. Al Gonzales, Sec. Gary Olivar is also here, Atty. Benedicto Bacani is also here. Of course some party-mates, former Vice Gov. Vince Revil and incumbent Gov. Kaye Revil is also here and of course, Astra Naic, our membership committee.

To all of you, and those I have forgotten, magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat and thank you for joining us this noon-time as we launch the book, “The Quest for a Federal Republic: The PDP Laban Model of Federalism 1.0”. We have to stress that this outlines how PDP Laban sees a Federal Philippines.

At this time and age, maybe you know the meaning of 1.0. Dati it would be confusing when you say 1.0. Now, people know it’s 1.0. There can be 1.1 soon, or even a 2.0 soon. Congratulations are in order for the respective authors of the articles in the compilation, and of course, once again our editor, Assistant Sec. Jonathan Malaya of the DILG, for their efforts in making this book happen.

Federalism is an idea whose time has come, not only today but maybe years ago pa. This book is also a publication whose time has come, because it is needed, and I want to tell all of you, especially the editor and authors who contributed their work, people have been actually been reading our book. When I was presiding over joint congressional hearing for the extension of Martial Law, somebody came up to me and had their book signed. I saw some highlighted portions.

Yesterday, the Minority Leader of the Senate told me, “I have started reading your book.” This is not an idle exercise, my dear friends. It’s a book, a publication whose time has come. People want to read it, because they want to understand or to predict also, to see what is coming.

PDP Laban and federalism are intertwined in the political milieu. The Partido Demokratikong Pilipino, the PDP part of PDP Laban, one of the parties that eventually became PDP Laban, was founded under the shade of a banana tree by my father, former Senate President Aqulino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. Back then he only had a blackboard or manila paper to illustrate the principles and concepts of the new party to like-minded fellows in Cagayan De Oro City, but things are different now. PDP Laban has come a long way since then and we are now the so-called ruling party who swept into power with the promise of change led by Chairman-President Rodrigo Duterte.

The change we advocate is not cosmetic only. PDP Laban, and we are proud to say this, is not afraid to propose drastic changes. Our proposed change is structural. We believe that Federalism is the way to which our country can achieve equitable economic growth within our lifetime.

The Federal system allows our diversity to be used as a source of strength instead of a cause of weakness. By giving more powers to regional governments the regions would pursue their socio-economic agenda that is focused on their developmental needs which they should know better than the center of power, or Metro Manila. With Federalism, we will be able to establish numerous centers of power in different regions as opposed to a singular source in a unitary system.

However, federalism takes many forms. Each country has a unique set of experiences, political culture and political maturity, social development and economic development, factors that affect how they implement Federalism. The Philippines will be no exception to this rule. We may draw inspiration from federal countries like the United States, Switzerland, Germany and Spain, which refuses to be called a federal country but in reality is close to a federal country, we can also find inspiration there. Our neighbor Malaysia, and even progressive countries like Canada and Australia, but we will only look at these countries for inspiration, for the models, for the experiences, for the mistakes, for the successes. But only we Filipinos can develop the Federal system that is consistent and complementary, applicable, to our distinctive cultural and historical context. And it will not be a mistake, because there is no mistake. There is no right or wrong when it comes to Federalism. What is important is we stick to the essence of Federalism that there is a distribution of power, at least two different levels of government itself. Such a setup is protected by the Constitution itself. Those are the basic requirements of Federalism. If we stick to those principles, we are federal, and we are not mistaken, that is correct for the Filipino context.

This book contains the thoughts of leading the direct cause of the challenges we will face, and the opportunities we can seize in our quest to bring about equitable development in the country and improve the quality of life of every Filipino, in our lifetime. The unitary system can promise that, maybe 300 years down the road.

It is my hope that this book will pave the way for a greater understanding of the federal form of government, so that the quality of the debate will not be at the level of the alarmists. That so-called politics of fear daw, using the word “heaven". Because how come they are using the word “hell” against the Federalism? Realismo tayo. Federalism will not solve all of the Philippine’s problems but it will solve some or many or all of the problems related to the structure. Yun po yun, but the problem related to masamang ugali, hindi po maso-solve ng pederalismo yan. Iba ang sagot po dyan! But the structure, we hope that Federalism is the answer to the problems brought about by current unitary structure of government. Hindi naman nila siguro masasabi, some people are criticizing federal form, it will not solve all of our problems. Did the unitary solve all of our problems? Are our present problems caused by Federalism? We are under unitary, so the unitary caused the present problems.

This is the reason why we welcome the publication of this book, so congratulations to all of you. Please follow the example of the Minority Leader, basahin din ang libro. Read the book.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.