IT professional lectured Ateneo lawyer, FEU dean about Federalism; called him 'ignorant' - The Daily Sentry

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IT professional lectured Ateneo lawyer, FEU dean about Federalism; called him 'ignorant'

Reform activist and Information Technoloy (IT) professional, Orion Perez D lectured  Melencio Santa Maria, a lawyer, professor in Ateneo law school and dean of Far Eastern University (FEU) about Federalism.
Orion Perez and Atty. Melencio Santa Maria / Photo from Correct Philippines and Media Newser Philippines

Read his full post below:

"Dean Mel Sta Maria is proof that Lawyers and Law School Deans aren't necessarily the best people to talk about the Constitution, Constitutional Reform, Federalism, or systems of government and structures of territorial administration.

The guy is completely as in TOTALLY IGNORANT about the absolute inadequacy of the 1987 Constitution when it comes to providing for regional autonomy and allowing regions to be able to form themselves in ways that are appropriate to their circumstances.

Does Dean Mel Sta Maria know that one of the problems of Article X Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution is that it ensures that NO PROVINCE WILL EVER TRULY BECOME ECONOMICALLY SELF-SUFFICIENT?

Because the key to provinces becoming rich is URBANIZATION. It requires that human settlements attract more people and more industries to the point that people can specialize into different fields of endeavor rather than everyone being boringly relegated to subsistence agriculture. The problem here is that Article X Section 12 means that any city that is rich enough after achieving a certain level of economic success will thus be removed from the province to which it originally belonged, and it will become an independent city outside of the province's jurisdiction, and will now report directly to the national government.

Any forward-thinking and forward-looking Provincial Governor who goes out of his way to aggressively attract massive amounts of foreign and local direct investors into the province will inadvertently cause the towns that absorb these investors to end up becoming economically-developed cities which will eventually become INDEPENDENT OF THE PROVINCE all thanks to Article X Section 12!!! And once independent, the people in such independent cities can't even vote for the province's officials.
Atty. Mel Sta. Maria / Photo from Youtube

See just how ridiculous the 1987 Constitution is?

And some people think we can just "tweak" the 1991 Local Government Code???

Even the very author of the 1991 Local Government Code himself - former Senate President Nene Pimentel - made it clear that the 1991 Local Government Code was introduced by him as a "for the time being" interim measure to "simulate Federalism" while the Philippines remained under a Unitary structure of territorial administration. He made it clear that the 1991 Local Government Code has essentially hit the limits of what the constitutional system can provide, and the only other way to strengthen or improve autonomy is to go with actual constitutional revisions to achieve Federalism.

All this is thanks to the fact that the 1991 Local Government Code is nothing but normal legislation and this simply cannot override whatever structural definitions are present in the Constitution.

Honestly, IT Professionals, Programmers and people who troubleshoot systems and debug code who take some time to study what's wrong with the 1987 Constitution (like yours truly) can obviously do a much better job of pinpointing buggy code and errors than can people whose training is focused on making a guilty client look innocent in the court of law.

There are many other features (or flaws) of Article X as well as other Articles that make the 1987 Constitution incompatible with any desire to simulate Federalism or achieve Region-based Decentralization.

For instance, Article X Section 1 does not include REGIONS as being among the political subdivisions of the country. But for Region-based Decentralization to happen in order to achieve greater economies of scale in joining like-provinces together into bigger regions, we need to aggregate or consolidate provinces together into regions.

But Article X only allows autonomous regions to be created for the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, other regions outside of these two cannot enjoy the same kind of autonomy.

Mel Sta. Maria also doesn't realize that the 1991 Local Government Code is aimed at LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs), particularly Cities and Municipalities, and does not concern the creation of Regions out of provinces. Quite obviously, Mel Sta. Maria has a very very very defective and poor understanding of what Federalism aims to achieve.

He just thinks that Federalism is the 1991 LGC "on steroids." But that's not true!

Federalism involves consolidating like-provinces with each other to form regions. The 1991 LGC does not provide for that.

There are so many other aspects to this which the Law School Dean clearly doesn't understand, but let's move to something even more important...

For the Philippines to have regions that can rapidly develop their economies, there needs to be the REMOVAL OF 60/40 and REMOVAL of anti-FDI restrictions. If you don't remove these, then the LGUs and regions won't be able to easily attract foreign direct investors to locate in their areas. Investors - both local and foreign - will end up just flocking to Metro Manila instead, as that's where all the necessary paperwork gets done the fastest.

Removal of the 60/40 and other anti-FDI restrictions is an absolute must because this is the only way that regions or even LGUs can attract investors, and this can only happen through Constitutional Reform.
Orion Perez D / Photo from Youtube

Anything short of Constitutional Reform (amendments/revisions) means that the country will continue to stagnate and won't be able to attract the right kinds of job-creating companies to set up shop in the Philippines, particularly in the regions.

There is no other way. Whether we like it or not, the Philippines MUST undergo Constitutional Reform.

Sadly, Dean Mel Sta. Maria does not understand this concept because he does not have the systems analysis type of brain to do the necessary trouble-shooting and debugging that we IT people do all the time in order to identify and pinpoint issues and fix them.

Sorry to all my lawyer friends, but this time, it's us IT and other technical people (or maybe technically-inclined lawyers who have similarly-wired brains) who are better-equipped to identify and fix what's wrong with our country's systems."