PASUC initiates forum on consti reforms

In partnership with Benguet State University (BSU), the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) conducted a “Forum on Constitutional Reforms: Its Relevance to Higher Education, Peace, and Development” at the gymnasium on May 11, 2017.

Participated by State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) from Regions 1, 2, and Cordillera Administrative Region, the main purpose of the activity is envisioned to assess the thoughts and encapsulate the views of the academic community, particularly state higher education institutions, on the call for constitutional reforms.

“The event will stimulate discussion on significant reforms…The forum will have a common framework, common model among strategic regions that will be participated in by stakeholders,” said Dr. Herbert Glenn P. Reyes, Executive Director of PASUC and member of the Forum Management Committee.

According to Dr. Feliciano G. Calora Jr., BSU President, there is a need to enlighten and demystify the topic on federalism.

Speakers from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were also invited as resource persons for the forum.

Dr. Alex B. Brillantes, professor at the University of the Philippines- National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP- NCPAG), presented federalism concepts and models. “The status quo is unacceptable that is why we should change the framework and mindsets of people…We will be changing the structure but we will not be inserting a new government…We will concentrate on the needs of the local people,” said Dr. Brillantes.

“Federalism in the decentralization continuum is the next big step after devolution…In a federal system, sovereignty is shared between the national and the local government units, powers are divided between a central government and several local governments,” emphasized Dr. Brillantes.

On the other hand, Mr. Conrado Generoso, consultant on the DILG Task Team on Federalism, talked about “Philippine PHederalism.” He said that “PHederalism” is a process towards system change which is uniquely our own.

“Let’s give the country a fresh start- clean slate- and with a new hope,” said Mr. Generoso.

Mr. Generoso also said that if “PHederalism” will be pushed, there should be only one constitution/flag, armed forces, foreign policy, education system (policy), civil service system, and central bank/monetary system.

Moreover, Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, Commissioner of CHED, expounded on federalism and its impact on public higher education. Dr. De Vera said that federalism makes education more responsive to what the people need and that it brings accountability close to the local constituents.
Dr. De Vera, however, exclaimed that “we can decide whether Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will remain in the federal government or we can have a mix up, which depends upon the model to be adopted.”

If the model is already decided, accordingly, HEIs will be clustered based on industry sectors and economic potentials of the region. Once focus areas are established, regional/state HEIs with specializations in the disciplines required by the top industries will be nurtured.

“HEI with expertise in agriculture, forestry, fishery, and vetmed for [sic] the largest agricultural producing regions of the country,” said Dr. De Vera.

“Other SUCs may be integrated into universities that are known to be strong or more effective in the delivery of programs or undertake a refocusing of their programs to better meet the needs of the state/regional economy,” added Dr. De Vera.

Furthermore, Dr. De Vera and Mr. Generoso corrected the misconception that corruption can be solved if federalism will be adopted. They said that constitutional reforms must be accompanied with other reforms. “Federalism or other political systems is not the magic bullet to fight corruption,” said Dr. De Vera.

The event was the eighth leg of a series of fora for the information dissemination on the theme which is in collaboration with the DILG and CHED.//JKTindo