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Federalism forum
“Federalism and Conflict Regulation” Engages CHR in a Sharing of Best Practices by PILG and HSF

In connection with the expressed intention of the present administration to spearhead the shift to a federal system of government, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) held a forum for its key officers and core staff on “Federalism and Conflict Regulation: Typical Conflicts and Potential Arrangements for Regulation, Including Conflicts Over the Supremacy of National Over Sub-National Law” in Quezon City on 09 March 2017. A main discussant for the activity, which was jointly organised by the Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance (PILG) and the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) in collaboration with the CHR, was Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinemann-Grüder of the Political Science Department of the Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Bonn in Germany.

Prof. Dr. Heinemann-Grüder presenting his topic


Commissioner Karen Lucia S. Gomez Dumpit, who gave the opening remarks, enjoined the participants to examine the suitability of a federal system of governance for the particular nuances of the Philippines’ political and organizational set up and social structure. She invited them to ponder upon federalism as just one of the possible remedies for the decentralisation and redistribution of powers in the country, aside from revisiting existing governing laws and raising critical questions, amongst them, “will this [federal] system of government ultimately ensure sustainable social reforms and protecting of civil and political rights?” She ended by sharing that the results of the forum will be taken into consideration by the CHR’s study group which has been formed to do further in-depth research on the topic towards shaping the commission’s policy and advocacy for when the time comes that the commission is asked for its official stand on the subject matter.

Expressing the HSF’s support for the ongoing discourse on federalism, its resident representative Mr. Götz Heinicke, in his message, emphasized that the final decision of whether or not to shift to a federal system of government lies with the Filipino people.

In her closing remarks, Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana recognized the discussion on conflict as a good start, especially as it showed that, in a federal set up, conflict is not insurmountable and can actually be regulated. She noted how the presentation and the exchange that ensued covered a number of issues about federalism that are noteworthy to the commission as a whole and added that this first information activity on federalism in the commission shall be followed so as to continue the discourse on federalism.

forum on Federalism


With more than 50 participants in attendance, the forum sought to “provide information and education to key officials in the commission, focusing on the impact of federalism as a system of governance over the human rights community and, essentially, to the recognition practice and respect for human rights for all.” Ms. Ana Elzy E. Ofreneo, CESO III, Director IV of the Human Rights Education & Research Office, moderated the discussion.

In line with the partnership between the PILG and the HSF towards the raising of the awareness on the federal system of government in the country, HSF invited Prof. Dr. Heinemann-Grüder to the Philippines from 06-10 March 2017 to speak on topics related to federalism that are of particular relevance to the Philippine public. The PILG and the HSF jointly organized a series of activities in the National Capital Region, in the Southern Tagalog Region and in Northern Mindanao in collaboration with local partners. The forum was part of the series of information activities on federalism organised to be held during the professor’s visit to the country.