Pepe-dede-ralismo? Seriously?

Opinion & Analysis Aug 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm
Mocha Uson’s tools to propagate the benefits of federalism are a far cry from the Federalist Papers

Mocha Uson’s tools to propagate the benefits of federalism are a far cry from the Federalist Papers

The push for a federal republic is no joke. Charter change, especially federalism, has far-reaching ramifications, and we need to have serious discussions about this draft constitution.

By José Victor ‘Jayvee’ Salameña

(This editorial is rated SPG for Language and Sex)

The first modern republic – the United States – did not have a smooth first few years. After the British surrendered to the combined forces of the French and the American Revolutionaries, the 13 colonies that made up the United States created a constitution that was designed to limit the power of the executive and to enhance the powers of the individual states. This was in response to what they perceived to be the abuses and encroachments of King and Parliament that intruded on the rights and liberties of individuals and their states.

Unfortunately, this weak constitution, devoid of a cohesive and uniting federal government and devoid of a strong executive, was rudderless and ineffective in the governance of a new nation. Soon after, the states reconvened again and in 1789, created the United States Constitution that is still in use by them today.

The debates for and against this new constitution was as passionate and heated as the debates that we Filipinos currently have with proposed changes to our constitution. To defend this new constitution to the general public, writers such as Alexander Hamilton (there’s a Broadway show about his life, you might have heard of it), James Madison and John Jay wrote essays. These small essays together became known as “The Federalist Papers” and they helped sway public opinion towards this new American Constitution. Political scientists still consider “The Federalist Papers” as a masterpiece of political theory.

Fast forward to our modern times. The Duterte Administration recently tasked Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson of the Presidential Communications Operations Office with the noble task of educating the general public about the merits and benefits of a federal Philippines. And while Ms. Uson has featured intellectuals on her blog like Orion Perez Dumdum of the CoRRECT Movement (which has been pushing for a federal parliamentary system since 2010), and even with the PDP-Laban Party having recently published a book on their model of Philippine federalism, what is the first big thing that Mocha Uson does to promote federalism?

Duterte is definitely down for some Budots, but not down for the pepe-dede-ralismo dance

Duterte is definitely down for some Budots, but not down for the pepe-dede-ralismo dance

A dance.

But not just any Ocho-Ocho, Budots, Gangnam Style, Harlem Shake, or In My Feelings Dance. It had to be a lewd dance, where the dancer points to the ‘dede’ and the ‘pepe’. Seriously?

Our national discourse on charter change – the first serious discussion that we have had on charter change since the ratification of the 1987 Constitution – has been degraded to “green” humor that only grade school children find funny. Sure, it would be hilarious if it was a part of a Porkchop Duo (RIP) skit. But this is federalism we’re talking about.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times when a lewd rap song called ‘Fefe’ (a song also about lady parts, like pepe-dede-ralismo) can shoot up the Billboard Music Charts and compete with the likes of Drake’s ‘Kiki’, that our national discussion on federalism droops down to lewdness about lady parts. Maybe it’s our somewhat magical ability for Filipinos to turn anything serious into a joke. But again, this is federalism we’re talking about.

A serious topic like federalism being degraded to a silly dance about “pepe” and “dede” is an insult to the intelligence of the Filipino people. This mishap is a blow (no dirty pun intended there) to the efforts of the Administration and of the people aligned to the idea of federalism – and the push for federalism is already facing stern opposition.

I want to remind President Duterte, Mocha Uson, and all Filipinos that the stakes are high. The opposition to federalism is strong and opponents of Federalism raise valid points. Their causes of concern must be addressed.

There is a valid concern that the warlords, drug lords and oligarchs of the regions will be emboldened within a federalist framework, that they could consolidate their illegitimate powers within their respective provinces. There is also a legitimate concern our Nation and various ethnic groups of Ilocanos, Tagalogs, Bicolanos, Bisayays, Iloilos, and Moro Muslims (if I forgot you, my sincerest apologies) are not united enough, and that a federal republic will only deepen the rift between our various regions and ethnicities. Proponents of federalism like me need to address these issues in a serious manner.

There are many of us in the Filipino diaspora community and in the Philippines, who have already been pushing for a federal parliamentary system of government for quite some time now, even before Duterte’s election. Like the Americans who wrote “The Federalist Papers”, there are many of us who have written countless Facebook posts and blog posts to promote a federal system.

And may I be the first to remind the Filipino-Canadians reading this: you yourselves chose to immigrate to a federal country. We Filipino-Canadians brought a little piece of the Philippines with us when Jollibee opened in Canada. It’s time for us to bring a little piece of Canadian federalism back to the Philippines.

And I would like to remind Filipinos, especially younger Filipinos – yeah, we’re good at dances. We’re good at singing, at rapping, at making music. But we’re good at writing too. Jose Rizal wrote “Noli Me Tangere” when he was 26. The Philippine Propaganda Movement which eventually led to the Philippine Revolution was started by writers in Madrid, and many of them like Mariano Ponce and Marcelo del Pilar were in their 20s and 30s.  It’s time again for us younger Filipinos to write for the betterment of our country again. As Rizal famously quoted, “The pen is mightier than the sword”.

Let’s bring back the spirit of “The Federalist Papers”. Let’s have serious discussions about federalism. Let’s write papers, write essays, for and against charter change. Because the stakes have never been higher.

Ms. Mocha, dance crazes are temporary. Gangnam Style, Harlem Shake, Ocho Ocho, Budots, were all fads. And I’m sorry Kiki – I’m not riding, I’m not down for you always, because the In My Feelings Dance Craze too will fade. And I’m sorry Fefe and Pepe-dede-ralism. As much as I’m down for the drip drip, wet wet, Super Soaker, I’m more down for serious discussions on a federal parliamentary Philippine republic.

A good constitution is more permanent. Just ask the Americans and their over-200-year-old constitution.Duterte