Study Tour on Peaceful Democratic Sub-National Government in the Federal Republic of Germany and Kingdom of Belgium

DELACSE Study Tour

October8Sunday

Date/time

October 8 - 14, 2017

Loc.

Berlin and Düsseldorf, Germany and Brussels, Belgium

Type

Study and Information Program

The Democratic Leadership and Active Civil Society Empowerment in the Bangsamoro (DELACSE Bangsamoro) organized the Bangsamoro Mission on Peaceful Democratic Sub-National Government Study Tour last 8-15 October 2017 in Germany and Belgium.

The DELACSE Bangsamoro, a 13-month capacity building and knowledge transfer project fully-funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines and Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), organized the Bangsamoro Mission on Peaceful Democratic Sub-National Government Study Tour last 8-15 October 2017 in Germany and Belgium for at least 20 leaders from the Bangsamoro Community. This is a joint effort with Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), a Geneva-based foundation specializing in conflict-mediation and peace process.

Mindanao, where the Philippines’ Muslim-majority areas are situated, has been struggling with violent conflict and ineffective governance for almost five decades. Its people are hopeful that the ‘Bangsamoro Basic Law’, which will finally provide a greater degree of autonomy to the Bangsamoro community, is now under consideration by the Philippine Congress. The country’s current administration is also pushing for a shift from a unitary form of government to a federal system.

The study tour aimed to expose the Bangsamoro leaders to models of democratic governance and options to ensure effective relations between national and sub-national governments. It gave the group an opportunity to learn among them on the most appropriate institution for building a peaceful and democratic Bangsamoro.


Berlin and Düsseldorf: Federalism, Political Structures and Multi-Level Governance in Germany

Delegates from KAS and HD visited had comprehensive discussion on federalism, political structures, and multi-level governance in Germany. The first half of the tour was spent in Berlin where the delegates met Mr. Bernhard Kaster, Member of Parliament and Whip of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group. They learned about the law on political parties and party financing. They also tackled how vital for a major political party like the CDU/CSU to create alliances to form a majority in the parliament.

To learn more on how autonomy and multi-level governance works in Germany, the delegates were brought to the Berlin State Assembly to partake in the discussion with Mr. Tim-Christopher Zeelen and Mr. Danny Freymark, members of the State Assembly, about the Roles of Berlin State Assembly in the German Federal System. The discussion centered on the organization and functions of parliamentary groups in state assembly and how parties play a major role in strengthening representative democracy in the state. The discussion became more engaging when the speakers shared their experiences on how they articulate the interests of their respective constituencies to the state assembly and how these interests will be taken into consideration in the national legislative agenda (Bundestag). To give them a more deliberate overview on how Germany ensures checks and balances for both the executive and legislative branches of government, delegates were brought to the Bundesrat (The Federal Council of Germany) whereby Mr. Claus Dieter Koggel, Head of Division Parliamentary Relations, discussed the Roles of Bundesrat in national legislation.

Having been in Germany where KAS Headquarters is located, KAS and HD delegates took the opportunity to visit and meet KAS officials. Ms. Susanne Käss, Head of Section for Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific welcomed the delegates and presented a rundown of the organization’s efforts on lending assistance to development countries by facilitating multi-national and inter-country dialogues on democracy and the rule of law, political participation, and sustainable environment, among others.

To ensure that participants’ learnings on federations and multilevel governance will be synthesized in a global context, the meeting was followed by a roundtable discussion with Mr. Felix Knüpling, the Head of Forum of Federations in Berlin.

The tour covered a visit to Düsseldorf, capital of North Rhine Westphalia, one of Germany’s federal states with the purpose of learning how a state capital of Germany operates within a federal government. The participants visited the State Assembly of NRW where Mr. Andre Kuper, President of the State Assembly of North Rhine Westphalia, welcomed and oriented them about the demographics and the political system. He explained how the government structure was designed to prevent both government servants and civil officials to engage in corruption.


Learning Federalism and Governance the Belgian Style

The second half of the tour was allocated to learn the other facets of federalism and multi-level governance in the case of Belgium. The first day in Brussels provided different learning opportunities whereby participants from KAS and HD attended separate meetings.

While HD participants attended the meeting at the International Crisis Group, KAS participants attended the meeting with Ms. Sabina Woelkner, Programme Director of the KAS Multinational Development Dialogue who facilitated a roundtable together with Mr. Andreas Striegnitz, Administrator and Senior Member of the Secretariat of the Delegation for Southeast Asia and ASEAN in the European Parliament. The meeting participants were asked whether the EU-funded projects created impact in terms of development in Muslim Mindanao. Participants have been very vocal about the contributions of KAS and EU in the Bangsamoro particularly to their communities and organizations. Questions concentrated on how KAS as a foundation, tries to expand and sustain its efforts in facilitating capacity building initiatives and multinational dialogues in terms of sustainable environment, democracy and the rule of law, political reforms, gender and equality, peace and autonomy, among others.

Learning the Belgian federal model made the participants more inquisitive on how a complicated system works in Belgium, hence the delegates had an intensive open discussion after the lecture of Mr. Benjamin Dalle of the CD&V and Director of CEDER, the think-tank of KAS Brussels on the history of Belgian decentralization, federalism and the Belgian political system.

The discussions on Belgian model of federalism were intensified when the delegates attended the orientation and lecture at the Flemish Parliament. As their interest began to grow on how a complex yet an effective system work in the case of Belgian political system, they started to throw probing questions on how taxation, labor code, and education work in Belgium.

In the case of Bangsamoro where more than 50 local languages, participants have grown more curious and became more participative in the discussion when they learned that Belgium acknowledges and respects the distinct features and multicultural diversities of the Flemish, Walloon, and German regions and communities under one flag. Participants related it with Bangsamoro people’s claims for the right to self-determination where they realized that there is truly unity amidst diversity and it works in Belgium.

The tour has included an exclusive meeting with high officials of the European Union External Action Services where the delegates had the chance to give updates on the peace process and Bangsamoro Basic Law in Mindanao. They also provided updates and real-life stories on the situation of Marawi after the terrorist attacks. The delegates agreed that despite the pronouncements of President Duterte towards the European Union, EU should continue its support in Mindanao. The delegates also highlighted that it is not only humanitarian assistance that is primordial to the re-building of the war-stricken areas in Mindanao, but also more re-construction of infrastructure, development of economic activities by increasing more decent jobs, and of course, to continue the capacity building initiatives through civic education programs.


Sharing Best Practices and Aspirations

Discussions in meetings focused on how KAS and EU continue their operations for decades in the Philippines and how they shaped the debate on decentralization, autonomy, federalism. The participants especially the representatives from the indigenous peoples of Muslim Mindanao were given the opportunity to thank KAS and to share their real life experience on how KAS helped in the promotion of IPs rights in the region by involving them into national and international exposure activities. They mentioned that with the help of three consecutive EU-funded projects implemented by KAS, they were inspired to organize and establish their own political party in the Bangsamoro.

At the time when the Philippines is on the cusp of autonomy and decentralization, it is imperative that CSO leaders contribute and participate in the formation of the new Bangsamoro political framework. By learning the best practices directly from functioning federal governments, these leaders can better contribute to the policy development of a federal government or an autonomous region. It also provided a venue for the European counterparts to hear the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

The study tour was spearheaded by Mr. Edoardo Manfredini, Head of the Delegation and Programme Manager for Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines; Mr. Benedikt Seemann, Country Director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines; Ms. April De la Cruz-Faderan, Project Manager of KAS Philippines; and Ms. Iona Gracia Jalijali, Program Manager of Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) Philippines.

The official delegates of the study tour were the following:

Image

Die philippinische Delegation zu Besuch im Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus, mit Tim-Christopher Zeelen MdA (m.) und Danny Freymark MdA (2.v.r.)
Study tour group picture

The Bangsamoro delegation at the Reichstag and with Mr. Bernhard Kaster, Member of Parliament

Contact person

Benedikt Seemann

Head of the KAS office Philippines

Benedikt Seemann
Phone +63 2 894 3737; -3427; -3796
Fax +63 2 893 6199

April De la Cruz

Project Manager EU Project "DELACSE Bangsamoro"

April De la Cruz
Phone +63 2 801 9837