What is a referendum?

It is the practice of referring proposals to the electorate at large for approval or disapproval. Techni-cally, it differs from an initiative, in which voters initiate proposed law and take direct action on it, and from a plebiscite, which is often used to describe the process by which constitutions or amendments thereto are either ratified or rejected.


Why the preference for "referendum" over "initiative" or "plebiscite"?

An 
initiative is conducted to introduce or modify legislation, rather than to alter the fundamental law. Plebiscite would be appropriate if the measure we propose were merely to amend the Philippine Consti-tution. It isn't. The proposal, if approved by a majority of voters in a particular region, would effectively remove that region from the present republic. By whatever legal term it is called, however, the vote on whether or not to partition the country will have the same effect.


Has such a process been utilized to determine if a nation-state should be partitioned?

Yes. In 1995, for instance, a referendum was conducted in Quebec to determine if that region should break away from Canada.


Did all of Canada's voters participate in that vote?

No. Only Quebec's 5 million voters participated. Political separation is a question that is decided by a particular region, not by the country's entire electorate. The same principle holds true in civil law, where the right to partition commonly-held property belongs to each co-owner, a claim by whom cannot be ignored, rejected, or overridden by his or her peers, however persuasive their arguments or powerful their majorities.


What would have happened had that proposition won the vote?

Then that country would have been divided into Canada and the fresh, sovereign nation-state of Quebec.


Has such a referendum actually resulted in partition?

Yes. In 1990, for instance, the electorate of Czechoslovakia went to the polls to decide whether that country ought to be divided into two. The proposition won in both the Czech and Slovak regions, result-ing the following year in the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the simultaneous creation of the Czech and Slovak republics.


Are there other instances of such referenda?

Yes. In the last ten years, to cite a few examples, Gibraltar held a referendum to decide whether to re-main part of the United Kingdom or to revert to Spain; and in America, Guam, Samoa, and Puerto Rico voted to remain integral parts of the United States, rather than detach themselves from that country to become independent nation-states.


What is the basis for this practice?

The time-honored principle, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, that "all peoples have the right to self-determination."


Why schedule the referendum to coincide with the May 2004 national elections?

To provide for an adequate period of intelligent debate, and to pre-empt our central government from claiming that the process, given that government's dire financial straits, would be unaffordable. If held alongside the 2004 polls, all that government will have to do is to add the question to the ballot.


Will the referendum be derailed if our central government, for whatever reason, refuses or fails to place the question of partition on the 2004 ballot?

No. In the event government chooses to ignore our nations' and regions' inalienable right to self-deter-mination, those of our regions that possess sufficient political will will conduct this referendum on their own with the cooperation of reputable and disinterested third parties such as domestic and international organizations, local and foreign media, and churches of all faiths. Those regions where the proposition wins will be expected to declare, and thereafter defend, their independence.


Does this mean that the referendum will be held, with or without the cooperation of our central government?

In virtually all of our regions, yes.


But isn't the consent of one's central government always required for a region to break away, with or without a referendum??

Absolutely not. If that were true, then East Timor, Bangladesh, and America [among many others] would never have been able to sever their political bonds, respectively, from Indonesia, Pakistan, and England.


What would happen if, for instance, only Bangsamoro decides to leave the Philippine republic?

Then that particular region would become a separate and sovereign nation-state. Elsewhere in the archipelago, needless to say, the political status quo will prevail.

What would happen if all of our regions reject partition?

Then the status quo will be maintained. The significant difference will be that the electorate will have exercised their right to decide the question. The national government, for the first time, can validly claim that its authority emanates from the informed consent of the governed.

Our nations that will vote for partition -- should they come together to create a larger nation-
state?

That is solely for each such nation to decide, but geopolitical, economic, and defense interests dictate that they ought to. It is suggested, for instance, that the nations of central Philippines come together to create the Visayan Confederacy. Because such an association is completely voluntary, each member nation will come to the bargaining table as each other's peer. The central government they agree to construct will possess no authority other than those expressly delegated to it by the member nations. In most fededrated/confederated countries, these powers are generally limited to national defense, foreign policy, citizenship, currency, and fiscal policy.



What would happen if all the regions decide to leave the republic?

Then all of our regions become separate and sovereign nation-states. The Philippines as it is currently structured, like Czechoslovakia and the late, unlamented Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, will cease to exist, replaced by the governments of their successor states.

The following became nation-states after partition or secession:

·Anguilla from the British Virgin Islands in 1969.
·Anjouan from Comoros in 1997.
·Armenia from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Aruba from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986.
·Azerbaijan from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971.
·Barbuda from Antigua-Barbuda in 1981.
·Belarus from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Belgium from the Netherlands in 1830.
·Bosnia and Herzegovina from Yugoslavia in 1991.
·Colombia from Gran Colombia in 1830.
·Croatia from Yugoslavia in 1991.
·The Czech Republic from Czechoslovakia in 1993.
·East Timor from Indonesia in 1999.
·Ecuador from Gran Colombia in 1830.
·Estonia from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Egypt from the United Arab Republic in 1961.
·Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993.
·Gambia from Senegambia in 1989.
·Georgia from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·Kazakhstan from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·Kyrgyztan from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·Latvia from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·Lithuania from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·Macedonia from Yugoslavia in 1992.
·Mongolia from China in 1911.
·Pakistan from British India in 1947.
·Panama from Colombia in 1902.
·Senegal from the Mali Federation in 1960, then from Senegambia in 1989.
·Singapore from Malaysia in 1965.
·Slovakia from Czechoslovakia in 1993.
·Slovenia from Yugoslavia in 1991.
·Syria from the United Arab Republic in 1961.
·Tajikistan from the Soviet Union in 1991.
·The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus from Cyprus in 1983.
·Turkmenistan from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Tuvalu from the Gilbert Islands in 1975.
·Ukraine from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·The United States from England in 1776.
·Uzbekistan from the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
·Venezuela from Gran Colombia in 1830.

The following are either threatening to secede or are actively fighting to secede:

·Chechnya from Russia
·The Caucasus from Russia
·The Cherkess Region from the Russian Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia
·Caprivi from Namibia
·The Chin State from Myanmar
·Southern Bhutan from Bhutan
·Montenegro from Yugoslavia
·Kosovo from Yugoslavia
·Tibet from China
·Inner Mongolia from China
·East Turkistan [Xinjiang Uighur] from China
·Taiwan from China 
·The Tamils from Sri Lanka
·West Bank and Gaza from Israel
·Bougainville from Papua New Guinea
·Scotland from the United Kingdom
·Wales from the United Kingdom
·Ulster from England
·Ache from Indonesia
·Riau from Indonesia
·East Kalimantan from Indonesia
·Sulawesi from Indonesia
·West Papua[Irian Jaya] from Indonesia
·The Spice Islands [Mollucas] from Indonesia
·Lombok from Indonesia
·The Basque Country from Spain
·Somaliland from Somalia
·Chiapas from Mexico
·Quebec from Canada
·Kashmir from India
·Punjab from India
·The Kurds from Turkey
·The Kurds from Iran
·The Kurds from Iraq
·The Faroe Islands from Denmark
·Saxia from South Africa
·Southern Sudan from Sudan
·Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia
·Elsass-Lothringia from France
·Brittany from France
·Epirus from Albania
·Flanders from Belgium
·St. Kitts from St. Kitts and Nevis
·Anjouan from Comoros
·Padania from Italy
·Puerto Rico from the United States
·Hawaii from the United States
·Jura from Switzerland
·Crimea from the Ukraine
·Scania from Sweden
·Western Sahara from Morocco
·Southern Yemen from Yemen
·Nagorno-Karabach from Azerbaijan
·Gagauzia and Transitria from Moldova
·San Andres and Providencia from Colombia
·Casamance from Senegal
·Abidjan from Côte de Ivoire
·Buganda from Uganda
·Western Zambia from Zambia
·Bangsamoro from the Philippines

The Referendum: Q&A
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Targeting the May 2004 Referendum:
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