Shift to Federalism

With savory “promises” that it will “spur economic growth”, eleven senators filed Joint Resolution No. 10 “proposing the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary-federal system of government”.

The resolution proposed the creation of 11 federal states and one federal administrative region. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban), the principal author of Joint Resolution No. 10, said, the move to federalize the country is not simply a ‘political’ undertaking. It is also an economic effort. By creating 11 federal states and by converting Metro Manila as a federal administrative region, we immediately establish 12 centers of power, finance and development throughout the country. [1]

The proposal is meant to accomplish two main goals, according to Sen. Pimentel:

  1. Cause the speedy development of the entire country by unleashing the forces of competitiveness among the component federal states, and
  2. Dissipate the causes of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

The plan to shift to parliamentary-federal system of government becomes an instant talk of the town. Many expressed excitement over the matter while few have some reservations.

This change is vital for our Republic, the April 26 editorial of The Manila Times noted. [2] While Senators Panfilo Lacson and Loren Legarda have expressed reservations on the matter, The Daily Tribune reported. [3]

It is good to hear that the shift to parliamentary-federal system of government will “spur economic growth”. By thinking so, it implies that under a unitary system of government, economic growth seems not possible.

Our neighbors will remind us that “the thought” is erroneous. Let us take for example South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. These countries adopt the unitary system. Our closest neighbor that adopts federal system is Malaysia. We cannot rightfully conclude that under federal system Malaysia is outperforming her neighbors, including the Philippines. Our GDP grew by 7.3 percent in 2007 under unitary system, better than the growth of Malaysia (5.90 percent – 2006 est.) [4] under its federal union. But of course, Malaysia has better economic performance in previous decades. But Singapore and South Korea performed better.

I am not convinced that by shifting to parliamentary-federal system of government, it will “dissipate” the causes of rebellion in Mindanao. In my humble understanding, Bangsamoro do not just seek “full autonomy” but “freedom” or independence. After all, that part of the country has enjoyed independence for centuries before and even during colonization era. Thus, with the peace agreement signed during Ramos administration, and with the establishment of ARMM, the struggle continues.

Federalism will pave way to “freedom” and will likely break Philippines into several small pieces. In a highly polarized state like the Philippines, this is not a remote possibility. Look, in the proposed states, we have the state called Central Visayas. Do you believe that Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor “think” as one Central Visayas? Certainly not. Cebu thinks as “Cebu”; Bohol as “Bohol”. Let us accept that reality. Now, I hear some proposing that Cebu should stand as one state to join the “Philippine Federation” (for a good start and soon becomes Republic of Cebu).

We have heard how Yugoslavia, a federal state, broke into several pieces. What happened to Yugoslavia will likely be replicated in the Philippines. God forbids!

I am not convinced that the the proposal is more on “economic effort”. It is obviously a political undertaking taking shield of “economic promises”. Why, will investors swarmed in once the “11 states” formed a federation? If the legislators are obsessed to uplift the economic standing of this country, they must first look into our economic reform policies.

I wish to make it clear that I am not against Joint Resolution No. 10. If the resolution sparks good exchange of opinions which result to a national consensus, then let it be. If it makes the nation aware of how a system, and how the people affect development, then let Joint Resolution No. 10 shines.

I wish also to clarify that I am not against decentralization nor to a federal system but I stand that before we all get excited that seemingly Utopian promises of federal system, we must carefully scrutinize and weigh arguments so that we can come up with a smart decision.

As of now, it is not safe for the proponents of the federal system to count the chicken – the chicks are “still eggs”.

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Blog I author (Bisaya): Ambot Lang!
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8 thoughts on “Shift to Federalism

  1. Thanks for visiting the blog. (http://federalpinoy.wordpress.com)

    Your views are very much appreciated and I do hope you will lend in your voice to the discussions.

    I’ll try to set up more pages in the coming days.

    May I post a link to this page in the blog?

    batang buotan says:
    Sure, you may.

  2. yeah! shift to federalism. another gloria arroyo tactics. what can i say. the most cunning and sly philippine president ever. everything from a cunning mind. i didn’t get to read the post actually. no offense meant hap. i was just droppin by and why not comment on this post as i know your opposing the whole federalism thing. i hope i’m right. i’m on your side. why not leave the whole system untouch and just get out of the position gloria arroyo.

    batang buotan says:
    Hi Keith! Thanks for dropping by. I don’t think that this is “another gloria arroyo tactics”. President Arroyo has nothing to do about this. The senate resolution is endorsed by no less than the opposition senator Nene Pimentel who has been known to go against the administration no matter how erroneous his thought were. This new proposal is backed by opposition, how can we say that this is “another gloria arroyo tactics”.

    In my post I wrote:

    I wish to make it clear that I am not against Joint Resolution No. 10.

    I wish also to clarify that I am not against decentralization nor to a federal system but I stand that before we all get excited that seemingly Utopian promises of federal system, we must carefully scrutinize and weigh arguments so that we can come up with a smart decision.

    It is clear, I’m not against Federalism but I insist that we need to come up with a national consensus first.

  3. You’re right of course. Haste makes waste. The people of the RP should examine this thoroughly. It is an intriguing idea though.

    As for splintering like Yugoslavia it certainly is a possibility. Especially regarding the ARMM as you mentioned. Complicating matters further is the language “problem” with so many different dialects. Regardless of people saying that the national language is Pilipino it is my experience that the Bisayans still prefer to speak Bisaya, the Illongos speak Illongo, and so it goes. I also seem to remember Mayor Osmena of Cebu City suggesting that Cebu become independent not too long ago.

    batang buotan says:
    Thank you Goyo. I just hope that we can come up with national consensus on this critical issue which will define national direction – and the future of our children.

  4. “After all, that part of the country has enjoyed independence for centuries before and even during colonization era. Thus, with the peace agreement signed during Ramos administration, and with the establishment of ARMM, the struggle continues”

    The problem in Mindanao only started after the Jabidah massacre in the late 1960’s

    “Regardless of people saying that the national language is Pilipino it is my experience that the Bisayans still prefer to speak Bisaya, the Illongos speak Illongo, and so it goes. I also seem to remember Mayor Osmena of Cebu City suggesting that Cebu become independent not too long ago.”

    The problem is not whether the Visayans perefer to speak Bisaya or the Ilonggos Hiligaynon but the policies that thwarts the native languages.

    I believe Federalism is good for the Philippines because it’s decentralization. Services will be more accessible to areas outside Manila. Imagine in our centralized system, a poor person from Mindanao has a pending case in the Sc and since it is a centralized system, he HAS to go to the SC in MANILA. Whereas if we are in a federal set up, he can go to the state capital rather than the national capital which is too far and expensive.

  5. i agree with the views presented above and i share all your opinion on the timeliness and efficiency of shifting to federalism. However, we could not also discount the fact that some lurking trapos, identified with the common interests as the self-seeking GLORiA, are also taking their rides on this issue in the hope of taking advantage of it.

  6. The usual group of people that oppose federalism usually come from the Luzon area. I don’t know exactly what their reasons are. While the most faithful supporter of federalism are from the provinces.

    So i would not be surprised if Lacson and Legarda have reservations regarding federalism.

    Many months ago, there was a topic about Federalism raised in a popular Philippine forum. Again, forum members from Luzon disagree with the ideas from members who hailed from the provinces that are for federalism.

    In my opinion, based on my love for studying human behavior, the Luzon people feel a little insecure about the people from the provinces since supporting federalism is like separating oneself from the control of the capital. The promdis would no longer be in awe of the Manila’s prestige if federalism becomes a reality.

    batang buotan says:
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you, the move to shift the system to Federal form has been supported mostly by those in the provinces. I was still in high school when I heard radio programs in Mindanao, calling people’s support to Federal system. It is only this time that it gained momentum.

  7. Hi,

    I don’t think it is appropriate to compare the Philippines to Yugoslavia as the latter’s situation is different and is deeply rooted in their history and culture.

    SJR#10 only proposes a shift to Federal Form, not Parliamentary system.

    I think one must not forget that such ‘sweet’ words are almost always for “formality”. Do we want to write down in our Laws something like this? “the move to federalize the country is not simply a ‘political’ undertaking. It is also a way to experiment and test the system if we are going to adopt it permanently….” So “economic promises”, “economic effort”, it will always be there. What else to say but those?

    They already did look into our economic reform policies and they already did as much as they can within the current framework of the government. Some or many of these reforms are also not getting implemented at all, mainly due to the centralization of power, budget, and what not.

    My point is, ignore the ‘sweet’ words, disect it instead. It is no different than the “Marketing” words of many companies like “We’re the #1 blah blah blah”. It’s just that. And we haven’t even started discussing and enumerating all the different factors that can affect an economic growth.

    True, Cebu thinks as “Cebu”. If the shift to the Federal form will not change their mindsets, then nothing will. It is time that we change our mindset, time to change, time to be more Nationalistic, to be more Regional. Do we want to shape our future or do we want the future to shape us? The latter will surely hurt a lot.

    Now some will say that it is not yet time to switch because of various reasons like “the government is corrupt”. So I ask, when? When is the right time to change? When will the government become Holy and Perfect? When there is no more country to govern? These are merely excuses because we are afraid of change. Because we are still being haunted by our dark past. Time has changed, and we are already being left behind. Once we are far back in the race, time will forcefully change us all.

    The time of change is now. It is far better to step a foot forward than to sit idle and keep on going in circles – rally, People Power, impeachement, replacement President, rally, PP, impeachement, … If our current system made us all like this, then on the next system we are still like this because we do not want to change for the better, then we are forever doomed – no matter what system we try, if the Filipino People will be passive and pessimistic and always contradicting (example, just because they don’t like the President, they dont support her projects or worst, they thwart her every move), then we just killed ourselves.

    Btw, the National Language is “Filipino” not “Pilipino” (and not “Tagalog”). The Government forgot about the “growth”, “improvement”, and “evolution” of the Filipino National Language. It planned to integrate the words from the different dialects of the Philippines. “Filipino” was the solution to the problem of “we want our language to be the National Language” issues.

    Now finally, let us not start talking about “what our neighbors will say or think” because we do not know for sure what they think. This is Human Nature, but I hope Filipinos will learn otherwise. It is no different from this statement by most Filipinos: “Our TV/Movies suck, our neighbors will laugh us, they won’t even bother to watch it in 20 minutes”. But in reality, ours is better. In reality, they watch our shows – they even translate it in their own language.

    If we want to disagree on something or to criticize on something, let’s not take the stance of “our neighbors will say or think this and that about us”. Comparison is fine, but putting words in their mouths is not. I was like this before until I met our neighbors, had discussions with them, and learned how much they look up to us in many aspects, and learned how much better our lives and situation is than them.

    That’s all. I already blogged here :p

    PS
    I mixed my direct comment to you, and my comments to the Filipino people in general. So there are parts there that was not really referring to your post😉

    PS2
    I’m not saying we should not criticize or just keep quiet. And I’m definitely not saying I don’t do those mistakes or that I am better than anyone.

    God Bless ^_^

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