After President Rodrigo Roa Duderte`s first State of the Nation Address, the idea of federalist transition of government put into action by urging both chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate. Because of this, the concept of federalism has been the eye of everyone, especially the critics of the Philippine government. It became one of the priority legislative agenda. It is very observable that the Duterte Administration has been working for a drastic change in the form of government. The question now is, would changing the charter be an appropriate and best step in solving political and economic problems? Or will this just cure the effects of our country`s problem and not being able to put an action on its symptoms?
Arguments for federalism for Philippines vary, some promote it for autonomy, especially in areas with cultural importance, such as Muslims in Mindanao. Others promote scheme for better accountability and more efficient governance, while some promote it for economic and social reform. This position paper aim to give the authors` point of view regarding the proposed change of the charter to federalist form of government. This includes the rationale for the opinion of the students.
The authors are not in favor of federalism in the Philippines. The government surely has their reason why they wanted to implement this change but the authors don’t see this applicable in our country. Here are some reasons authors see as a disadvantage of implementing this change. First, federalism proposes to divide the powers between member units and common institutions which means that under the new proposed constitution, the Philippines will be divided into 18 federated regions. The authors believe that not all the regions in the Philippines will be able to stand on its own. Only a few region are capable of raising their own revenue and taxes. They also believe that the richer regions will have more resources to enhance their competitiveness which may result to a developmental gap between some regions. For the authors, the country is already divided enough by language, religion and inequality. Enough of being divided, what the country needs is unity. Second, federalism may create confusion. Since the every region is on its own, then laws in each region may also be different from the others. And because the law varies in each region, people who travel or move to a new destination may find themselves violating the law without realizing it. This makes it difficult to know if you’re actions are “right” or “wrong” as a citizen.
Third, it may result to what they call “pass the buck” which means that no one will really want to take accountability of failed policies. Nothing is done because everyone will be busy trying to assign blame and each group will feel that they have correct ethical or moral position. Also, federalism might stop national policies from being implemented. Local laws can hamper the passage of regional laws. Regional laws can hamper the passage of national laws. Federalism effectively disperses powers throughout a nation, but that also means the creation of national policies can be incredibly difficult. Unless there are exceptions in place for each geographic region so that individualized needs can be met in some way, it can take more than generation to pass national-level legal changes. In addition to this, federal system could further strengthen the power of political dynasties in the Philippines. With the set-up of the political dynasty, it seems as if positions of power are exclusively dominated by a particular clan or family. There will be unequal opportunities and will limit the chances of other common Filipino who wanted to serve the people.
Also, in a federal system, billions of pesos will have to be spent on setting up state governments and the delivery of state services. States will then have to spend for the elections of their own officials. Not all the regions have the ability or capacity to address this need. The authors believe that federalism will just bring more division than unity in the Philippines. People should keep in mind that not all region are gifted like others. There’s a lot who still needs support from government. Not all the region has the ability to prosper and develop successfully. A major concern is that while some states may progress faster, the converse is also true because other states may devolve faster as well and the national government is not there to back them up.
The author feel that the Philippines is not just ready for this huge change. They strongly oppose to the thought of forgetting about other regions and just focusing on your own region, where in fact we are living on same country. Our country is known for unity and that was seen from our heroes who fought together in order to free us. They didn’t fought just for a certain area but they fought for our whole country. Just like this, our country should stand together and not leave the other regions on its own. If one area is prospering then it should help the other. We should prosper as a country and not alone. For we are called a “country” for a reason and that’s enough reason for the authors to oppose on federalism.
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