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Federalism for the Philippines: Proposals and Positions It is widely known that pockets in the political and social

arena has been active in proposing a federal structure of government in the Philippines. These calls has been more highlighted after the passing of the 1986 constitution, with almost every administration after President Aquino proposed, or has been proposed to, policies for building a federal government. Arguments for federalism for the Philippines vary - some propose it to promote autonomy, especially in areas with cultural importance, such as Muslims in Mindanao. Others promote the scheme for better accountability and more efficient governance, while some propose it for economic and social reform. While the positions, methods and systems being proposed vary, these groups have been united that a Federal Republic of the Philippines is indeed necessary. These paper will shed light into federalism and its aspects. It will also give a briefing on the current situation of federalization in the country and the contending views for its establishment. A position will be made by the group at the end of the paper. Definition of Terms Federalism Federalism is the theory or advocacy of federal principles for dividing powers between member units and common institutions. Unlike in a unitary state, sovereignty in federal political orders is noncentralized, often constitutionally, between at least two levels so that units at each level have final authority and can be self governing in some issue area. Citizens thus have political obligations to, or have their rights secured by, two authorities. The division of power between the member unit and center may vary, typically the center has powers regarding defense and foreign policy, but member units may also have international roles. The decision-making bodies of member units may also participate in central decision-making bodies. Much recent discussion is spurred by renewed political interest in federalism, coupled with data concerning the requisite and legitimate basis for stability and trust among citizens in federal systems. Academics have addressed the dilemmas and opportunities facing Canada, Australia and states in Europe, among others, where federal arrangements are seen as interesting solutions to accommodate differences among populations divided by ethnic or cultural cleavages yet seeking a common, often democratic, political order.

Decentralization It is the dispersion or distribution of functions and powers; the delegation of power from a central authority to regional and local authorities. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or area such as engineering, management science, political science, political

economy, sociology and economics. Decentralization is also possible in the dispersal of population and employment. Law, science and technological advancements lead to highly decentralized human endeavours. Confederation A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign affairs or a common currency, with the central government being required to provide support for all members. The nature of the relationship among the states constituting a confederation varies considerably. Likewise, the relationship between the member states, the central government and the distribution of powers among them, is highly variable. Some looser confederations are similar to intergovernmental organizations, while tighter confederations may resemble federations. Local Government Local government is a form of public administration which in a majority of contexts, exists as the lowest tier of administration within the a given state. The term is used to contrast with offices at state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or (where appropriate) federal government. Local governments generally act within powers delegated to them by legislation or directives of the higher level of government. In primitive societies the lowest level of local government is the village headman or tribal chief. Features of Federalism One of the most important features of federalism is the presence of relatively autonomous levels of government, the central or national government and the regional or state government. These two governments should have a range of powers that the other cannot encroach upon. The state government usually has a degree of executive and legislative power. Most states is usually ruled by a chief executive, often called governor, and have a state legislative assembly. For example, states in the United States have an elected chief executive called the governor and a legislative assembly which make laws for the state. The same is true for states in Australia, India and Russia, among others. Most states should also be autonomous; and thus to keep that autonomy, they usually have a source of revenue that is independent of the national government. States can also set up taxes on their own. The separation of powers and jurisdiction between the state government and the national government usually vary from country to country. For example, in Germany it is the national government who makes policies while it is the state government who implements them.

Another feature of federalism emphasizes that responsibilities, duties, powers, and jurisdiction between the two levels of government should be defined in a written constitution. Thus the relationship between the state government and the national government can be conducted in a legal framework. The American constitution as well as the Constitution of India and Australia have a part that defines the powers of the two levels of governments. This feature also protects the powers of the state government and the national government. In case of disputes between the state and the local government, the third feature of Federalism steps in. The third feature of federalism is the presence of a constitutional arbiter, usually the judicial branch (the Supreme Court), on case of disputes between the state government and the national government. An example of this is the challenge of 28 states in America against the health care reform law of President Barack Obama which was passed through the federal government. The last feature of Federalism is the presence of institutions that link the state and national government together. This is done as to ensure that the voices and opinions of different states should be heard during policy making. This is usually done through a bicameral legislature; in which one of the houses, usually the upper house, represent the interests of the states. In the United States, each state is represented by two senators in the US Senate. In Australia, each state is represented by twelve senators in the Australian Senate while each territory is represented by two senators. Both the upper houses of Mexico and Brazil represent the interest of the states. Current Situation of Federalism in the Philippines Decentralization in the Philippines Acclaimed as the best and most revolutionary reform laws in Asia, the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160) aims to equally disperse the power from the national government to the local government units (LGUs) and allowing them to be independent in serving their people and attaining their fullest development by using and nurturing their own resources. LGUs are then expected to perform their designated functions to deliver quality governance, provide better public service, and encourage public's participation for country's intensive development. With the enactment of the 1991 LGC, Philippines took a major step forward to decentralization. (World Bank and ADB, 2005) Decentralization in the Philippines is divided into three dimensions: (1) Administrative Decentralization, (2) Fiscal Decentralization, and (3) Institutional Decentralization or Debureaucratization. Each component describes different functions of LGUs and different processes to attain a specific political goal. Administrative Decentralization Administrative decentralization refers to the distribution of functions and responsibilities to LGUs stated in the 1991 LGC. This dimension defines the strategy on how to address critical government needs strengthened governance, increased transparency and accountability, and more

effective and efficient production and delivery of public goods and services. There are three different ways in implementing administrative decentralization: either by deconcentration or delegation, or devolution. (Suzuki and Uchimura, 2009) Deconcentration, the weakest form, redistributes decision-making authority and financial and management responsibilities. However, there is no real transfer of power, only a mere shift of responsibility. On the other hand, delegation is the transfer of responsibilities and authority to semiautonomous entities that respond to the central government but are not totally controlled by it. The goal of devolution is to use the available powers to cater, in tailor-made ways, to the needs of the local people. (DP, 2011) This encourages citizens to be a major influence in formulation and implementation of policies and gives them opportunity to be part of local development. (Nath) Fiscal Decentralization Fiscal decentralization refers to the distribution of financial resources, and use it efficiently to produce additional source or provide an alternative. In the Philippines, intergovernmental fiscal tranfers (IRAs), which account for more than 60% of total local revenue, are major sources for filling the vertical fiscal gaps. Economic Decentralization Economic decentralization involves the harnessing of private sector and non-governmental organizations to promote collaborations, improve interactions to achieve the national goals. (Suzuki and Uchimura, 2009). This also refers to the transfer of certain governmental function to them as in the case of privatization and deregulation. Provisions in the 1987 Constitution The 1987 Constitution has a separate set of provisions for local government, as compiled in Article 10 of the act. While calling for congress to pass a Local Government Code, it also give certain regions, specifically the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera provisions for autonomy. Only the ARMM had an enabling law for establishing an autonomous government, for the CAR failed to approve the formation of an autonomous government in 1990. (Lacdao, 2010). Attempts in Constitutional Change Starting from the administration of President Aquino, various attempts were made in changing the 1987 Constitution. The proposed amendments primarily pivoted around the shift from a unitary to a parliamentary form of government. The first attempt in amending the 1987 Constitution can be traced back from the Ramos Administration. Included in the proposal were the shift from presidential unitary to parliamentary federal form of government, and the lifting of term limits of public officials. A parliament is a national representative

body having supreme legislative power within the state. Under the parliamentary form of government, there is no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative department. The Prime Minister is chosen by the National Assembly from elected representatives of the Parliament with the assistance of a Cabinet which is composed of the heads of various departments or ministries and the executive power is vested upon him. The Prime minister and the members of the cabinet do not have a fixed term of office. Under the parliamentary setup, the legislature can be unicameral or bicameral and the government may either be unitary or federal. The CHA-CHA (Charter Change) was originally part of the policy agenda of Ramos. PIRMA (People's Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action) conducted a signature campaign calling for the amendment of the Constitution through the Peoples Initiative. Chief Justice Andres Narvasa and the Supreme Court however dismissed the petition for lack of enabling laws in the conduct of Peoples Initiative. Had the PIRMA petition been successful, a national plebiscite would have been held for the proposed changes. Moreover, the Estrada Administration witnessed another attempt to amend the Constitution. Coined as CONCORD or Constitutional Correction for Development, the proposal was to amend only the 'restrictive' economic provisions of the constitution that were considered impediments in the entry of foreign investors. Said proposal failed due to strong opposition. Under the present Administration, President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo and some proponents heed the call for Charter Change. GMA even made certain the inclusion of CHA-CHA in her 2004 election campaign platform. By virtue of Executive Order No. 453, GMA created the Consultative Commission and appointed Dr. Jose V. Abueva as its chairman. The Commission proposed, among others, the shift from a bicameral presidential to a unicameral parliamentary-federal form of government; economic liberalization; further decentralization of national government and more empowerment of local governments via such transition. Such proposal to change the constitution for the purpose of changing the form government was opposed by Makati Business Club. In December 2006, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. (JDV) explicitly pushed for the constitutional change process by convening the House of Representatives of the Philippines and the Senate of the Philippines into a Constituent Assembly or "Con-Ass". Strong opposition once more staged, which threatened to conduct a major massive protest through a prayer rally. A few days before the scheduled prayer rally, Speaker JDV however gave up on the Constituent Assembly mode and gave way for a Constitutional Convention mode for CHA-CHA. None of which pushed through. The Recent Federalism Debate Recently, there have been discussions of changing our form of government from the unitary system of government to the federalist form of government. What could have triggered the debate? The Federalism Debate is traced back from the dire need to bring peace in Mindanao. The

Government of the Philippines, led by the Government Peace Negotiating Panel, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). The MOA, supposedly signed on 5 August 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contained the framework for the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity wherein the entire Muslim-Palawan-Sulu geographical territory will be ceded to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front an establishment thereof of a separate and distinct Republic of the Philippines. The creation of the BJE is henceforth analogous to federalism, which apparently is unconstitutional. The MOA grants the will-be-expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) its own basic law, an internal security force, a system of banking and finance, civil service, education and legislative institutions, full authority to develop and dispose of minerals and natural resources. As coined by legal and political scholars, the BJE will be a state within a state. This is unconstitutional because our present Constitution does not recognize the creation of such entity. Making it constitutional entails the revision of the 1987 Constitution the changing of the form of government from unitary to federalism. Therewith, the Philippine form of government has to be shifted from unitary to federalism. Pursuant to the MOA, Rep. Monico O. Puentevella on May 7, 2008, filed House Concurrent Resolution No. 15 which supported Senate Resolution No. 10 of Senator Nene Pimentel which was backed by 16senators.The joint Senate resolution called for the creation of 11 federal states in the country, by convening of Congress into a constituent assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a federal system of government. Senator Aquilino Pimentel, a major proponent of the move to adopt a federal system of government, in a primer presented at the annual convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines at Tacloban City last April 2002 identified two main reasons why the federal system is better than the present unitary system. According to him the federal system has the structures needed to: a) hasten the economic development among the various regions of the country by allocating power which at present is concentrated in the central government to the regions that will be converted to federal states. The devolved powers will allow the federal states to mobilize their resources for development without being hindered or controlled by the central government; and b) dissipate the causes of the recurrent armed Moro challenges against the government and, thereby, lay the basis for a just and lasting peace in Central and Southwestern Mindanao. In a research report of the Center for Social Policy and Governance of the Kalayaan College, Abueva enumerated the theory behind Philippine federalization. The following are some of the hypotheses for the proposed shift from a unitary system to a federal system. 1. The Philippines has already achieved sufficient national unity and democratization, including a measure of decentralization and local autonomy. The latter will follow about a decades

transition of regionalization and increased local autonomy involving both the national government and the local governments. 2. The 1987 Constitutions design for the development of participatory democracy, local autonomy, and an active role for civil society in governance was a result of the growing difficulties and frustration with the countrys highly centralized unitary system during the authoritarian regime that started in September 1972. 3. Federalism will respond to the demands of local leaders for their release from the costly, timeconsuming, stifling, and demoralizing effects of excessive centralization and controls by the national government in the present unitary system. 4. The structures, processes, and responsibilities of the federation will challenge and energize the people and their state and local governments. Such further democratization will encourage creativity, initiative and innovation, spur interstate competition, and foster state and local selfreliance instead of continued dependency. 5. A federal system will greatly increase the capacity of the people and the government to deal with the countrys problems. They will be more interested in state and local governance because it is closer to them and will deal with under-development local poverty, unemployment, injustice, inadequate social services and infrastructure, and low productivity. 6. Consolidating the 80 provinces of the Philippines into 8 to 10 larger, integrated and more efficient and viable regions called states, substantial, faster and equitable development for the whole country is more likely to be achieved. 7. By participating in meaningful and challenging politics and governance at the state and local levels, the people will be more empowered than if they continued to be alienated from their weak local governments and spectators in the affairs of far away national government institutions in the nations capital. Moreover, the peoples liberty will be protected by the further dispersion of power in the government and the society. 8. By governing the nation through interdependence and interaction with the states as regional governments, the federal government will be better able to achieve and sustain national unity and identity. At the same time, the states will be able to nurture, protect and enhance their regional cultures and contribute to national cultural development. Together, the federal government and the states will be able to develop and sustain the nations cultural diversity and social pluralism. 9. A federal system will also be better able to respond to the external threats to national security and the challenges of globalization by strengthening the nation-states capacity to deal with its critical internal problems and development. 10. As a special metropolitan government, Metro Manila, the present national capital, will have the structure of a state and will be able to deal more effectively with its problems as the nations

principal metropolis. A planned new federal capital at the former Clark Air Base in Central Luzon will enable the federal government to function more efficiently by having the principal institutions and offices of the federation located in proximity to one another. Advantages and Disadvantages One advantage in a federal government is that the government remains close to people. Each province has political, social and economic problems peculiar to the region itself. Provincial government representatives live in proximity to the people and are most of the time from the same community, so they are in a better position to understand these problems and offer unique solutions for them. This expands government on national, state, and local levels, giving people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government. A federal government encourages development of the nation in a decentralized and regional manner and allows for unique and innovative methods for attacking social, economic and political problems. It offers representation to different populations. Citizens of various provinces may have different aspirations, ethnicity and follow different cultures. The central government can sometimes overlook these differences and adopt policies which cater to the majority. This is where the regional government steps in. While formulating policies, local needs, tastes and opinions are given due consideration by the state governments. Rights of the minorities are also protected. State governments have the freedom to adopt policies which may not be followed nationally or by any other state. This gives federalism a room for innovation and experimentation. Two local governments can have two different approaches to bring reforms in any area of public domain, be it taxation or education. The comparison of the results of these policies can give a clear idea of which policy is better and thus, can be adopted in the future. Division of work between the central and the regional governments leads to optimum utilization of resources. The central government can concentrate more on international affairs and defense of the country while the provincial government can cater to the local needs. Federalism also ensures the separation of powers and prevents tyranny. Even if one person or group took control of all three branches of the federal government, federalism ensures that state governments would still function independently. Federalism, therefore, fulfills the framers vision of a governmental structure that ensures liberty. Lastly, it fosters state loyalties. Many people feel close ties to their home state, and federalism maintains that connection by giving power to the states and it provides a barrier to the dominance of the majority. However, the sharing of power between the central government and the states includes both advantages and disadvantages of federation. Sometimes there can be overlapping of work and subsequent confusion regarding who is responsible for what. It can lead to duplication of government

and inefficient, over-lapping or contradictory making of policies in different parts of the country. Another disadvantage would be that federalism can lead to over-government that will eventually result to corruption because of the too many elected representatives with overlapping roles. Federalism can also lead to inequality between the states and lead to unhealthy competition and rivalry between them. There can be a rebellion by a regional government against the national government too. Both scenarios pose a threat to the country's integrity. Also, natural resources, industries, employment opportunities differ from region to region. Hence earnings and wealth are unevenly distributed. Rich states offer more opportunities and benefits to its citizens than poor states can. Thus, the gap between rich and poor states widens. Federalism can make the state governments selfish and concerned only about their own region's progress. They can formulate policies which might be detrimental to other regions. For example, pollution from a province which is promoting industrialization in a big way can affect another region which depends solely on agriculture and cause crop damage. It is also said that federal system of government is very expensive as more people are elected to office, both at the state and the center, than necessary. Thus, it is often said that only rich countries can afford it.

Challenges to Philippine Federalism Research has shown that the Philippines has a long tradition of a unitary form of government since the Spanish period, and with this tradition, it seems that people are stuck thinking that it is the appropriate form of government for the country (Brillantes and Moscare, 2002). While "imperial Manila" has taken steps in promoting local autonomy, including the introduction of a local government code in 1959, 1983 and 1991, it has been noted that overcentralization of powers still exist. Local governments, expected to act entreprenurial and be bold in developing their communities, still depend on "allotments" to fund their operations rather than generating their own resources. Lack of resources and capabilities at the local level and the inability of local institutions to cope with the demands of a decentralized set-up can be blamed for this. In the preparation for a federal system in the country, the national government must start to be more decentralized. By allowing the local governments (and later on, states) to be self-reliant, local leaders will be trained on the different roles they will have to fulfill in a new, federal set-up. Capabilitybuilding, and not just mere changes in structure is needed for the local governments to function effectively. They must also be oriented to respond to community needs. By introducing federalism in the Philippines, there are issues and concerns regarding it that has yet to be confronted. (Brillantes, 2002). Federalism, for most people, is seen to be a solution for regional aspirations for autonomy and end war and regional disparities, especially in Mindanao. But for

the most part, some groups such as the Moros, want a "separate nation", and not autonomy. In this case, there is a need for space to define issues between the future federal government and the separatists, convincing them that a federal state is an acceptable alternative. Another challenged to be faced in pushing for a federal system is the need for a broad and participatory engagement in the deliberation process. While members of the academe, civil society and other interests groups were engaged in pushing for reform, most of them had to "back off".(Rodriguez, 2011) More than just pushing for federalism by stating its advantages and how it can reform political and social institutions, there is a need to convince people on how federalism will impact their everyday lives. Various sectors must be allowed and encouraged to participate, and time must be given to thoroughly discuss and debate the different proposals being proposed. Conclusion After the Philippines promulgated a new constitution in 1987, the country has faced a number of proposals and attempts to change the country's form of government from a unitary to federal form of government. None of these proposals have been successfully passed or put into a national referendum. Examining the literature on federalism, whether in the Philippines or abroad would show why federalism is, indeed, needed for the country. Federalism would ensure better accountability, for elected officials are closer to their districts and will better represent their interests. It can spur economic growth as states determine ways that is applicable to local resources and strengths. Finally, a federal government can ensure social and cultural development, as regional aspirations and cultures can be protected and developed while still ensuring national unity. The group concluded that a federal form of government should be introduced in the Philippines. However, we reserve giving a comment on the form of the federal government to be established, for we believe it should be determined and debated in a constitutional assembly or convention.

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