What Federalism? Precisely, That Is The Question!

MANILA: I am for Federalism and Rodrigo Duterte is for federalism and Mar Roxas is against it, but I'm voting for Roxas as President anyway. Roxas for his Vision. (For more on my endorsement, see my essay "Considering Mar Roxas," 12 March 2016, A Magazine Called Love, blogspot.com.)

Bongbong Marcos agrees with Duterte's proposal for federalism; no, I'm not endorsing such Federalism, but I'm voting for him as Vice President anyway. Marcos for his Leadership. (See my essay, "Bongbong Marcos: The Son Has Risen," 28 March 2016, same blog, blogspot.com.)

But Duterte and Roxas and Marcos are all wrong on Federalism or, rather, they all have a narrow view of it. Clue: Why shouldn't we invent our own Federalism, one that is popular, dictated by the people, not the Central Government?

"Roxas says Duterte-backed federalism would result in higher taxes" – Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez (28 March 2016, GMA Network, gmanetwork.com). He is correct, if you are looking at the old model of federalism, as he is. The Central Government taxes you; The State also taxes you.

"Federalism is the solution! – Duterte" – Nekka Pablo (09-15 May 2015, Southern Leyte Times, southernleytetimes.com). "He (said) he was currently touring the country to push for Federalism, which he believes is the best solution for Mindanao." And that, my dear Mayor Duterte, is a limited view: You are thinking only of Mindanao?! Actually, you are thinking only of Davao. You are not thinking holistically: The whole of the Philippines is greater than a thousand Davaos combined.

Duterte also says, "I disagree with President Aquino who believes the Bangsamoro Act would stop the present killings in Muslim Mindanao." I agree with Duterte. And no, I say, the Bangsamoro Basic Law will not start the development of Bangsamoro – it will only create a superstate that alone is even more powerful than all of the national government.

Peter Laviña says, speaking for Duterte, Federalism "hopes to address the over-concentration of power and resources in the national government and the neglect of the various regions' vital role in their own development." Laviña is correct.

Actually, the Local Government Code mandates that the LGUs exercise so much power that the national government used to have, thanks to Senator Aquilino Pimentel Sr, Father of Devolution, But the control of finances is still with Imperial Manila. Under the LGC, devolution is not enough; Federalism will complete it, if we create a proper Federal Government.

How do you solve a problem like Manila? Federalism. Thanks for the original proposal, Senator Pimentel, Sir.

"Federalism is a system of government in which power is shared between the central, or federal government and state governments" – Quia (24 March 2016, quia.com). That is in the United States of America. From the same source we have these for Federalism:

The Central Government has these powers (random list): declare war, maintain armed forces, regulate interstate and foreign trade, admit new states, establish post offices, set standard weights and measures, coin money, establish foreign policy, make all laws necessary and proper for carrying out delegated powers.

The State Government has these powers (random list): establish and maintain schools, establish local governments, regulate business within the State, make marriage laws, provide for public safety, assume other powers not delegated to the Central Government or prohibited to the State.

The Shared powers are: maintain law and order, levy taxes, borrow money, charter banks, establish courts, provide for public welfare.

That's the old concept of Federalism. Today, the Central Government under Federalism is too powerful it's a scandal.

Why can't we be original with our own federalist government? Why do we have to be a copycat?

That is why I am proposing a federal government that is upside down, that is, much of the power resides in the people (each of The States) and the Central Government is under the control of The States acting as one, unlike all other federalist governments in the world today. This is People's Federalism. That explains the image I show above.

Such as: The Central Government can declare war on any other country in the world, but the policies to govern that war must emanate from a common desire of The States, who will then set the policies in waging that war. It can establish foreign policy, but only with the recommendation and/or approval of The States. The States contributes to the budget of the Central Government but they control their own budgets.

Veto power resides on The States acting as One, not the Head of The Central Government (President/Prime Minister).

This is Upside Down Federalism, where the people call the shots through their states, not the Federal Government.

The Power of Recall resides in the people: The States can dismiss the President/Prime Minister if they want to and replace him with another at any time.

There is only little sharing of powers between the Central Government on one hand and The States on the other hand. The Central Government is emasculated, unlike in the US. The States are The Real Government. That is to say, The States are much more powerful than the Central Government; one is only the servant of the others, not the other way around.

The States will act independently of the Central Government in initiating and pursuing their own economic agenda; the Central Government will impose common policies on such agenda, but these policies will come from The States themselves.

That way, Imperial Manila will be thwarted right from the very beginning.

Andrew James Masigan has an old column about "The pros and cons of Federalism" (28 June 2015, Manila Bulletin, mb.com.ph); one of the cons he points out is:

(Federalism) promotes uneven distribution of wealth. Since the national government will have no say on how each region develops, they will develop in an uncoordinated fashion and at varying paces. Those lucky enough to have good leaders and those blessed with natural resources will create wealth faster than those without. For federal nations, it is not uncommon to have wealthy communities like Madrid living alongside poorer ones like Extremadura. The same thing can happen to us.

Masigan is looking at Federalism with a jaundiced eye. The States will develop according to the genius distributed by God to them. They will develop by themselves – why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't Our State develop faster and better than Your State? If Our State is wealthier than Your State, you're using your genius less.

There is another thing that Masigan points out as a con of Federalism:

The bureaucracy will expand. The very nature of federalism necessitates more bureaucrats in both the national and regional levels. More bureaucrats mean more bureaucracy. This can lead to inefficiency and corruption.

My response to that is: Who said the bureaucracy cannot be tamed, or cannot be eliminated altogether, is not using his creative head. Or is simply being a cockeyed pessimist! Corruption exists because of bureaucracy.

What Federalism? Precisely, we have to define our own, not simply copy from others. Those who are opposed to Federalism are simply looking at the past, not the future.

The Federalism I am proposing will show that power resides in the people, a True Democracy. We Filipinos will be, as it were, Reinventing the Wheel.

Yes! to Federalism as we Filipinos shall define it with our genius as a people. We have to have Vision. If we allow our gaze to be limited by the views of naysayers, we will never get to anywhere but here.



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