July 19, 2018

The 2 Faces of Philippine Federalism

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  • During the campaign for the 2016 elections, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who was then a candidate eyeing the Philippine presidency under PDP-Laban party, caught the attention of the Filipinos by having his platforms focused on fighting crime and corruption.

    His agenda to fight misdemeanor related to crime and drugs includes bringing the death penalty back for drug trafficking, kidnapping, rape, robbery, and homicide; and increasing police salaries from Php 75,000 to Php 100,000 within three years.

    Image courtesy of Kim Eniego

    While these political manifestos can easily sway one’s choice to vote the candidate without a hitch, the Filipino people should also consider other aspects related not only to the fight against crime and corruption but to the economic and agricultural facets as well.

    Going back, Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano repeatedly unveiled their plans for the country’s economic growth during campaigns and conferences held by local government officials with the presence of the press.

    One of Duterte’s economic ambitions include having to hold a constitutional convention to study the shift of our government to a federal system.

    The Federal System

    President Rodrigo Roa Duterte receives the copy of the proposed Federal Constitution of the Philippines from former Chief Justice and Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution Chairperson Reynato Puno during a handover ceremony at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace on July 9, 2018. Also in the photo are (from left to right) Atty. Lawrence Wacnang, Atty. Ali Balindong, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Atty. Susan Ordinario, and Atty. Gideon Mortel./PHOTO Toto Lozano/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

    In a federal government, the Philippines will be divided into various states that shall hold autonomy by having a government of their own, and shall only be in constitutional accordance with the central governing body during times when national defense or foreign policy is the main concern.

    The Philippines’ wealth will be allocated fairly among local governments—it has been widely reported that in 2015, 35 percent of the Philippines’ budget were all given to Manila even if the city only represents 14 percent of the country’s population.

    In federalism, regional authorities will retain a larger portion of their income, and will only be required to give a small part to the state government they fall under. For an instance, a regular employee who pays a slather of tax monthly can now gain more from his or her honorarium because the tax requirement will now be less than what he or she regularly pays.

    Federalism will have a great contribution to the economic development of the country simply because Filipinos will now engage themselves in working outside their own regions in the same way Filipinos choose to work overseas (they may receive more incentives outside their area).

    More stock and shareholders are also expected to put up their businesses outside their respective states to get away from crowded areas such as their own, which will create more jobs and opportunities for unemployed Filipinos.

    Will Federalism be good for the Philippines?

    Although this may be the case, every positive political affair has its negative counterpart. Adopting a federal system may create or worsen the issue of political dynasties, the domination of a specific group or family in the national government.

    This may also open the issue of alienation and competition between local governments, and this seemingly healthy political agenda may result in non-symmetrical development among states—some areas may or may not be as fortunate as the others when it comes to running their own government.

    The expense of the current administration will also be more than what is expected. Pushing for a federal system will not come cheap, and billions of pesos will be spent on building state governments and electing local officials.

    As of this writing, the pros and cons of President Duterte’s economic impact in our country are yet to be proven. At the end of every political or economic discourse, the fate of a nation can only be dictated by its people.

    Written By: Jove Moya

    Recent Comments


    4 months ago

    Great idea but what people think about it.

    5 months ago

    this one needs a follow up report once the federal government ihas started

    10 months ago

    Ending was powerful. Kudos

    10 months ago

    love this primer! im a mother of three here in gensan and i find this article to be so balanced keep it up 😀

    10 months ago
    What do you think about this article?
    ★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★


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