The fed­eral form

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

Faith­ful to his pledge, the Pres­i­dent loss no time in per­suad­ing the Filipino peo­ple for the adop­tion of a Fed­eral sys­tem of gov­ern­ment, vice, the cur­rent uni­tary sys­tem. Prom­i­nent in­di­vid­u­als, civic and pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tions, no­tably the In­te­grated Bar of the Philip­pines took the cud­gels in sup­port of Fed­er­al­ism. In fair­ness, this lec­ture-type discourse is highly ed­u­ca­tional. It is felt though that the mer­its and other­wise of the two po­lit­i­cal sys­tems must be con­veyed in a lay­man’s level of un­der­stand­ing. I am say­ing this be­cause the is­sue of Fed­er­al­ism is no longer the es­o­teric con­cern of the in­tel­lec­tual mind. In this stage of our ex­is­tence, a sys­temic shift in po­lit­i­cal struc­ture is a paramount con­cern of or­di­nary cit­i­zens. The chal­lenge, thus, is to en­lighten the man on the street on the salient as­pects of Fed­er­a­tion if only to come up with a wise po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion— the choice to re­tain the present uni­tary, highly cen­tral­ized sys­tem or the chang­ing of the guards by es­tab­lish­ing a Fed­eral type of gov­ern­ment. As this is a life-chang­ing chal­lenge, it is help­ful to share some op­er­a­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Fed­eral and Uni­tary sys­tems.

To be­gin with, “Fed­er­al­ism is a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment in which States form a union by grant­ing a cen­tral gov­ern­ment supreme power in com­mon or na­tional af­fairs, while re­tain­ing their in­de­pen­dent ex­is­tence and con­trol over lo­cal af­fairs.” It must be noted that in Fed­er­al­ism there is a pre­cise sep­a­rate hi­er­ar­chy of pow­ers be­tween the Mother State and the Fed­eral States which at­tribute is clearly ab­sent in a uni­tary form. Fed­er­a­tions to­day in­clude the United States, Canada and Aus­tralia. In the United States, the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment is supreme in de­fense, for­eign af­fairs, the postal and mone­tary sys­tem. All lev­els of gov­ern­ment may levy taxes and spend money but the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment ac­counts for the greater por­tion of pub­lic spend­ing. We have yet to see the ma­jor com­po­nents of the en­vi­sioned Fed­eral form of gov­ern­ment for the Philip­pines.

On the other hand, in Philip­pine con­text, a uni­tary form of gov­ern­ment is where the Pres­i­dent ex­er­cises al­most ab­so­lute con­trol and su­per­vi­sion over na­tional af­fairs, in­clud­ing su­per­vi­sion over lo­cal gov­ern­ment units. In fine, un­der this set-up the lo­cal gov­ern­ments are not gen­uinely em­pow­ered to de­velop their own de­vel­op­ment plans based on ex­ist­ing lo­cal re­sources, pri­or­i­ties and even cul­tural ori­en­ta­tion. Such in­dis­pens­able power to solve en­demic so­cial and eco­nomic prob­lems at­ten­dant in an archipelagic state is ex­er­cised for them from a com­mand post in Mala­canang.

The call of the mo­ment is a sys­tem that al­lows free­dom of ac­tion in a very fun­da­men­tal as­pect of life that re­quires on- sight ac­tion not long-dis­tance pre­scrip­tion. Cer­tainly, there is another faster, safer and surer way to achieve re­form than by fur­ther em­pow­er­ing and pam­per­ing a uni­tary gov­ern­ment that im­poses its judg­ment on the whole spec­trum of Philip­pine life. Fed­er­al­ism is more likely to achieve gen­uine progress and right wrongs than the present dis­pen­sa­tion that im­posed cen­tral­ized so­lu­tions. This is be­cause Fed­er­al­ism will per­mit an im­me­di­ate sub­sti­tu­tion of lo­cal judg­ments and pri­or­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly in rev­enue-shar­ing ar­range­ment to achieve a more ra­tio­nal dis­tri­bu­tion of gov­ern­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and tax­ing pow­ers within the State.


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