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Under federalism power is divided or shared between the central government and local state governments.

Currently, the Philippines employs a


unitary form of government with much of the power decisions, policies, and programs emerging from the central government. It is a form of
government where sovereignty is constitutionally shared between a central governing authority and constituent political units called states or
regions. In basic terms, it will break the country into autonomous regions with a national government focused only on interests with nationwide
bearing: foreign policy and defense, for example. The autonomous regions or states, divided further into local government units, will have
primary responsibility over developing their industries, public safety, education, healthcare, transportation, recreation, and culture. These states
will have more power over their finances, development plans, and laws exclusive to ther jurisdiction.
The central government and states can also share certain powers. We presently have a unitary form of government. Most administrative powers
and resources are with the national government based in Metro Manila. In federalism, the states will have the power to make these decisions with
little or no interference from the national government.

Once we are under a federal system, all component states collect their own taxes and
contribute only a small fraction of their revenues to the federal or central government for
only three centralized functions, namely: National Defense, including the National Police,
Justice and Foreign Affairs. All the rest shall be left to each state, including health, education,
labor and employment, trade, transportation, communication, agriculture, agrarian reform,
justice environment, natural resources. The states will manage mining and forest matters
and shall control all natural resources.

Increasing the autonomy of local governments will ultimately amount to nothing if local leaders
are incompetent and incapable of properly utilizing expanded powers and resources.

Indeed, the primary task in the pursuit of this goal is to improve the quality of local
leadership.

In a unitary form of government, there is one level of government the national government. All
other forms of government are subordinate to the central government.
In a federal form of government, there is a clear division of authority between national
government and the state or regional government. The central government will remain more
powerful than the state because of its authority over national concerns.

For example, in a federal government, the national government retains sole power in the areas of
foreign affairs, national defense, monetary and fiscal policies and constitutional issues. The
central government will, therefore, continue to have sole power to make treaties, control the
armed forces, and a common currency.
federalism supposedly promotes more equitable distribution of government revenues under
a scheme of "what they collect, they keep," as compared to our current system, where major
tax revenues are centrally administered at the national level.
federalism supposedly promotes more equitable distribution of government revenues under
a scheme of "what they collect, they keep," as compared to our current system, where major
tax revenues are centrally administered at the national level.

when taxes are administered at the "state" level in a federal system, the LGUs
and municipalities will have more funds available to them compared to what they are getting
in the current system.

Once we are under a federal system, all component states collect their own taxes and
contribute only a small fraction of their revenues to the federal or central government for
only three centralized functions, namely: National Defense, including the National Police,
Justice and Foreign Affairs. All the rest shall be left to each state, including health, education,
labor and employment, trade, transportation, communication, agriculture, agrarian reform,
justice environment, natural resources. The states will manage mining and forest matters
and shall control all natural resources. Each state will have its own unicameral congress and
a separate court of appeals. There will be only one centralized Supreme Court and one
federal senate with three senators from each state.

They quickly harp on the promise of enhanced local autonomy without even considering the
readiness of the local leadership to assume the big responsibility of local governments under
federalism, as if the fitness of the current crop for this form of government were already a given.
Note that one of the most important lessons in the discourse on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic
Law is the recognition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as a failed experiment.
The lesson being: Increasing the autonomy of local governments will ultimately amount to
nothing if local leaders are incompetent and incapable of properly utilizing expanded powers and
resources.
Indeed, the primary task in the pursuit of this goal is to improve the quality of local
leadership.
the transition to federalism also requires the elevation of the electorate to a higher level of
political consciousness. First and foremost, Filipinos must have a clear understanding of what
this massive sociopolitical undertaking entails. And the best way to commence with this task
is to abandon the populist approach that some supporters of federalism are taking.

In a unitary form of government, there is one level of government the national government. All
other forms of government are subordinate to the central government.
In a federal form of government, there is a clear division of authority between national
government and the state or regional government. The central government will remain more
powerful than the state because of its authority over national concerns.
For example, in a federal government, the national government retains sole power in the areas of
foreign affairs, national defense, monetary and fiscal policies and constitutional issues. The
central government will, therefore, continue to have sole power to make treaties, control the
armed forces, and a common currency. The Constitutional bodies will remain Supreme Court,
Central Bank, and Comelec.
federalism supposedly promotes more equitable distribution of government revenues under
a scheme of "what they collect, they keep," as compared to our current system, where major
tax revenues are centrally administered at the national level.
when taxes are administered at the "state" level in a federal system, the LGUs
and municipalities will have more funds available to them compared to what they are getting
in the current system.
"autonomous independent states under one federal governing body

Because the highly urbanized areas have greater revenues from other sources, more of their
budget can be financed with these other sources. In the current scheme, it is actually the
"generosity" of the larger cities which contribute to the development of the
smaller communities. If all tax revenues were kept at the point they originated, we might
actually see the wealthier municipalities getting more income and the poorer ones getting
less, resulting in a worsening wealth concentration problem.
So, do we need federalism to promote equitable distribution of revenues? It does not seem
so. The current system actually looks good in structure, but what we urgently need is to
implement an effective framework or mechanism of oversight, accountability and
transparency to ensure that our resources are being used fairly and equitably.

Federalism would increase the cost of administration and government.


Each state will have its own executive department which will carry out the functions of the
government such as taxation, administration of basic services, budgeting, etc.
incremental and continuing costs of running this type of government, and the potential additional
burden to citizens in the form of higher taxes.
To sum up, there is no assurance that LGUs and regions will receive more funding under a
federal system compared to our present system. What is likely to happen instead is that the
revenues of high income communities/regions will rise further, and those regions who have
lower revenue generating capacity may have their funding reduced.r Also, federalism (if
implemented in the way I described above) will impose additional governing costs and
inefficiency, since it adds a new layer of government, and each state will have its own set of
governing bodies and functions independent of other states. Also, taxes will be imposed at both
national and state levels

What we need to resolve our fundamental governance problems are measures that enhance
transparency, accountability and efficiency of our government, and not a mere change in the
government structure.

The argument for federalism has not changeda centralized form of government leads to neglect
of areas far from the seat of power.
federal form of government would be more effective in dealing with problems peculiar to
Mindanao compared with a centralized form of government.
We all know that Mindanao produces as much as 60 percent of the gross domestic product but
only about 40 percent returns to it in terms of services,
Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
but federalism is a long-term project as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution.

federalism is a long-term project as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution but


the Bangsamoro which is going to adopt a parliamentary system of government, can be a pilot
project.
There are so many things to consider in adopting federalism, he said: geographical cohesion and
competence of l local government units (LGUs).
Duterte told MILF officials led by Ghazali Jaafar that he would convene a Constitutional
Commission to amend the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government into federalism
but if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to
pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.
In the Federal System of government which Duterte and the stalwarts of his party, PDP Laban,
are advocating, the Muslims of the Philippines, with an estimated population of about 12-million,
are promised two Federal States - one of the Bangsamoro tribes in the main island of Mindanao
and another for the seafaring tribes in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

There are two essential things for Bangsamoro autonomy, namely: the capability
to be adequately self-sustaining, not dependent on the central government; and some
degree of compensatory justice for Muslims. The ARMM has only limited autonomy,
mainly over the economic development of the region. The central government remains in
control of defense, [mancial and foreign policies. Senator Aquilino Pimentel is quoted to
have said that '"unless the Philippine Constitution is drastically changed or amended, it is
impossible to grant genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro people."
Federalism presupposes the establishment of component states or selfgoverning
regional governments comprising the federal union. It is not necessarily
incompatible with the political aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for
statehood.
The establishment of Bangsamoro statehood will be a forward step towards the
advocacy for a Federal Constitution. The Bangsamoro Nation may opt to federate
with the Philippine state or enter into a free state association

that federalizing with the quality of local leadership still at an untenable state would only
make socioeconomic development more inequitable than it is.

Government
A federal Philippines means that a measure of the chief executives power like the control of
tax revenues, designation of official languages is devolved to the regions and provinces to
allow them the freedom to effectively administer themselves under the ultimate power of the
central government. The regions and provinces are now organized into federal states,
ideally created by ethnic lines and families or what are called ethnic states.
The diversity of Philippine culture, as well as economic reasons like the existence of potentially
excellent ports (which usually become the center of progress), demands that there be 22 ethnic
states. The Philippines will retain its presidential executive and bicameral congress; no shift to a
national parliamentary system is necessary. However, the ethnic states have the discretion over
their system of government, and may choose to adapt a different kind.
Politically an ethnic state may be a unitary state, which is a plain conurbation of towns and cities;
they may also be a state composed of provinces, with the capital being a state territory, much like
Manila in the regional sense; or a state with a province or two as substates. The forms of state
government possible are:
1. the current gubernatorial system, where a governor is elected by popular vote,
2. a parliamentary system, where towns and cities elect representatives instead of mayors,
and these representatives in turn elect the 'chief minister' as it was called by the MILF,
3. a gubernatorial-parliamentary system, applicable in federal states with substates: for
example, the State of Tagalog elects a governor by statewide popular vote, but its
province, Marinduque, elects their own chief minister at the same time,
4. A revival of the old rajahnate system in the democratic form, similar to parliamentary
system only that the chief minister is called rajah and the mayors, who now convene into
a parliament, are called datus. This is better applied in homogenous states and provinces.
In states with provinces or substates, the rajah is ideally elected by the province or
substate only, with a governor chosen by popular vote of the entire state.

Economy
The economy of a federal Philippines is characterized by genuine fiscal decentralization and
regional specialization. Fiscal decentralization is the distribution of financial functions from the
national government to the regions; and specialization happens where federal states, their cities
and provinces, devote their resources to separate industries.

Fiscal decentralization was begun with the Local Government Code of 1991, where
expenditures, agency services and operations are transferred from Manila to the provinces, cities
and municipalities. Did this work, though?
If local governments are to carry out decentralized functions effectively, they must have an
adequate level of income, as well as the authority to decide on their expenditures both
problematic in the Philippines.
1. Are you familiar with SARO? NCA? GAA? Co//mplicated stuff. But here's what it all
means: The local government cannot spend without Manila's thumbs up no allocation,
no allotment, no release. And that means no incentive for the local government
to save and manage their expenditures, because budget is fixed, there's no discretion for
them to change it, and if they do get some savings, they'd just get less allotment the next
year.
2. Local governments have failed to raise enough revenues to cover expanded costs, leading
to dependence to the national government for additional funds, which means a weakening
local fiscal autonomy. How the local government can raise more funds? This leads us to
our second economic concept.
It's not only Metro Manila that is the potential commercial powerhouse of the Philippines.
There's Cebu and Davao. Then you add Batangas, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Dagupan,
Tacloban, Dadiangas (General Santos), Laoag, Albay (Legazpi), Cotabato. ... You have over 20
potentially strong commercial centers in Asia. And there are over 20 kinds of industries in the
world. Why are these cities not doing well enough?
Answer's easy: Because we have a unitary government, all energy is focused on Manila, that's
why Manila is congested beyond its physical capacity, and the other cities are left in the lurch.
Federalism, that's what we need. And when we do become federal, that's when we answer the
real question: How can the cities outside Metro Manila raise more revenues?
They specialize, of course. They don't have to be in the same industry as the others. They can
pursue separate industry and be good and powerful in it.
And there happens to be a huge vacuum of industries in the country. We merely export electronic
parts to other countries; why not make whole appliances in Iligan? We don't produce computers;
why not develop some in Iloilo? We import our fabric from India; why not host a cotton industry
in Antique, whose natives have to migrate to Iloilo to make decent living? We get our milk from
New Zealand; gosh, Masbate's an entire ranch of an island. Then maybe we can finally decongest
Metro Manila by extracting the industrial center and putting it in Davao, and perhaps get a more
meaningful cultural center right at the heart of the archipelago, in Cebu, where it is accessible to
all Philippine peoples. But these cities can hardly shine, because they are not empowered.
When the different cities do specialize, the fiscal decentralization should match this, too. If the
ancient producer of balangay, Butuan, pulls off the country's biggest shipbuilding industry, the
Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) should be based there. If Samar-Leyte develops a

sustainable pulp-and-paper industry, government should place a forestry agency there, one that
bolsters the agriculture and not another fruitless bureau of environmental protection. Palawan is
the Philippine's last ecological frontier, it would be symbolical and strategic for it to hold the
central office of the Department of Environment.
It's crucial that a city with great potential be given ample opportunity. This was the economic
consideration when this blog came up with 22 federal states, ensuring that a lone potentially
great city, so long as their is one ethnic group to care for it, belongs to a separate state. As an
example, while practically ethnic twins, Lanao and Maguindanao are two separate states;
because Lanao has Iligan, and Maguindanao has Cotabato. Each can concentrate on their own
city, so each can bring out its own best.

In a nutshell, what is federalism?


Currently, the Philippines employs a unitary form of government with much of the power decisions, policies, and programs emerging from
the central government.
Under federalism, however, power is divided or shared between the central government and local state governments.
What is federalism?
It is a form of government where sovereignty is constitutionally shared between a central governing authority and constituent political units called
states or regions.
In basic terms, it will break the country into autonomous regions with a national government focused only on interests with nationwide bearing:
foreign policy and defense, for example.
The autonomous regions or states, divided further into local government units, will have primary responsibility over developing their industries,
public safety, education, healthcare, transportation, recreation, and culture. These states will have more power over their finances, development
plans, and laws exclusive to ther jurisdiction.
The central government and states can also share certain powers.
How is it different from what we have now?
We presently have a unitary form of government. Most administrative powers and resources are with the national government based in Metro
Manila. It's Malacaang that decides how much to give local government units. The process is prone to abuse, with governors and mayors
sometimes having to beg Malacaang for projects they believe their communities need.
How local government units spend their budget has to be approved by the national government.
In federalism, the states will have the power to make these decisions with little or no interference from the national government.
PROS
Locals decide for themselves. Regions have their own unique problems, situations, geographic, cultural, social and economic contexts.
Federalism allows them to create solutions to their own problems instead of distant Metro Manila deciding for them.
The states can establish policies that may not be adopted nationwide. For example, liberal Metro Manila can allow same-sex marriage which the
state of Bangsamoro, predominantly Muslim, would not allow. In the United States, some states like Colorado and Washington have legalized
recreational marijuana even if other states have not.
This makes sense in an archipelago of over 7,000 islands and 28 dominant ethnic groups. For decades, the national government has been
struggling to address the concerns of 79 (now 81) provinces despite challenges posed by geography and cultural differences.
With national government, and thus power, centered in Metro Manila, it's no surprise that development in the mega city has spiralled out of
control while other parts of the country are neglected.
More power over funds, resources. Right now, local government units can only collect real estate tax and business permit fees. In federalism,
they can retain more of their income and are required to turn over only a portion to the state government they fall under.
Thus, local governments and state governments can channel their own funds toward their own development instead of the bulk of the money
going to the national government. They can spend the money on programs and policies they see fit without waiting for the national government's
go signal.

Promotes specialization. The national and state governments can specialize in different policy domains. With most administrative powers now
with the regional governments, the national government can focus on foreign policy, defense, and other nationwide concerns, like healthcare and
taxation.
States have more autonomy to focus on economic development using their core competencies and industries. The state of Central Luzon can
focus on becoming an agricultural hub. The state of Mimaropa, home to Palawan, can choose to use eco-tourism as its primary launch pad.
Possible solution to the Mindanao conflict. The creation of the state of Bangsamoro within a federalist system may address concerns of
separatists who crave more autonomy over the administration of Muslim Mindanao.
Decongestion of Metro Manila. Through fiscal autonomy for state governments, federalism will more evenly distribute the country's wealth. In
2015, 35% of the national budget went to Metro Manila even if it represents only 14% of the Philippine population.
Lessens dependence on Metro Manila. When there is political upheaval in Metro Manila, other regions that have nothing to do with the chain of
events are left waiting for the resources that ony the national government can release. With federalism, regions work independently of Metro
Manila for most concerns.
Brings government closer to the people. If detractors say federalism will only make local political dynasties more powerful, supporters give the
argument that, in fact, it will make all local leaders, including those part of political dynasties, more accountable to their constituents. State
governments will no longer have any excuse for delays in services or projects that, in the present situation, are often blamed on choking
bureaucracy in Manila.
Assuming more autonomy for regions leads to economic development, there will be more incentive for Filipinos to live and work in regions
outside Metro Manila. More investors may also decide to put up their businesses there, creating more jobs and opportunities to attract more
people away from the jam-packed mega city.
Encourages competition. With states now more self-reliant and in control of their development, they will judge themselves relative to how their
fellow states are progressing. The competitive spirit will hopefully motivate state leaders and citizens to level up in terms of quality of life,
economic development, progressive policies, and governance.
CONS
Possibly divisive. Healthy competition among states can become alienating creating rivalries and promoting the regionalism that some say
already challenges the sense of unity in the country. It could enflame hostilities between ethnic groups in the country like Tagalogs, Cebuanos,
Bicolanos, Ilocanos, Tausugs, and Zamboangueos.
Uneven development among states. Some states may not be as ready for autonomy as others. Some states may not be as rich in natural
resources or skilled labor as others. States with good leaders will progress faster while states with ineffective ones will degrade more than ever
because national government will not be there to balance them out.
But in some federal countries, the national government doles out funds to help poorer states. A proposed Equalization Fund will use a portion of
tax from rich states to be given to poorer states.
Confusing overlaps in jurisdiction. Where does the responsibility of state governments end and where does the responsibility of the national
government begin? Unless these are very clearly stated in the amended Constitution, ambiguities may arise, leading to conflict and confusion. For
instance, in times of disaster, what is the division of responsibilities between state and national governments?
May not satisfy separatists in Mindanao. Separatists are calling for their own country, not just a state that still belongs to a larger federal
Philippines. Federalism may not be enough for them. After all, the conflict continues despite the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao.
Cost of federalism
Shifting to federalism won't come cheap. It would entail billions of pesos to set up state governments and the delivery of state services. States will
then have to spend for the elections of their officials.

One of them is federalism which is gaining ground as a "lasting solution to


separatism" and as a fmal option in dealing with Filipino diversity. They argue that
federalism will end unequal distribution of wealth by the national government.
According to the advocates of the federal constitution, the unitary system where there

is more emphasis on national integration and assimilation rather than unity in


diversity and pluralism have alienated the Bangsamoro People and other ethnic and
cultural communities. They feel that they are neglected and discriminated by the
national government which is dominated by the Christian Filipino majority.
There are many more pros and cons in the unitary and federal system, but we
shall deal more on the Bangsamoro option. The federal alternative is a national
alternative and not an exclusive Mindanao concern or advocacy. Mere
decentralization, including the ARMM model is found to be inadequate. Thus,
'"Running an autonomy within a unitary and centralized presidential system
apparently still limit that autonomy." The previous attempts to resolve the conflict
between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine state by offering autonomy for
Muslim Mindanao have failed, largely because of the inadequate powers assigned to
the autonomous government.

FEDERALISM AS A BANGSAMORO OPTION


By Mohd. Musib M. Buat

The Federal Option


There are various options espoused in respond to the Bangsamoro People's quest
for freedom and self-determination. One of them is federalism which is gaining ground
as a "lasting solution to separatism" and as a fmal option in dealing with Filipino
diversity. They argue that federalism will end unequal distribution of wealth by the
national government.

Under the proposed federal constitution, there will be a shift in the structure of
government from the unitary system to a federal system and from a presidential type
to a parliamentary form of government. There will be consolidation of the local
governments in the existing 16 administrative regions, Metro Manila and the
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao into 11 states or autonomous regional
governments. One of the component states or regional government is Bangsamoro.
According to the advocates of the federal constitution, the unitary system
where there is more emphasis on national integration and assimilation rather than
unity in diversity and pluralism have alienated the Bangsamoro People and other

ethnic and cultural communities. They feel that they are neglected and discriminated
by the national government which is dominated by the Christian Filipino majority.
The proponents also argue that the ineffective and irresponsible unitary system
and the weakness of the rule of law have allowed political warlords and corrupt
politicians and public employees to exist and prosper. These warlords and abusive
leaders feel that they are above the law. They violate and often get away with it. They
further observe that the same factors plus mass poverty, economic inequality and
social injustice are the reasons why the communist and the Moro rebellion persist to
the present. Whereas progressive countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand
have long solved the Communist insurgency.

They also claim that the Moro rebellion and secessionism coupled by
government corruption have been aggravated by unresponsive and unaccountable
governance under the present unitary system and presidential government. What is
needed in response to this problem is by reforming political parties, strengthening
the rule of law, empowering the people, improving governance, and holding leaders
accountable. The federal system and parliamentary government will displace local
warlords and reduce corruption in government.
There are many more pros and cons in the unitary and federal system, but we
shall deal more on the Bangsamoro option. The federal alternative is a national
alternative and not an exclusive Mindanao concern or advocacy. Mere
decentralization, including the ARMM model is found to be inadequate. Thus,
'"Running an autonomy within a unitary and centralized presidential system
apparently still limit that autonomy." The previous attempts to resolve the conflict
between the Bangsamoro people and the Philippine state by offering autonomy for
Muslim Mindanao have failed, largely because of the inadequate powers assigned to
the autonomous government.
There are two essential things for Bangsamoro autonomy, namely: the capability
to be adequately self-sustaining, not dependent on the central government; and some
degree of compensatory justice for Muslims. The ARMM has only limited autonomy,
mainly over the economic development of the region. The central government remains
in control of defense, [mancial and foreign policies. Senator Aquilino Pimentel is
quoted to have said that '"unless the Philippine Constitution is drastically changed or
amended, it is impossible to grant genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro people."

Federalism and Bangsamoro Statehood


Federalism presupposes the establishment of component states or selfgoverning
regional governments comprising the federal union. It is not necessarily incompatible
with the political aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for statehood. The basis of
Bangsamoro "statehood is the administration of the Sultanate governments in Mindanao
and Sulu, which entered into treaties with nations like Spain, Britain and the Dutch East
India

I
V

Company." ("Political Options for Mindanao", MTC Peace Summit, September 10-12,
2002).
The establishment of Bangsamoro statehood will be a forward step towards the
advocacy for a Federal Constitution. The Bangsamoro Nation may opt to federate with the
Philippine state or enter into a free state association (or better known as Commonwealth like
that of Puerto Rico, a self-governing commonwealth associated with the USA). The
Bangsamoro state may enter into a treaty with the Philippine state to form a federal union
like that of the State of Texas which federated with the American Union via treaty.

The Mindanao conflict cannot await the amendment of the Philippine Constitution
restructuring the Philippine Islands into eleven (11) component states under a federal
constitution. The timetable of the Federal Movement advocacy to amend the Philippine
Constitution to shift from a unitary to a federal system is by the year 2010. The
Mindanao conflict is one of urgency that would need immediate political solution. We
have laid down the various options to resolve the Bangsamoro problem.
Under modem contemporary international law, a treaty device is one of the legal
modalities in the resolution of political disputes. Another procedure in through
decolonization and the conduct of referendum similar to the East Timor experience. The East
Timorese have earlier declared their independence from Portugal being its former colony.
But after Indonesia annexed their territory as one of the province of Indonesia, the East
Timorese opted to. withdraw their declaration of independence and sought for inclusion as
trust territory for decolonization under the United Nation. The peaceful political settlement
of the Bangsamoro problem will be to the best interest of hoth the Filipino Nation and the
Bangsamoro People. The military option will not put an end to the Bangsamoro problem.
Even if all the Moro fronts are vanquished today, there will always be new generation of
Moros who will assert the right to self-deternlination. The Philippine Government have been
spending billions of pesos for the pacification of the Moro rebellion. This is not to mention
the loss of innocent lives and destruction of property. The Philippines has the highest rate of
poverty in the world. What is uselessly spent for military campaign should instead be spent
for the alleviation of poverty of poor Filipinos.