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Why Adopt a Federal Form of Government and Steps for Transition

Acosta, Mabelle E. Du, Kelvin John M. Tongo, Karmela

Legal Research LLB I-Estrellado

College of Law Ateneo De Davao University

November 18, 2013


The Republic of the Philippines has a presidential-unitary form of government which is highly centralized. This means that the country is led by the President as the head of state and the government. He has general supervision over local governments which are dependent on the national government as the Constitution has concentrated political powers and authority in the national government. Being an archipelago of 7,107 islands it h

as been a struggle to deliver and provide services to the public especially to those remote areas. The 1987 Constitution 1987 Constitution provided for an answer in the form of decentralization of government administration including the creation of the autonomous region. This strategy is said to facilitate faster delivery of needed basic services and promote participatory governance. The Local Government Code of 1991 which has been functioning for over 2 decades now is one of the legislations and strategies enacted and introduced to further local autonomy and promote good governance

It must be noted however, that the extent of decentralization through local and regional autonomy is limited. The Local Government Code despite of its goal to provide autonomy to these Local Government Units in terms of providing services and providing legislation to their place is still under the supervision of the legislature and the executive. It is still subject to national government intervention. With very limited powers and authority and inadequate resources, most of the local governments cannot provide the public services that their constituents need. Local dependence on the national government stifles local initiative and resourcefulness, and hampers local business and development. With most leaders reluctant to decentralize the powers of the national government because it enhances their control over local communities, the efforts to promote local autonomy since the 1950s seemed have reached a dead end.

With the current form of government, the government and leaders have generally failed to effectively address problems-continuing underdevelopment, poverty, social inequality, unemployment, and the inadequate social services in the country.

For these reasons, the federalist movement seeks to change the highly centralized unitary structure to a decentralized structure of autonomous local governments leading to a federal system. Advocates of federalism believe that the structure of the federal system would respond to the geographical obstacle and differences caused by cultural diversity on governance because it allows fragmentation while at the same time promoting national interest.

In this respect, this paper will answer the question “would changing our traditional unitary Republic to the Federal Republic of the Philippines the right choice?” The first section of the paper provides an historical background of the Philippine government. The second section provides for an overview decentralization and federalism in the Philippines. The third section provides the context of decentralization in the Philippines. The case of the Bangsamoro in ARMM is also discussed under the Local Government Code. The fourth section discusses federalism as the right form of government needed in the Philippines. The last section discusses the proposed process in adopting a federal structure of government.

Overview and Historical Background

The Philippines is an archipelago stretching 1 839 km north-to-south off the southeast coast of Asia. It is composed of 7, 107 islands divided into three major island groups namely Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao with the total population 92,337,852 as of May, 2010. 1 The diverse and numerous ethnic and tribal groups in the country can be attributed to its geographical features. The people on each big island or group of islands speak their own dialect, follows a culture that is distinct only among them.

Early Filipinos lived in numerous independent communities called barangays under various native rules which were largely customary and unwritten. Even before the arrival of Spaniards in the Philippines, autonomy among local units and communities are already in existence. Under the Spanish regime, the civil and religious authorities of Spain created a hierarchical form of administrative structure between the central government and indigenous barangays all over the country with the exception of the communities in Sulu and Mindanao. Due to these local‟s strong resistance, the Spaniards failed to integrate their communities under the Spanish colonial regime. 2

This system of government in the Philippines rooted in the colonial administration of Spain has been maintained through the various political periods undergone by the country. However, the degree of central government control has been changing. Trends in both political and administrative decentralization have been influenced by threats to national security, personalities of the presidents, national integration, national development, and the perception of the central government on the competence of local government. 3

When the Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States, the latter essentially maintained the administrative structure established by the former with special arrangements with the Moros and non-Christian tribes. The Americans first organized a military government with the consolidation of executive, legislative, and judicial authority

1 Philippines in Figures: Population, National Statistics Office, date retrieved: November 17, 2013. Retrieved from:


2 T. Agoncillo & M. Guerrero, History of the Filipino People (4th ed., 1973) pp. 46-47.

3 Sosmena, 1987 as cited in Manasan, 1992. Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations, Fiscal Federalism, and Economic Development in the Philippines working Paper series No. 92-04.

in the military governor. In spite of the enactment of policies purportedly supportive of local autonomy, the Americans maintained a highly centralized politico-administrative structure. 4

The inauguration of the Philippine Republic on July 4, 1946 marked the culmination of the Filipinos‟ 300 years of struggle for freedom. The 1935 Constitution served as the fundamental law with the executive power being vested in the President, the legislative power in the bicameral Congress of the Philippines and the judicial power in the Supreme Court and inferior courts established by law.

During Marcos regime, the 1973 Constitution established a parliamentary form of government and introduced the merger of executive and legislative powers. Marcos abolished Congress and then went on to suspend national and local elections, abrogating unto himself the power to appoint local officials .Although elections for a national legislature were later held in 1978, and then for local officials in 1980, these were never considered truly reflective of the people‟s will because of the prevailing conditions of. 5 Decentralization suffered a setback with the concentration of decision making powers during the Marcos regime.

The overthrow of Marcos in 1986 and the ascent of Corazon Aquino into power lead the promulgation of the Freedom Constitution which was to be in force pending the adoption of a new constitution. A year later, the 1987 Constitution was ratified at a plebiscite held on February 2, 1987.

The 1987 constitution has been in effect for the past 26 years and as the basic and paramount law of the land, all other laws must conform and to which all persons including the highest officials of the land, must defer. No act shall be valid if it conflicts with the constitution.

4 I. Cruz. Philippine Political Law. 2002.

5 Brillantes, 1990 as cited in Manasan, 1992. Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations, Fiscal Federalism, and Economic Development in the Philippines working Paper series No. 92-04.

Unitary System versus Federal Government

As we are for the Federal form of government in our country it should be understood first how our society works in terms of our current form of government which is Unitary and how it would work when we are finally in a Federal form of government.

Unitary form of government is defined as a system of political organization in which most or all of the governing power resides in a centralized government. It contrasts with a federal system

In a unitary system the central government commonly delegates authority to subnational units and channels policy decisions down to them for implementation. A majority of nation-states are unitary systems. They vary greatly. Great Britain, for example, decentralizes power in practice though not in constitutional principle. Others grant varying degrees of autonomy to subnational units. 6

A unitary system of government, therefore, is one where all of the government authority and power is vested with one central government. This central government has the sovereign power and the power of controlling its delegation of function to other local or regional units. 7 The extent of the authority given to the subunits or local governments differ per country and depends on a variety of factors, foremost is the stipulations in a Constitution and implementing laws thereof. Some of the notable nations having a unitary system of government are the United Kingdom and France.

The Philippines falls on the later part of the sentence since it gives autonomy through its local government units. Furthermore The Philippines has a democratic form of government pursuant to Section 1, Article II of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines which states that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” Our country “is a republic with a presidential form of government wherein power is equally divided among its three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. One basic corollary in a

6 Unitary. 2013 In Enyclopedia britannica.com. Retrieved Nov, 12, 2013, from http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/


7 Unitary Government, 2013 in USLegal.com. Retrieved November 9, 2013, from http://definitions.uslegal.com/u/unitary- government/

presidential system of government is the principle of separation of powers wherein legislation belongs to Congress, execution to the Executive, and settlement of legal controversies to the Judiciary.” 8

Whereas, Federalism is defined as a form of government in which political authority is divided between a general or national government and regional (or “state”) governments. The general government carries on the military and diplomatic functions of the country and deals with many other matters of national concern. The state or regional governments carry on the public activities that most directly affect the citizens, such as police and fire protection. In a federal political structure, the state governments are not mere provincial agencies of a central government. For under federalism, the state or regional governments have their own constitutional powers that the general government must recognize and respect. On the other hand, the state governments in a federal system have less independence than do states that are members of a confederation or league. 9

Unlike the unitary system of government, the principle of federalism centers on the allocation of the government authority and power to both the central or national government and the local, regional or state governments. In a federal system, there are powers exclusively exercised by either the central government or the local government units. Nonetheless, there are still some government powers and functions that are shared by both governments, especially those that require utmost consideration such as those relating to the right of life and liberty. 10

There are also many countries in the world which has a federal government. The United States of America is the best example of a nation enforcing federalism as the concept itself is closely tied with the governmental system of the United States. Other countries include Switzerland, Malaysia, Pakistan and Mexico.

8 The Official Gazette of the Philippines, date retrieved November 9 2013 http://www.gov.ph/about/gov/.

9 James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government [1989] date retrieved: November 8 2013 retrieved from: http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle =679&chapter=68462&layout=html&Itemid=27 source 10 Federalism, 2013 in The Free Dictionary by Farlex. Retrieved November 9, 2013, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary. com/Federalism

Autonomy and Decentralization

While a unitary form of government means having one central government, this does not ipso facto mean that there is total abolishment of local autonomy and decentralization. Although federalism already implies decentralization, unitary systems may also decentralize.

Decentralization is the delegation of the national government of certain authority to local and regional governments. Local governments are then allowed to do decision- making on their own within their given area wherein they exercise authority. Decentralization is a necessary prerequisite of autonomy. 11

In the case of Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals 12 , 200 SCRA 271, it was questioned whether the constitutional change in the wording of the 1987 Philippine Constitution meant that it divested the power of control of the President, and likewise the legislative branch, over the local officials of the local government units (LGUs) which have been awarded autonomy by the same Constitution. The Court ruled that autonomy, in the use of the word in the Constitution, does not mean that the local governments are considered as states similar to the federal government of the United States. What the inclusion of local autonomy simply means is the creation of less dependent LGUs. These local governments are still subject to the laws and restrictions enacted by the legislative department and supervision of the executive department. Although LGUs are given autonomy, they cannot be considered as independent bodies of the government; they are not “mini-states” or states in the same light as that in a federal government precisely because they are created through the enactments of the Congress.

In addition, the Court ruled in Ganzon that the provision on local autonomy is found under Article II of the 1987 Constitution. These principles and state policies have been held in a long line of cases to not be self-executing. This means that in expounding on how local autonomy will be applied in the system of government, there must still be an enabling law created by the legislature. This includes the passage of a local government code which will define the nature and functions of the local

11 Disomangcop vs. Secretary, G.R. No. 149848 (November 25, 2004), 444 SCRA 203. 12 Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 93252, 93746, 95245 (August 5, 1991), 200 SCRA 271, 281.

government units, putting into concrete terms the extent of the local autonomy contemplated in the Constitution.

What is explicit in the 1987 Philippine Constitution is the integration of the principle of autonomy of local and regional government units into the unitary system of government. In effect, it provided for the decentralization of administration of the country- and not the delegation of the actual power of the state which is still within one central government.

Decentralization in the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines has a presidential-unitary form of government. This means that the country is led by the President as the head of state and the government. The Philippines is composed of one central government which is divided into three main departments: the executive, the legislative and the judicial department. Although there are three separate branches, they all co-exist in one government, separated only to distribute the immense powers of the state in order to have checks and balances.

Section 1, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that: “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” The Philippines believes in democracy- that it is the people who have the real power and the power which the government has is only derived from them. It also espouses a republican system of representation so that the people are properly represented in the government which they have established to support them.

Although the Philippines has a unitary government, there still exists a great deal of autonomy and decentralization. Foremost is the state policy that local governments be given autonomy. 13 This is a new inclusion in the 1987 Constitution as it provided for decentralization of government administration including the creation of the autonomous regions. However, the Constitution still adopts a unitary government and not a federal

13 Section 25, Article II, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

one. 14

This state policy has been realized through the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991 15 which provided for a more apparent system of decentralization in the government. It provided for clearer delineation of tasks which the Local Government Units (LGUs) may undertake within their localities. However, it must be noted that the extent of decentralization through local and regional autonomy is limited. It has been even referred to as a “dead end” by its major proponent, Senator Pimentel, because of the resistance from those used to a centralized structure of government. 16

This conflict between having a unitary form of government while upholding local autonomy and decentralization gave rise to a movement for federalism in the Philippines.

The 2005 Consultative Commission

Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo created the 2005 Consultative Commission during her incumbency as President of the Republic of the Philippines. The commission, commonly referred to as the ConCom, was formed in order to study the existing system of government in the Philippines as well as study the recommendations for changes from a presidential-unitary system of government to a parliamentary-federal one. 17 The head of the commission was Jose Abueva, a known proponent for federalism in the Philippines. Despite several controversies regarding the creation of the commission, the members of the ConCom regularly convened and discussed the possible shift of the form of government which resulted to their recommendation which was submitted to Congress. The most significant parts of their recommendations are the shift to a federal form of government, a parliamentary type of government, and the

14 Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 93252, 93746, 95245 (August 5, 1991), 200 SCRA 271, 281.

15 Republic Act No. 7160, effective January 1, 1992.

16 2005 Consultative Commission Session 3, Oct 3, 2005. Transcript of the proceedings, p.17. Date retrieved: November 5, 2013. Retrieved from: http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/chacha/Session03_T00305p.pdf.

17 Executive Order No. 453 (2005), retrieved from the Official Gazette of the Philippines.

extension of the term of public officials, including the President, for transition. 18 They also submitted a recommendation of amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Much of the deliberations of the ConCom centered on how federalism is advantageous to the Philippines vis-a-vis the current autonomy exercised by local government units. In the transcript of the meetings of the Consultative Commission, Chairman Abueva discussed the division of functions they envisioned between the national and state governments are more than just local autonomy. It is the delineation of important powers of administration to the regional or state governments for better execution. Those that will be left to the national level are only the functions which a state may not undertake on its own and those of national interest such as security and defense, territory, foreign and diplomatic relations, immigration and citizenship, and economic or banking systems. 19

Although we agree on the shift to federalism, the same cannot be said as to the suggested change from a presidential to a parliamentary type of government. An attempt to change the type of government was done by the late President Ferdinand Marcos during his extended term. 20 This pseudo-parliamentary 21 system however was not well-received, having been done during the regime of martial law in the Philippines. It has also been criticized that the parliamentary government was not in effect since it was still Marcos who was in power even for tasks delegated to the Prime Minister.

As to the extension of the term of the President, among other high-ranking officials, the reason behind this was that it would help facilitate the change in the form of government. While this guided reason may be true, it was received negatively by the public especially since the current President at that time was not perceived in the best light by the people. Even with a change in presidency, extending the term of the

18 Ronald J. May, (2007) Federalism versus Autonomy Debate and practice in the Philippines, date retrieved: November 4 2013, retrieved from http://www.iag.org.ph/index.php/blog/444-federalism-versus-autonomy-debate-and-practice-in-the-philippines

19 2005 Consultative Commission Session 3, Oct 3, 2005. Transcript of the proceedings, p.17. Date retrieved: November 5, 2013. Retrieved from: http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/chacha/Session03_T00305p.pdf

20 Marcos Administration, in Philippinecountry,com. Date retrieved: November 11, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.philippine country.com/philippine_history/marcos_time.html

21 Jose V. Abueva, Why Change our Presidential Government to a Parliamentary Government?, d ate retrieved: November 11, 2013. Retrieved from: http://pcij.org/blog/wp-docs/JoseAbueva_Why_change_to_a_parliamentary_government.pdf

President for the transition to a federal government will still encounter doubts since the current Philippine Constitution itself provides that the term of the President shall not exceed six years. An amendment to this provision, although an easy solution, might prove to be futile depending on how well the public admits the current administration. If it is possible to do away with extending the terms of office of incumbent high-ranking officials, then it would be more beneficial to the transition so as to minimize questions on the purpose of the conversion to federalism.

Federalism in the Philippines

Although the incorporation of federalism will not solve all of the problems the Philippines is facing, it will be a chance to tidy up all loopholes and erroneous functions found within the current system.

The following is a summary 22 of the key advantages the Philippines will arrive at if it will pursue a federal form of government:

1. A federal system will allow for a more peaceful and enduring framework in the

negotiations with the Bangsamoro and the Muslim Filipinos as they will be given ample room to establish their state as well as the laws which they deem fit in accordance with their culture and interests. This will give way for the cession of peace and order problems in Mindanao, especially to the cities and provinces under the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

2. The creation of around a dozen states instead of 80 or so provinces will enable

for faster and easier development in terms of industries, economies, and


3. Federalism will push for better political participation from the citizens since

22 From: The Annotated CMFP Draft Constitution (2005) by Jose Abueva, as cited in Ronald J. May, (2007) Federalism versus Autonomy: Debate and Practice in the Philippines; Pimentel, Aquilino, Why Adopt the Federal System of Government? A Primer on the Federal System presented to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines at its annual convention, Tacloban City, 27 April 2002; Abueva, Jose, Towards a Federal republic of the Philippines with a Parliamentary Government by 2010 in “Towards a Federal Republic of the Philippines with a Parliamentary Government by 2010: A Draft Constitution”, Kalayaan College, Marikina City, 2002, pp. 5-6, as cited in Brillantes and Mossacre: Decentralization and Federalism in the Philippines: Lesson from the Global Community.

they will not only be governed by the national government but also by their respective state. Election of public official in the state level will be improved as the citizens have more direct stake in the outcome thereof. Citizens will be more involved and mindful of their state government.

4. Governance will be improved in the state or local levels. Public officials may be

more rigorously checked in their activities which will lead to less corruption and more accountability. If it will be evident that corruption has rapidly reduced, more citizens will be willing to pay for taxes which will yield to more much-needed budget and funds for the national and state governments.

5. Federalism will promote interstate competition which in effect will improve the

country‟s development. Economic development will be spread out across states and will not be focused on the capital. States will improve on their local products

in order to bring in foreign as well as domestic investment. Progression will be apparent and will help bring in and retain professionals.

6. Similar to the United States, each state may have more flexibility in the

creation and implementation of laws within its own state. Although already implemented through the Local Government Code of 1991, the creation of a law instead of an ordinance will allow for more profound application and stricter execution.

7. Each state may concentrate on addressing internal problems as these differ

from state to state. Its resources will be directed to its actual issues and not merely for the improvement of the capital state. Current underdeveloped cities and provinces will have more room to use their resources towards their own progression. The national or federal government will then be less burdened in unifying efforts on problems only specific to a state, enabling it to concentrate more on national issues on security and globalization.

8. A federal system will also help preserve a region or locality‟s cultures and tradition. Each state will be more inclined to have their own identity to differentiate themselves from other states. This will give effect to a more state- centric attitude for citizens, enriching the local language and culture. This does

not however mean a decrease in the national unity but instead will give rise to cultural diversity and social plurality which will benefit the nation.

9. The shift to federalism will strengthen the people‟s value of democracy, creating a deeper attachment between the people and their local government. Citizens will come to realize the value of their participation in the formation of the state.

Federalism: In Politics

The concept of federalism points mainly to the ideal of giving full autonomy to the State giving them their own constitution and give limits to the national government on what it would impose on the state and vice versa. It aims to decentralize the form of power, the distribution of goods and that the ordinances to be enacted are grounded on the actual tradition and customs of the people without having fear of violating the constitution.

In the Philippines all of the laws that will be enacted should adhere to the 'mother of laws' the 1987 Philippines Constitution which took effect on February 2, 1987. The 1987 Philippines Constitution was enacted after the oust of then President Ferdinand Marcos who held power for 21 years and had assume the role of being the legislative body and the executive body after his declaration of Martial Law. This constitution was created with the aim of avoiding as much as possible another martial law and any form of abuse of power on whoever will assume it which has been proven to be detrimental for the country's state in terms of not only in legislation but also of human rights and justice. Therefore it follows the hierarchy of laws to which every statutes promulgated by legislative bodies or administrative bodies should adhere to. The bottom part of the hierarchy is the ordinances enacted by the Local Government Units (LGU). As LGU has been given 'meaningful and genuine' local autonomy these ordinances should still adhere to administrative issuances by the executive. Then these issuances should be pursuant to the statutes or laws enacted by the legislative department of our country then finally all of these should be pursuant to the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

Our 1987 constitution paved way for the creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the creation of the Cordillera of Autonomous Region (CAR) provided that the congress will create an organic act for each region. However this organic act has not been materialized which would be discussed in the latter part of this paper.

Also another good feature in our 1987 Constitution is that it provided local autonomy to the local government units. Meaning, it can enact laws on its own. It can be similar to the concept of Federalism where the states are given full autonomy in terms of creating policies, laws and as well as the distribution of their goods. Having the same concept as that of a Federal form of government why is it still a need for changing the constitution to Federal government? What is the difference between Local Government Code that was enacted pursuant to the 1987 Philippines Constitution and that of Federalism?

Local Government Code

The idea of decentralization is not new in our country. It has been existent before the enactment of the Local Government Code. We already had acts that aim for decentralization of power such as the Local Autonomy Act and the Decentralization act however it was directly supervised by the President and the governance remained centralized. There were still actions for decentralization after those acts namely the Martial Law constitution and the Local Government Code but was found to be ineffective since it was not practiced.23

Article X of the 1897 Constitution states that the political and territorial subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy24 and these political and territorial subdivisions has the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees, and charges shall

23 Ronald J. May, (2007) Federalism versus Autonomy Debate and practice in the Philippines, date retrieved: November 4 2013, retrieved from http://www.iag.org.ph/index.php/blog/444-federalism-versus-autonomy-debate-and-practice-in-the-philippines.

24 Section 2, Aarticle X, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

accrue exclusively to the local governments. 25 And that the President shall exercise general supervision to these local governments ensuring that the acts of the component units are within their prescribed powers and functions. 26 Moreover this mandated by the constitution was strengthened through the enactment of the Local Government Code 27

Republic Act 7610 otherwise known as The Local Government Code of 1991 was enacted on October 10 1991 pursuant to the 1987 Constitution. In its Declaration of policy its primary goal is to make the local government units as self-reliant thereby giving them genuine and meaningful local autonomy. It also aims to make a responsive and accountable government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall proceed from the national government to the local government units.28

The Local government Code also provides for the kind of power the local government assume in relation to what National government may impose. Section 25, Article 1 of Chapter III or the Intergovernmental Relations chapter of the code states that the President shall exercise general supervision over local government units, aside from that it has the authority of exercising directly supervising authorities over provinces, highly urbanized cities, municipalities, cities and barangays. In terms of project implementation coordination between the national and local government is needed to ensure that the local government units have a participation in planning and implementation of national projects.

Those mentioned among others are the role of the National government in the Local government unit. As the Local Government Code's aim is to give 'meaningful and genuine' autonomy to the Local Government Units, how far its goal could go? What its autonomy in its constitutional sense?

The Supreme Court of the Philippines had the occasion to explain what

25 Section 5, Article X , The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

26 Section 4, Article X, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

27 Section 3, Article X, The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines.

28 “An Act Providing for Local Government Units ”, Republic Act 7610, Declaration of policy, paragraph a (1991 ) .

autonomy means. Autonomy in its constitutional sense has been defined not to make mini states out of local government units, although it is not controlled by the legislature it is still within their guidance. And still within the general supervision of the executive. 29 The involvement of the President in terms of the supervising this Local Government Unit symbolizes somewhat direct intervention on what could possibly this local government unit enact in terms of laws in the form of ordinances aside from his role of making sure their adherence to the 1987 Philippines Constitution. Here, the Supreme Court had just reiterated the Local Government Code that was enacted after jurisprudence was held. Therefore both judiciary and statutes are consistent with its stand that Local Government Code is not full autonomy at all.

Therefore our Local Government Code despite of its goal to provide autonomy to these Local Government units in terms of providing service, providing legislation to their place is still under the minimal supervision of the legislature and still 'under the general supervision of the Executive'. It is still subject to the national government intervention which is the opposite of Federalism which gives each state, the term for political subdivision, their own constitution as mentioned above. In federalism there will be liberation of laws as well as the increased responsibility of the leaders to come up with activities which could help their constituent. Furthermore it allows the local population to decide for their own on what ordinances which they think could benefit the populace without seeking confirmation to the National government as long as it adheres to the basic principles of the constitution of their place. It is to be remembere that the laws enaceted by the National Government are of general scope unless provided by the law itself therefore the considerations made pursuant to it are in the general sense. Therefore, it might not concur with a place' unique system. It encourages the population to enact laws in accordance with their traditions and customs.

Another thing that a Federal form of government may address better is the system of corruption. In a unitary form of government which has a centralized form of government, all the income of its regions will go to the National capital then will circulate through the allocation of budget by the legislative department.The funds will be

29 Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 93252, 93746, 95245 (August 5, 1991), 200 SCRA 271, 281.

managed by their representatives which are the legislators. The problem with that especially in the Philippine context is that our political system has been long problematic. Aside from the issue of political dynasties which means that one family dominates the political set up of a particular place, Philippine politics highly involves influence, power and connection. Regardless of the 'preferred' qualification, that is, aside from what the constitutionally mandated qualification, anybody can be elected as long as you have what it takes to win the votesmoney and/or influence.

As what has been mentioned earlier these leaders or the politicians who has been elected has the task of delivering to the people the allocation given by the national government. The problem with it is that there are so many issues on how these politicians allocate them. The issue of misuse of a public fund in fact has become an open secret to the people. The most common example known may be some allotted huge budget for road construction when in fact there is no road. The most recent issue that has angered the whole nation is the issue of pork barrel system where some of the legislators allegedly gave some of their budget to fake Non-Government Organizations in return these budget will be returned to them in a form of commission. Not only legislators but in the past, the former President of the Philippines has been plagued with issues involving kickbacks30 using public funds. These funds were generated by either collecting tax or by the efforts of the countries' districts through their production. In return, sometimes, the place which produces more has received less not only through lack of budget allocation but of the failure of the government leaders to effectively use them in their own districts.This would have been minimized in a federal form of government since the politicians can only rely on their own efforts in terms of budge. It means when a state fails in giving the needs of their people but that they are capable in production, it is the leaders of the place who has the sole responsibility and no longer the national government through the budget allocation system.

Although the federal government cannot ensure to abolish the system of corruption of the leaders but it will add more burden and responsibility to them as these leaders will have no one to blame but them in handling the own funds of their place. It

30 What went before: the NBN ZTE Deal, date retrieved: November 16, 2013, retrieved from: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/


can possibly decrease and perhaps change the plagued system of handling funds, the system of corruption which is probably inherent in our very own Unitary form of government.

Another major issue that involves the need to shift from Federal form of government is the longstanding conflict involving Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front and the Government of the Philippines. Although our constitution has given the Bangsamoro their own autonomy there are still issues that are deeply rooted that when addressed will be in conflict with our present 1987 constitution.

Case of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

Decentralization within a unitary form of government is limited. “It is inherently reluctant to devolve political powers to its lower tiers while it may decentralize administrative functions when required. This is the expected scenario in the case of the Philippines in relation to the Muslim problem, more so because regional autonomy is contained in the Constitution. But a long tradition of centralism has translated the constitutional mandate into a toothless agency called ARMM.” 31

Emergence of ARMM

The history of the ARMM has always been intertwined with the struggle of the Muslim peoples of Mindanao towards self-rule and self-determination. These peoples, who, now collectively call themselves “Bangsamoro” wanted to shape their own destiny under Islamic law and culture. They had successfully resisted the influence of foreign domination particularly the Spaniards, Japanese, and Americans however; their land was nevertheless annexed into the Philippine government after the Americans gave independence to the Philippines. And with the occurrence of social injustices and unscrupulous acts of persons who took advantage of the people‟s low economic state they are forced to rise in protest against the Philippine government.

31 S. Tanggol. 2010. "Regional Autonomy, Federalism and the Bangsamoro Issue.

On August 1, 1989, Republic Act No. 6734, otherwise known as the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was signed into law by then President Corazon C. Aquino in pursuit of a vigorous approach to solve the Mindanao problem through peace negotiations. A plebiscite was then conducted on November 17, 1989, in the proposed areas of ARMM wherein the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu opted to join the area of autonomy. When Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the Presidency on January 2001 after the ouster of President Joseph E. Estrada, she sustains the peace and development efforts in Mindanao. As part of the commitment to the 1996 Peace Agreement, she supported the September 2001 plebiscite for the ratification of Republic Act 9054, expanding the area of autonomy. The ARMM is now comprised of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi- Tawi, Basilan and the Islamic City of Marawi. 32

Addressing the Demands for self-determination

Muslims did not want to be part of the Philippines as manifested in their petition before the US Congress for separation and their continuing struggle for self- determination. However, instead of giving the Moros self-determination, the central government would just attempt to integrate them and, worse, infuse their ancestral lands with resettlement projects for people from the north, changing the demography of Mindanao and further marginalizing the Muslims, economically and politically. 33

Continuing Poverty and Underdevelopment

The epic struggle of the Bangsamoro against foreign colonization then against the Philippine Government at the onset of the 1970s left them impoverished and lagging behind the rest of the country in all facets of development. They have become dislocated and marginalized by war and unjust government policy. With poverty incidence of 46.9%, ARMM has become the poorest among the 17regions in the country

32 Retrieved from: http://armm.gov.ph/, date retrieved: November 15, 2013. 33 S. Tanggol. 2010. "Regional Autonomy, Federalism and the Bangsamoro Issue.

with the province of Lanao del Sur posting the highest at 68.9% and Maguindanao at 57.8%. 34 In the Philippine Human Development Report of 2005, four of the five ARMM provinces occupy the last four slots among the bottom ten provinces in the Human Development Index Ranking.

One major factor that impedes the proper delivery of basic services, as well as limits the capacities of LGUs, is the lack of “decentralization” within ARMM itself. Although National Government Association‟s staffs were generally devolved to the municipal level, in the ARMM they were devolved only to the regional level, and remain under the control of the regional government. Since the regional government assumed responsibility for devolved services, those services have not improved failed to improve their constituency‟s quality of life. 35

Limitations: ARMM

Autonomous Region as a Local Government and its Relationship to the National Government

The discussion in Kida vs. Senate involved a premise and ruling that “[f]rom the perspective of the Constitution, autonomous regions are considered one of the forms of local governments, as evident from Article X of the Constitution entitled „Local Government.” These Autonomous regions are established and discussed under Sections 15 to 21 of said article. Furthermore the Supreme Court ruled that the “autonomy granted to ARMM cannot be invoked to defeat national policies and concerns.[It] cannot be used to exempt the region having to act in accordance with national policy mandated by no less than the Constitution” 36

In the case of Basco vs. PAGCOR 37 , the Supreme Court stand that under a unitary system of government, local governments can only be an intra-sovereign subdivision of a sovereign nation, and it cannot be an imperium in imperio. Therefore,

34 National Statistics and Coordination Board, 2013.

35 Rodriguez. Rethinking Federalism in the Light of Social Justice.

36 Kida vs. Senate, G.R. No. 196271, October 18, 2011.

37 Basco vs. Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, 197 SCRA 52 (1991).

the ARMM being a form of local government unit, although granted with political autonomy it shall remain a regional entity which will continue to operate within the larger framework of the State. It is still subject to the national policies set by the national government, save only for those specific areas reserved by the Constitution for regional autonomous determination

Extent of Powers of Autonomous Regions

The Kida Decision clarified the reserved powers of the National Government vis- à-vis the enumerated Powers of the autonomous regions under Sec. 20, Art. X of the 1987 Constitution. Those not enumerated are actually to be exercised by the national government.” Section 20 of Article X provides:

“Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws, the Organic Act of Autonomous Regions shall provide for legislative powers over:

(1) Administrative organization; (2) Creation of sources of revenues; (3) Ancestral domain and natural resources; (4) Personal, family, and property relations; (5) Regional urban and rural planning development; (6) Economic, social, and tourism development; (7) Educational policies; (8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage; and (9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the region.”

Regional laws are subject not only to the Constitution but also to national laws, in

a practically blanket manner, precisely as a function or feature of the unitary system of government.

In the case Sema vs. COMELEC, 38 the Supreme Court held that ARMM Regional assembly cannot create a province without a legislative district because the Constitution

mandates that every province shall have a legislative district. Moreover, it cannot enact

a law creating a national office like the office of a district representative of Congress

38 Sema vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 77597, July 16, 2008.

because its legislative powers operate only within its territorial jurisdiction.

Noteworthy in this case is the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Dante Tinga; “[w]ith this ruling, the Court has dealt another severe blow to the cause of local autonomy.” He described local autonomy rule for Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera region as a “new paradigm [that] is crystallized under Article X of the Constitution…

such a paradigm partakes of a constitutional mandate.”

progressive point that “if there is no constitutional bar against the exercise of the powers of government by the autonomous government in Muslim Mindanao, particularly by the Regional Assembly, then there is no basis to thwart the constitutional design by denying such powers to that body.”

He further made the

The rationale for the herein Decision shows how the autonomous regions are still very much tied up to (and tied down by) “the status quo of a unitary system.

The trend of Supreme Court decisions is very much influenced by the growing awareness of the ills in the ARMM. There is direct correlation between ARMM as a failed experiment and the evolving jurisprudence tipping power and control to the national government at the expense of the region‟s autonomy as decentralization of power. Despite the introduction of electoral democracy and the “political integration” of the Bangsamoro into the larger body politic, the current state of ARMM is still far from what the Moros are hoping for- self-determination. There is need of social legislation, addressing not only the resolution of the political dimension of the insurgency of the Bangsamoro but the root causes of underdevelopment in the region as a whole that fueled their rebellion in the first place. One thing is for sure, it is the Bangsamoro themselves who should determine what is good for themselves.

Federalism: On Economy

Another advantage of Federalism is in its distribution of goods. Federalism gears towards decentralization of government giving each state the capacity to be self-reliant in almost all aspects of their governance; each state has the responsibility to generate income on their own finding ways to fund different projects to its constituents. Although it

is not far from the concept of LGU its advantage is that the income from the production of a certain region or 'state' in a Federal form of government will return from where it came from. In other words each state has a big responsibility to generate their own income since its own income will be their own source of fund.

In the Philippine Context: Local Government Unit

We have decided to focus our attention with the Local Government Unit, since it has somewhat similar concept to that of a Federal form of government which gives autonomy to each Local Government Unit in terms of their own ways of taxation and legislation. How is the budget allocated with the LGUs?

A research was conducted by the Government of the Philippines together with Department of Local and Interior Government, United Nations Environment Programme and United Nation Development Programme entitled 'Review of collection and distribution of revenues from natural resources‟ that were published last July 2012. It has the aim to come up with a recommendation on how to increase the share of LGUs from the national wealth; it discussed how our present local government units receive revenues from the National government as well as the income from their own natural resources.

According to the research citing section 6 and 7, Article X of the 1987 Philippines constitution which states “ Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.” And that “Local governments shall be entitled to an equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their respective areas, in the manner provided by law, including sharing the same with the inhabitants by way of direct benefits.”

According to the research the Local Government Unit's largest budget allocation comes from the Internal Revenue Allocation. Aside from that the LGU has shares from the Bureau of Internal revenue from the taxes collected that were generated from the natural resources found in their place. The problem with this is that, there are places

which do not generate much income from their natural resources but because on the nature of their place. For example a city that does not have any natural resources but is

a center of business might generate a lot of income because of the rich economic

activities. Aside from the income they generate through taxes collected by their LGUs, they will also be having budget allocation from the National government. Given that set up, how about the Local Government Unit who generates billions because of the Natural Resources found in their place (ex. mining) but is not in a form of a city therefore has no additional way of generating income? Provided that the income generated from their natural resources will not be totally owned by the places but will only have shares as mandated by law.

Given that there is already an allocation and share from these resources that the law vests upon Local Government Units, in the Federal form of government these shares would be no longer shares but their own revenue. Meaning, there are chances that the Local Government Unit will benefit more from the income coming from the resources that are produced in their land. They become the major player of their economy and major administrator rather than waiting for the budget allocation coming from the National Government and the shares provided by law in terms of the present natural resources seen in their land.

People will be more involved in terms of their economic activity and will probably give more concern in terms of production, will thus produce more imagination, involvement on how they can make their economy more sustainable and productive. It

is because their main source of income is not the allocation from the government which

comes from different provinces but based from their own production. Everybody will have their role in the state . Not only the producers but also the consumers and most of all the state government. This kind of system in the Federal form of government will really benefit the place which generates big revenues in terms of their production and natural resources but in return might receive less than what they have produced. As what the former President Gloria said in his 2005 State of the Nation Address “Perhaps it is time to take the power from the center to the countryside that feeds it”

Federalism: On Culture

It cannot be disputed that the Philippines is a country rich in culture. Pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial traditions and customs still exist in the country. Although already not in their purest form (i.e. indigenous people experienced acculturation) but still the beliefs and way of thinking these periods brought become embedded and accepted in our practice and is still evident on how we view things in our society. It has also become a major player on how we make laws. One evident example is our being subject to colonial rule of Spanish which brought Catholicism in the country. 150 years from our liberation from the Spanish Colony we still adopt the view on Catholicism thus played a great role on how legislator view some of the laws passed in our country. One good example is the existing debate on the law of Reproductive Health Bill. It is an issue where the Catholic sector in our country involves itself so much in the issue to the point that some of its members or dioceses were dropping names of the politicians not to be voted last election because of their stance on the issue.

Culture is one of the price possessions of a place. Since culture is unique on each place once it is lost then there will be no other community which will adopt it since they do not practice the kind of way of life, beliefs of people since they have their own. Sometimes, culture can be lost when the assimilation to the central government which aims for 'homogenic' way of viewing things, meaning, they lay down rules on what is right and wrong even though it does not agree with the tradition of a place. Since the Philippines is rich on that and it has been very proud of it, it cannot afford to lose these culture practiced by different group of people found in different parts of the countries because of centralization. Our government has in fact recognized their importance and enact law that will protect them. One major law that acknowledges their uniqueness and sovereignty is of course found in the 1987 Philippines Constitution which acknowledges the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera Autonomous Region. These places had their own system of government way back the pre-colonial times. The Spain failed to assimilate these groups into their own government which has of course the goal of Christianizing people. Although it is to be remembered that they are not the only cultural groups whom the Spanish Colonizers failed to integrate to their own

government. With that the government has also enacted law for our indigenous people.

One statute which protects the right of our Indigenous People is RA 8371 or the “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997” .Its Declaration of State and policy particularly section 2 and 3 provides:

a) The State shall recognize and promote the rights of ICCs/IPs within the


of national unity and development;

b) The State shall protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural wellbeing and shall recognize the applicability of customary laws governing property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral domain;

This state policy of IPRA Law protects the right of our IP most especially in their ancestral domain. However, despite of this law there are still pressing issues regarding the management of their ancestral domain. One issue that is concurrent is the exploitation of their ancestral domain by the foreign investors through exploration and possible applying for permit allowing massive exploitation of our own natural resources which are allowed by the National Government and in fact aided by them through deployment of military officials not the local police to protect these foreign investors from possible action of the IP groups. If a population or a local government unit is dominated by our minority group, the power and the approval of state makes it impossible to insist their own autonomy and probably voice out their opinion about these possible exploration and exploitation.

With the federal form of government, the National state cannot dictate to the federal states on what their decision when foreign investors enter their places especially the ancestral domain since the federal government where these ancestral domains are located has the sole authority.

As the preservation of the place of a community is highly connected to the culture of a place, the protection of their ancestral domain through the autonomy given by the Federal form of government is definitely important.

Not only that, a place which has different set of customs can already enact law

without having to consider the main constitution of the land since they can very well make their own set of constitution. Their concept of justice and way of implementing it might be different from what the central government have. Implementing the central government's idea might also in a way force these groups to change their views thus it will affect their culture. It might prevent them from practicing it which is supposed to be the number one requirement to keep traditions alive, it is to constant practice and reinforcement. With the Federal form of government, as what have been mentioned in the early parts of this paper, it will allow the people to create laws in accordance with their own concept, may it be of law, justice, and on how they manage to plan their economy or land without contradicting their own customs.

Conversion to Federalism

A shift from a unitary form of government to a federal one would entail a stringent

process with a need to lay down a long-term plan to fully realize the change in the form

of government. This includes envisioning the phase of transition in implementing federalism as well as change management during the initiation, planning and execution stages of the conversion.

It may readily be perceived that the shift to federalism will be met with much

resistance from unitary system advocates as well as citizens used to the norm or present system of Local Government Units. However, it must be pointed out that the change we envision is not an overhaul. A presidential system will still be retained albeit a federal form will be adopted instead of the unitary form. Given the current system of

decentralization and autonomy given to regional and local governments, the transition will find easier application as compared to a strictly centralized government.

Moreover, to avoid these problems, an intricate framework for integration and a high level of democratic political development is needed. 39 It bears stressing that the conversion is a long-term endeavour; thus a need for an extensive plan of action.

39 M. Fillipov & O. Shvetsova, Federalism, Democracy and Democratization, January 2011, Binghamton University, New York.

Steps for Conversion to a Federal-Presidential Government

In order to facilitate a smooth transition from a unitary to a federal form of government, a ten-year preparation plan was proposed by Alex Brillantes, Jr., a prominent name in the field of political science especially in local governance. The first five years of his proposed plan are more construed towards the creation and administration of a federal movement organization while the last half deals more on the steps in attaining a newly adopted Constitution. Throughout the plan, the need for continuous holding of conferences and seminars to inform about federalism is evident.

Using the Brillantes transition action plan as a guide, we have come up with the proposed plan for conversion as follows:

Preparatory Stage

Constitutional Convention

Creation of a Constitutional Convention tasked to revise the current Constitution and convert the unitary form of government to a federal one while retaining the presidential system

Holding of the Constitutional Convention including integration of proposals and deliberation on the intricacies and drafts of the amendments, revisions and/or changes for the new Constitution

Government Agencies

Listing of all government agencies, personnel and officials, both national and local, affected by the shift to federalism

Consultation with the governmental agencies on how the conversion will affect their institution, employees and objectives

Information Drive and Consultation

Conducting information seminars and media on federalism, how it will affect the country and the citizenry

Gather feedback on the people‟s concerns regarding the implementation and transition

Initiation Stage

Submission of the proposed amendments to the Constitution

Creation of the final proposed amendments/revisions through Congress

The proposed revision will be approved according to the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on Amendments and Revisions (Article


Transition Phase 1

Dissemination of copies of the approved proposal for the New Constitution, stressing the change to federalism

Conducting information seminars and media on the highlights of the changes brought about by the shift in government organization because of the implementation of federalism

Holding of an assembly with the heads of local government units for briefing on the effects of the conversion

Implementation Stage

The 1987 Philippine Constitution will be officially revised to pattern a federal form of government

Adoption of the new Philippine Constitution

Transition Phase 2

Addressing common misconceptions regarding the new Constitution and federal system


Interpretation of conflicting or vague provisions in the Constitution by the Supreme Court to be used as case laws

Transitioning of the functions as well as information, data or accounts of previous national government agencies to their state government counterparts

Transition Phase 3

Introduction of minor amendments to the new Constitution based on the feedback from the implementation, focusing on aspects of the Constitution which gave rise to misapprehensions and conflict

a) Preparatory Stage

To prepare for the implementation of federalism in the Philippines, the first task would be to revise the current Philippine Constitution accordingly. Article XVII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides for two ways in which the Constitution may be revised: through the Congress or through a constitutional commission. Of these two, we strongly believe that the creation of a constitutional convention will be more practical and wise given that the Congress is directly affected if federalism will be pursued. A constitutional convention, similar to the 2005 Consultative Commission, will function independently of the Congress, although there is a need as well for representatives from the same department. However, unlike the 2005 ConCom, this constitutional convention will mainly be tasked to look into the change from unitary to federal, excluding the shift from a presidential system to a parliamentary.

During this stage, the various government agencies, bureaus, offices and departments expected to be affected by this change must also be identified and consulted with. The rationale behind this is that the institutions themselves as well as the public officers and employees under them will be susceptible to change; they may be expanded, reduced in size, transferred, or totally abolished depending on the functions of their offices. Government agencies whose functions will be deemed under state or local government will be directed or transferred in control to the different states, if not abolished since the newly created states can create their own agencies anew. On the same rationale, those agencies which will become purely national in nature might need expansion to accommodate the overall needs of the federal government.

The desired change in the form of government should be handled with great care and diligence. It is important that the initial presentation to the public be well-accepted or at the very least, not met with negative or even detrimental perception. This will serve as

the foundation as to how the next stages of the transition will be received. Included in this stage is a thorough information drive to enable the people to fully understand the nature and effects of the conversion. It must be evident to them that democracy will still stand; they must be able to determine the extent of the change in order to have politically mature decisions.

b) Initiation Stage

The initiating factor for the transition towards federalism will be the official recommendation given by the duly assembled constitutional convention. This will serve as the major reference or basis for the push for revision of the current Philippine Constitution. This may or may not be forwarded to Congress for initiation of the process of revision. However, it would be advisable that the Congress be the one to initiate the change for smoother and faster convening.

c) Transition Phase 1

Once the proposal for the revision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution has been officially approved, the next step would be to inform the public of the actual changes the proposed Constitution will give effect to. In contrast to the information drive in the preparatory stage, the information to be disseminated in this stage will be the actual changes and not simple those foreseen. The original and the proposed Constitution as well as highlights of the changes especially those brought about by the shift to federalism must be made readily available to the people through different media. The public must also be informed on when and how the voting for ratification will take place.

Other than the general public, the government agencies and instrumentalities affected, as listed from the preparatory stage, must as well be briefed thoroughly of the actual changes that will take effect if and when the proposed Constitution will be ratified by the people. A plan on the transitioning of the different agencies to their state or local government counterparts must also be created in consultation with them. Salaries, benefits, employment assistance and aid, and other transitional measures or assistance must also be given the officers and employees.


Implementation Stage

On the day set for the plebiscite, the people of the Philippines will vote for the approval or disapproval of the proposed Constitution. If the voting will be successful and the votes are in favor of the new Constitution, then the new Constitution will be deemed ratified in accordance to Section 4, Article XVII of the Constitution. The new Constitution will take effect on the same day of ratification, the day when the sovereign people voted. 40

e) Transition Phase 2

The second transition phase after the adoption of the new Constitution will focus on issue management. There may be points of the new Constitution which, although already approved by the people, will give rise to different interpretations. The task to interpret possible lapses, conflicts, misunderstanding or misconception will necessarily fall upon the judicial department. It is expected that during this phase, cases will be filed which seek the resolution of problem areas in the interpretation and application of the Constitution.

In terms of the government agencies, their transitioning must also be started in light of the adoption of the new Constitution. The guidelines, as created in the first phase of the transition, must be followed in order for a smooth transition of information, data, employees, and accounts from the previous national agencies to the newly created agencies under each state government.

f) Transition Phase 3

The last step for the conversion would still involve transitioning. At this stage, amendments to the newly adopted Constitution may be introduced with reference to various decided cases and recommendations from the Supreme Court or lower court judges. This phase will necessarily follow only if there is a need for amendment to change obvious flaws or inconsistencies based on jurisprudence. If these problems may be remedied by interpretation, there will be no need as the principles established in case laws will guide future cases on the same issues.

40 De Leon vs. Esguerra, G.R. No. 78059 (August 31, 1987), 153 SCRA 602.


Federalism in general offers a wide ranges of advantage over that of unitary system. First and foremost it brings closer the people to their own government. It is because of its 'banner' concept which is decentralization. It brings the central government to their own region. It will promotes not only 'meaningful' but a genuine autonomy to the Local Government. It brings more responsibility to the leaders to be more effective and innovative interms of their legislation and governance. Given that, it will also bring a long lasting peace in the longstanding conflict in Mindanao regarding the ARMM and the wish of the Bangsamoro to have a genuine autonomy over their ancestral land without being removed from the Jurisdiction of the Philippines.

Second it will encourage locals to be more involve in their production of goods as well as in boosting their economic activities since they only have their land as their major source of income. Not only that, these people in return would be more cautious in protecting their own Natural resources since it is the only source of income and that the immediate goal should be a sustainable development in economy rather than massive destruction and foreign intrusion.

And last, it protects culture. As what have been pointed out in the earlier parts of this paper, federalism gives liberty of laws to the states. Given the diversity of culture we might not have that homogeneic view of things.Some customs or laws of a place might be contradictory to that of the other place. This kind of conflicts might be addressed better if the power are decentralized and will be given to the local government units.

The process of changing the federal form of government might be a painstaking one.In fact it can be considered as radical. From the creation of the Consitutional Commissions to the different transition phases which involves information drive and different consultations with different government agencies which might be affected with the change of constitution, real dedication and support from the people are needed to make this transition meaningful and operative.

Although debates may arise as to the timeliness of this change of constitution but if now is not the appropiate time, when? There are so many pressing issues in our country our present government can no longer address that not even the change of administration can do. It is because our problems are already deeply rooted with the a problematic system. The system of bureacracy inherent in a unitary form of government which is supposedly good but is now a breeding area of officials who are corrupt and are motivated by their own personal interest. Our present system is hopeless because the people had already learned to accept, deal and even participate in it (I.e the presence of fixers, redtape) which should never be the case.

Federalism does not guarantee to solve these problems. What this kind of govermment offers is a brand NEW form of system. A kind of government that will bring the people closer to it. A kind of system that symbolizes a fresh start from the long evil practice of people who are in power who sees government as not a public service but of business. A kind of system which inculcates to the mind of the people that they should expect much from their leaders and that they should be vigilant with their rights because they are already a major player in the success of their own government. A kind of system which gives independence to the people thus giving them no choice but to rely on their own efforts. And lastly a kind of system which gives autonomy to its region, giving them the liberation of creating their individual consitution without them being called another country.

Then we go back to our main question: “Would changing our traditional unitary Republic to the Federal Republic of the Philippines the right choice?” Given all the things that has been discussed in this paper, we are in definitely in the affirmative. What we are really after is the better state of our country. And we firmly believe that although Federalism might not be perfect but it is definitely the right choice. It can bring us to the kind of Philippines every Filipino deserves. A kind of Philippines that not our present kind of government can give us. A kind of Philippines that only Federal government can give. Federalism is the answer. Federalism now!

Primary Sources

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines

Basco v s . Phil ippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation , G. R . No. 91649 ( May 14, 1991), 197 SCRA 52.

Disomangcop vs. Secretary, G.R. No. 149848 (November 25, 2004), 444 SCRA 203.

Ganzon vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 93252, 93746, 95245 (August 5, 1991), 200 SCRA 271, 281.

The Indigenous People's Rights Act, RA 8371, approved October 29, 1997.

Kida vs. Senate, G.R. No. 196271, (October 18, 2011), resolved February 28, 2012.

The Local Government Code of 1991, Republic Act No. 7160, effective January 1, 1992.

Sema vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 77597 (July 16, 2008).

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