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The main meat of the discussion on whether we should adopt federalism or not is that shifting

to federalism will empower local governments to facilitate faster delivery of basic services
necessary and appropriate to their respective constituents. This is viewed by the proponents of
a federal structure of government as the formula to surge economic development and alleviate
poverty. The current administration passionately believes that this will finally solve the
Imperial Manila laments of the probinsyanos, specifically the Southerners, and the armed
conflict in Mindanao. However, the fact that federal system is actually a state-building effort is
not always mentioned.
Previous legislators have responded to unsustainable and staggering economic development
by enacting the Local Government Code in 1991, which, in a manner, a federal system. We can
see that despite the mitigated unitarism for the past two decades, it is not the nature of a
system of government that causes it to fail, rather it is the people who operate the system. By
merely changing the system of government without changing the people, we cannot expect a
different positive result.
The weak points in the proposed system are as follows:
First, economically backward provinces or regions would have to be dependent on equalization
payments from richer areas one. The locally-generated funds of some municipalities are still
small and are still dependent on the IRA for their operations.
Second, as many as 70 percent of Filipino politicians are connected to dynasties who were able
to perpetuate themselves in power and amass vast wealth through corruption. Imagine how
much more influence and wealth will these dynasties monopolize if more powers from the
national government are devolved and handed over to their control.
Finally, this is not a silver bullet solution to the armed uprisings in Mindanao as what many
would envision because the Moros want a separate nation, not autonomy.
In the list of what can make our country better at this time, given the prevailing political
culture, our need for laws to fight corruption ranks much higher in importance and urgency
than the need to shift to a federal system of government. Federalism will not yield positive
results for the country at this time. Federalism will not solve poverty and inequality, simply
because it does not touch the real center. It only redraws the periphery. What we need at this
time is to allow well-meaning citizens a chance at public service, instead of allowing
government positions to be the birthright of de facto royal dynasties. Besides, the local
autonomy is yet to find a firm ground in the overall administration of government. Even the
promise to eradicate crime, drugs and corruption in three to six months can hardly happen if
there is no central authority.
At the very least, strengthened anticorruption instruments must first be in place before any
shift to a federal system of government is undertaken. These are indispensable preconditions
for a federal system of government to function for the peoples welfare.
The forms and structures of governments, should be born out of the unique experience and
history of the nation and not to be patterned from foreign structures and expect the same
outcome. As what political analysts would saywe should not repeat the haste under pressure
in making our present (1987) Constitution.
Bottomline, under ideal political conditions, a federal system of government may be better
than a unitary form of government. Unfortunately, we are not under ideal political conditions.