Random Thoughts | A leap to disaster

“The time for federalism has come to our country. We have to move away from the style of unitary form of government, which has been in existence or set up originally by the Spaniards. It has always been a strong central government” (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte), “Du30: Presidential form of federalism better.” (Philippine Daily INQUIRER, June 18, 2018)

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Obviously, PRRD is fed up of “a strong central government” which we presently have. Thus, he wants badly to shift to a highly decentralized governmental system which is a Federal System soonest.
Unfortunately, the Consultative Committee PRRD created to prepare the first draft of a Federal Constitution have a different idea. They prefer the worst type of Permissive Federalism. They still would like to maintain a strong Federal Central government with 18 weak Federal Regions (States). Knowingly or unknowingly, the Con-Com is opting for a weak Federal Republic. Hence, the members of Con-Com want our country to shift to a weak Federal Republic from a weak Unitary Republic! This is not what PRRD promised to our people. Undoubtedly this is a leap to disaster!
Let’s talk of money matter. Presently, in our Unitary System all collected taxes are generally divided this way: 20 percent is allocated to our Local Government Units (LGU’s) and 80 percent to our National Government.
Federal advocates including PRRD, have been saying that when we shift to a Federal System, 20-30 percent of our taxes will be allocated to the Federal National Government while 70-80 percent for Federal Regions (States) including their LGU’s.
The Con-Com proposal we heard is this: 40 percent for Federal Regions and their LGUs and 60 percent to our Federal National Government. Clearly, not much change from the present allocation.
Let’s talk now of politics. We have 18 Federal Regions (States) and the election of senators will be regionwide. If two senators per region will be elected, it would mean 36 senators. This means more than 12 senators than what we have presently. There will be more senators with less responsibilities!
Regarding our Federal Regional Governments, Con-Com’s proposal is 18 Federal Governors and 18 Regional Vice-Governors plus 18 SETS of regional Sanggunian Members. Wow grabe! This might precipitate the abolition of our existing provinces to rationalize our overall political structure.
On top of these, thousands of government officials and employees will have to be appointed in the administration of our Federal National and 18 Regional Governments. This explosion of our bureaucracy, no doubt, is frightening to say the least. Surely this would mean more taxes from our people!
Per info, Con-Com still wants big businesses to pay their taxes in Makati instead of where their business activities are done. True federalists want the latter way than the former. Something is fishy here. Do we see the hands of big business in the Con-Com? Are there members of Con-Com connected directly or indirectly to big business? Is genuine Constitution Reform being compromised by Con-Com for political convenience or expediency at the expense of developmental organization?
In addition, many of our people also want to include the shift to a more inclusive economy system, strengthening of our political party system, which includes government funding and campaign expenditures and penalizing political turncoats and banning of political dynasties “through a set executor provision” in our new Federal- Presidential Constitution.
What lessons can we learn from all these happenings in our shift to a Federal System? Better yet, what unsolicited advices can we give PRRD on this tough-nut issue to save our nation? These are:
1. Go for RevGov in a democratic way in changing our flawed Constitution and shift to a truly Competitive Federal System.
2. Instruct the Con-Com to adopt incremental strategy in the creation of Federal Regions (States) starting with five big and rich Federal Regions(States) as recommended by the Kilos Pederal sa Pagbabago with more exclusive powers. We may also add a Bangsamoro Federal Region.
3. Require big businesses to pay taxes where they operate.
4. Adopt more or less 70-30 percent tax share in favor of Federal Regional (State) Governments.
It has been rightly said that all “Politics are local.” That’s why the foundation of a federal political structure is its Federal Regional Governments with their corresponding LGUs. Hence, a foundation of strong Federal Regions will make strong Federal Republic. A foundation of weak Federal Regions will result to a weak Federal Republic.

Posted in Opinion