EGALITARIAN| Form and Substance

 FEDERALIZING the country is a system of government which needed a compatible form of government in order to maximize the benefits of a federal setup. Federalism in its fundamental sense is the determination of powers that will be exercised by levels of government. In a federal setup, there are tiers of government, the National Government, the Regional Government (State Government) and the Local Government. In this sense, the proposal to make the Philippines a Federal Republic takes the very essence of what are the powers that will be decentralized.

            A long talk with the pioneers and long-advocates of Federalism, Arch Chito Gavino and Tita Corrie Socorro yielded a meaningful and clearer picture. Architect Gavino, with his vast experience in national and local politics alongside his expertise in planning explained that any move to federalize the country must begin with understanding the political structure of the Philippines. On this I concur. Federalism is not a new movement; it has been there for more than 20 years. The call to pursue federal is not due to political convenience alone. The call to federalize is in response to the chronic poverty and hunger happening in the countryside, the imbalance of growth between the center and the periphery, the insurgencies which take roots in the denial of rights and identity, the dismal state of distribution of wealth of the country, the severe lack of opportunities in the periphery, the exclusivity of growth over the last 30 years. These are the reasons that we have to change the system of government. These are results of unitary government making public service highly centralized and distant from the governed. The central government remotely controls the local government’s public service operations through mechanisms like political appointments in the long list of supposedly career service offices. Another is of course through the fund releases. Local concerns are decided by the national in almost of respects, from welfare services, road construction, health operations, hiring of professionals and additional employees. In management science, this is micromanagement, if ever, the top leaders in the national government are really doing what they are supposed to be doing. A micromanagement caps the growth of an organization. No wonder, our country cannot grow much.

            Let me continue, making the country a federal republic also needs the fundamental elements in order to maximize its benefits. First-off is the form of government. The form of government may either be presidential or parliamentary. What is the difference of the two other than knowing there is a president in the former and a primer minister in the latter? The fundamental case in point is the pillars of the government.

There are three co-equal branches of government in the presidential: the legislative, executive and judiciary. In parliamentary, there are just two: parliament which is composed of the legislative and executive; and the judiciary.

The common debates in the presidential form of government is there is the ready check-and-balance mechanism to ensure that the legislative, in the creation of laws, will not abuse its power; the executive, in the operation of the government will not abuse its powers; and the judiciary to interpret the legality or constitutionality of the functions and actions of the executive and the legislative. However, according to constitutionalist, this is misunderstanding the check and balance as set forth by Montesquieu in his political theory treatise, Spirit of the Laws. Accordingly, the balance should not be the branches of the government in their functions, but in their relations to the governed. It is the protection of the constituents against the exercise of powers of the establishment. Then before, there were no bill of rights. Hence, given that the constitution already enumerates the Bill of Rights, then the check and balance among the pillars of the government is already made a contradictory effect towards development. In a presidential form of government, there is the certainty of a gridlock. Given that there is no center of power, all three maintains co-equal status, then, a deadlock is highly possibly. This is very costly. To impeach a president is costly; it punishes the whole executive department.

            A parliamentary government fuses the executive and legislative. It will just elect a prime minister to be the head of the government. The prime minister will then choose members of the cabinet from the parliament. In case that the prime minister loses the trust of the parliament, the whole parliament can just dissolve the government of the day by “vote of no confidence”, removes the prime minister without much cost. Here, the legislative is stronger than the executive in the fusion of powers.

            But the President wants a French Model of government.

Posted in Opinion