Random Thoughts: Needed: Prudence in going Federal

“I’m not against federalism per se. But as British philosopher statesman Edmund Burke once memorably warned, “Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions, than ruined by too confident a security.” (Richard Heydarian, “Why Federalism”, HORIZONS, Philippine Daily INQUIRER July 17, 2018).


I’ve read several columns of Richard Heydarian and heard him being interviewed in TV Talk Shows. No doubt, he is a very knowledgeable and analytical commentator. I’ve learned a lot from his critical opinions especially on foreign affairs.
He rightly explained: “The crafting of a new constitution isn’t only a legal matter (too many lawyer members in our Consultative Committee or Con-Com). Instead, it is primarily a leap of faith into a new realm of political economy, namely the interface of power and finite resources.”
Heydarian admitted to be skeptical on the going push for federalism as I am also very doubtful of the Con-Com’s federalism proposals. Thus, we say: Be very prudent particularly on the issues of determining the number of Federal Regions to be created in our country and in the delineation of governmental powers between the National Federal Government and Regional Federal Governments. These questions are very crucial that could spell the success or failure in shifting to a Federal System.
One Editorial recently pointed out: “There is indeed a great deal that must be cleared up in the move to revise the constitution and set up a federal form of government. It appears that the Consultative Committee focused on legal, political, social, cultural and other aspects of its proposed new Constitution, and only belatedly considered the economic impact of its proposals. Its estimate of the costs is way below that of NEDA which is the national government agency concerned and familiar with funding matters.”
Our Davao-based Kilos Pederal Pagbabago (KPP) and People’s RevGov for Real Democracy Alliance (PRRDA) view the Con-Com’s federalism proposal as a Recipe for Disaster! Malacanang and Congress better watch out of this that could ruin our democratic government.
The KPP is prudently proposing the adoption of “Incremented Strategy” on the creation of Federal Regions. It is suggesting that we initially create five big and rich Federal Regions. KPP’s proposed delineation of governmental powers are: 27 Powers to National Federal Government, 35 Powers to Regional Federal Governments and 23 Powers to be shared by both Governments (see KPP’s 2017 Manual titled: “How to Federalize the Philippines”).

On the other hand, PRRDA is adopting the KPP’s federal proposals above. However, if the five federal Regions being proposed by KPP will not be acceptable to President Duterte, PRRDA is recommending a compromised version of initial eight Federal Regions.
KPP’s initial five federal Regions are: 1) North Luzon Federal Region; 2) National Capital Federal Region; 3) South Luzon Federal Region; 4) Visayas Federal Region; and 5) MINSUPALA (Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan) Federal Region. Its modified version of six Federal Regions will include Bangsamoro. While PRRDA is endorsing KPP’s six Federal Regions, it also has an amended compromised initial eight Federal Regions which are: 1) North Luzon Federal Region; 2) Central Luzon Federal Region; 3) Palawan-Negros Federal Region; 6) Cebu-Leyte Federal Region; 7) Bangsamoro Federal Region; and 8) Mindanao Federal Region.
Cordillera will be an autonomous region within the North Luzon Federal Region per PRRD proposal. Per KPP, Bangsamoro will be an autonomous region of M1NSUPALA Federal Region as well as Cordillera in North Luzon Federal Region.
Since PRRDA’s amended compromises initial eight Federal Regions which is three Federal Regions more than KPP, initial five federal Regions. It is advisable that we follow the Rule of the Thumb of less number of Federal Regions will get more exclusive governmental powers while more number of Federal Regions will get less exclusive governmental powers. The delineation of government powers approximately are: 30 Powers of National Federal Government, 30 Powers of Regional Federal Governments, and 25 Powers to be shared by both governments. Take note that 15 governmental powers are still under study.
Con-Com’s proposal of 18 weak Federal Regions with less governmental powers falls under the category to Permissive Federalism (of the worse kind) was the product of Con-Com members narrow imagination. KPP’s and PRRDA’s proposals of five to eight strong Federal Regions fall under the category of Competitive Federalism were products of pro-Federal Filipino aspirations.
The war between maintaining the present Unitary System versus shifting to a Federal System starts boiling. At this stage, the former which is supported by Filipino Imperialists are winning the battles due to their effective execution of their plan headed by the Yellow Army. The latter which is supported by the present administration are losing the battles because it has no veteran federalist Commanding General and no clear and effective battle plan to follow, thus confusion reigns in their camp.
We still have more or less, four years of the Duterte administration. As to who will win the war in the end is the big Question? This is a wake-up call to the Duterte administration.

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