Posts Tagged ‘local autonomy’

More exchanges on federalism

November 12, 2008


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carlomasajo Says:
May 12, 2008 at 10:24 pm

sir rey, carlo masajo here. kaDEKADA. i strongly believe that federalism is a viable political system for the country in terms of administration. unitary government we have today is too centralized and constricts the development potential of other regions of the country.

but the pimentel proposal needs further fine tuning, and this is where the relevance of public debates enter. now, we all can divulge into the federalism plans and become an active participant in changing this nation.

http://akosijcmasajo.wordpress.com

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Tax Joven Says:
August 14, 2008 at 7:32 am

The road to federalism is fraught with danger. One is a cliff leading to beyond 2010 for Gloria. Is it worth it? No! Sen. Pimentel was well on the right track until derailed by I know not what. I think if reminded of his Local Autonomy he would retrace his steps. What is there in federalism which LA cannot do? Let’s get away from the clutches of Gloria and Imperial Manila. Let’s decentralize NOW. Not through federalism but through greater local autonomy for our LGU’s.

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Juanito Delgado Says:
August 14, 2008 at 11:40 am

We are now talking of federalism to resolve the so-called Problem in Mindanao.

As proposed by Senator Pimentel there will be three states for Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro, Northern Mindanao and Southern Mindanao.

We doubt if the Bangsamoro State will persist for long because of tribal animosities between those from the Sulu Archipelago (Tausogs, Samals and Yakans) and those from Central Mindanao (Maranaos and Maguindanaos) Just look at how the leaderships in the ARMM sways from leaders in the Sulu Archipelago and Central Mindanao.

In which case, in addition to the two states, Southern Mindanao and Northern Mindanao, let us create a separate state for the Sulu Archipelago (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) and another state for Central Mindanao for the Maranaos and the Maguindanaos)

We now have enought leaders from these two proposed regions and states to lead the people out of poverty and bondage from the central government in Manila.

Under the Pimentel proposal, Luzon will have four states, Viasayas will have four states but why should the second biggest island in the archipelago with all its resources and its people be divided into only three States.

Is this to deny Mindanao equal voices in the central government?

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reytrillana Says:
August 14, 2008 at 1:10 pm

I understand Tax Joven’s point when he asked, “what federalism can do that autonomy cannot achieve?” In theory, both autonomy and federalism (as well as decentralization, devolution and deconcentration) are intended to do the same thing: disperse powers from the center to the periphery; from the national to the local units. Seen this way, there seems to be no need for federalism. But as I explained in another blog entry (The Dilemma of Federalists), there is an important distinction between the two. While the mandate to provide autonomy was provided for in the 1987 Constitution, its implementing legislation was crafted by Congress. In the case of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, it was through RA 6734 and later the 1996 Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and EO 125. The point I am making is this: the extent to which autonomy did not work is caused by the inability and unwillingness to the central government to let go of its powers. Autonomy in a centralized set-up such as ours is bound to fail. The virtue of federalism in this regard is that the power arrangements are enshrined in the constitution. Local units acquire their powers not from the central government (through decentralization) but from the basic law itself. It will truly make the national government irrelevant!

I also share the distrust expressed by many over the recent overtures of GMA for charter change by riding on Sen. Pimentel’s proposal. I agree, and I urge everyone to be very cautious in dealing with this recent move by the palace. Simply put, GMA cannot be trusted. But I also believe that federalism is an important political reform for our nation. It is possible, I think, to continue our national discourse on the merits of federalism culminating in a Constitutional Convention (not Con Ass), even with the opportunistic GMA and her lackeys lurking in the background. We should not allow GMA to hijack an excellent idea in federalism. We should not allow her to paralyze us.

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reytrillana Says:
August 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm

The comments of Mr Delgado illustrates why the proposed shift to federalism has to be done through a Constitutional Convention. The people’s representatives must be given the opportunity to design the kind of federalism we need in this country (how many states, how it will be divided politically, geographically, fiscal divisions, etc). Sen Pimentel’s proposal should be seen as just that, a proposal that hopefully sets the course for a reasoned debate. Federalism is a sort of consensual agreement among the many components of a nation regarding the distribution of power between them and the federal/central government.

Mr. Delgado also asks whether Muslim Mindanao will have an equal voice in the central government. In a federal structure, that wouldn’t really matter because decisions that concern a particular state will have to be made by the state itself. Under a unitary system, we always look to Congress or the Palace for decisions; not in a federal structure. States are left alone (rightly so!) to deal with their own problems (including tribal divisions and the like).

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Tax Joven Says:
August 15, 2008 at 2:19 am

reytrillana, “…the extent to which autonomy did not work is caused by the inability and unwillingness to the central government to let go of its powers.” I agree. But let us be more specific, please. Congress, of which Sen. Pimentel has been almost a permanent fixture, is the culprit. Was the good Senator ever as passionate in pushing for more Local Autonomy as he is now with federalism?

As I see it he had been too busy with mundane things to be able to attend to a very important piece of legislation. Now he wants to make up for lost time, and comes up with a proposal that would eventually be beyond his control. Yet, even if a con-ass or a con-con, it would still be not as good as LA. In fact, it would just be like jumping from the fire pan into the fire.

But since I am not one who would cry over spilled milk, let me join the debate. Mr. Delgado proposes 12 States as opposed to the Senator’s 11. I say let us have as many “States” as there are Provinces and Cities. Why not? Anything a proposed State can do, Provinces and Cities can do better! For this, we do not need a cha-cha. We need a revolution, no less. And the best person to lead this is Sen. Nene Pimentel himself.

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Tax Joven Says:
August 15, 2008 at 3:01 am

Juanito Delgado: We doubt if the Bangsamoro State will persist for long because of tribal animosities between those from the Sulu Archipelago (Tausogs, Samals and Yakans) and those from Central Mindanao (Maranaos and Maguindanaos) Just look at how the leaderships in the ARMM sways from leaders in the Sulu Archipelago and Central Mindanao.
x-x-x-x-x-x-x

A very astute observation indeed. But you failed to consider that there are also Christians in the area! My point is this: howsoever you divide the country into states, intra-regional regional conflict will always arise. You think the Bicol region is cohesive and cordial enough? Try making it a State, and see them fight among themselves for favors from the State! Same thing will happen in all other Regions. Think about it.

Amendment to previous post: A sentence in paragraph two should read, Yet, even if a con-ass or a con-con goes for federalism, it would still be not as good as plain and simple LA.

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rey trillana Says:
August 18, 2008 at 12:11 am

Tax Joven: Congress, of which Sen. Pimentel has been almost a permanent fixture, is the culprit. Was the good Senator ever as passionate in pushing for more Local Autonomy as he is now with federalism?
========
Well, blame Sen. Pimentel, blame everybody if you like but that simply proves the point that local autonomy can never genuinely succeed in a governmental structure that is patently centralized. The system, its culture, simply resists autonomy. You have the IRA for example that is supposed to be the lifeblood of autonomous units but is instead being used by the cnetral government to guarantee subservience. If one has some beef with the messenger don’t shoot down the message.

And I agree that we need a revolution. The kind that federalism can potentially usher in.

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rey trillana Says:
August 18, 2008 at 12:13 am

if it is true that intra-regional conflict is a permanent fixture in the Philippines, then really is a need for a political arrangement that can best mitigate that. You think the unitary system can accommodate competing claims within regions?

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Tax Joven Says:
August 18, 2008 at 3:03 am

How is it that the central government can withhold the IRA at will? Isn’t its release supposed to be automatic or mandatory? A law is apparently being violated. Instead of exacting compliance or strenghtening it, what do you propose? A change in the System!

It is not the fault of the Charter that we are highly centralized. It is a problem of legislation. Congress simply doesn’t wasnt to give more powers to LGU’s. What makes you think it will have a change of heart if constituted as a con-ass?

There is virtually no conflict within regions now. There will be serious ones if funds are released through it. What’s wrong with giving funds directly to the LGU’s? Why amend the Constitution just to create new offices and sources of red tape? And, a State can and may secede. An LGU can’t.

I certainly would not hesitate to shoot down a pigeon that bears a message of destruction to our country. We can hardly move because of a bloated bureaucracy, yet Sen. Pimentel wants to create more of it! I would rather vote for zero Senators and Congressmen than vote for more of them!

I have no beef with a man who holds the vital formula and the expertise that can bring us out of the mess we are in now. He alone can lead us towards decentralization NOW, not after a cha-cha.

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Tax Joven Says:
August 18, 2008 at 8:44 am

I am tired of Gloria bashing. It does nothing but fan hatred against her. Hatred for her will not lead to a rebellion, not because we are a nation of cowards, but simply because a change in leadership will not necessarily bring relief. EDSA 1 and 2 taught us that this is so. Unfortunately, this is also true with elections no matter how clean and credible it may be. However, we need not bury our heads in despair. I see a solution at hand.

The formula is held by Sen. Nene Pimentel, numerically expressed as 20/80. If used to decentralize our country NOW, it could lead to our salvation. However, if used in federalism as envisioned by him, it would be disastrous for our country. I cannot understand why he wants to go through a circuitous and dangerous route when all he has to do is introduce amendments that would incorporate the formula to his Local Government Code.

It may be argued that Congress is not inclined to pass such a proposal or bill. But what makes him think that it would have a change of heart if convened as a con-ass? It would take a revolution, no less, for Congress to grant that much power to LGU’s! Sen. Pimentel goes around the Country pushing for federalism. This is an exercise in futility. Cha-cha is dead for now. Instead he should instigate a revolt or people power lead by the LGU’s to force Congress to decentralize NOW. It’s our way out.

This sentiment does not reflect my judgment on the performance of most LGU’s. But then that is another story

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reytrillana Says:
August 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I guess we both want the same thing Tax Joven; just different routes to be taken. IF you’re kind of revolution is possible under this set-up can happen then I pose no objection. Spain is not technically a federal country but nit operates as one through a successful policy of autonomy. I just don’t think it will happen in our country. I guess you have the same sentiment with regard to federalism.

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reytrillana Says:
August 22, 2008 at 2:29 pm

If you are tired of Gloria-bashing; I think we don’t have enough of it! Really. Not enough rage out there, I think.

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Tax Joven Says:
August 28, 2008 at 9:02 am

Rage will bring us nowhere, as in EDSA 1 & 2. The most difficult bar to hurdle is a question. For whom shall we fill the streets this time? This is why no coup would ever gain mass support, despite the massive discontent. Elections keep our hopes alive. False ones, mostly. Decentralization could keep Gloria in check. Also her successors.

Yours is a circuitous and uncertain route. Federalism is a senseless idea. It would free us of Imperial Manila, by strangling us with several States! I see decentralization as doable, compared to federalism. If only my idol, Senator Nene Pimentel, would regain his senses! The country needs him now.

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reytrillana Says:
September 21, 2008 at 11:12 pm

“Rage will bring us nowhere, as in EDSA 1 & 2. The most difficult bar to hurdle is a question. For whom shall we fill the streets this time? This is why no coup would ever gain mass support, despite the massive discontent. Elections keep our hopes alive. False ones, mostly. Decentralization could keep Gloria in check. Also her successors.”

The problem with many people is that they look at EDSA 1 and 2 as simply people going to the streets. This is wrong. Rallies, demonstrations, etc are just expressions. EDSA 1 in particular is an expression of the soul of a nation, an expression of its rage. The absence of rage simply shows a resigned and disempowered people.

Yours is a circuitous and uncertain route. Federalism is a senseless idea. It would free us of Imperial Manila, by strangling us with several States! I see decentralization as doable, compared to federalism. If only my idol, Senator Nene Pimentel, would regain his senses! The country needs him now. Circuitous and uncertain..yeah…but as opposed to what we have now? Why are people so afraid of sweeping changes? Strangling us with several states? As I wrote in my other reply, federalsim will make imperial Manila irrelevant. and even assuming your state (for example) become imperious then mechanisms for resistance are readily accessible. You fight your state then in an arena that you know.

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Tax Joven Says:
September 30, 2008 at 5:03 am

EDSA 1 was an expression of the soul of a nation, an expression of rage. So is silence. In EDSA 1 & 2 we leaped from the frying pan into the fire. Why should we leap again?

Our system is working despite flaws in implementation. It can be dramatically improved under the present charter, but nobody is making any move to do it. Congress promises to give it through a cha-cha powers that it withholds now. It’s senseless. If we have funds for Pangasinan, why don’t we give it directly to the province? Why do we have to course it through Tuguegarao? Why can’t you just allows lgu’s to operate without states hovering over their heads?

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Tax Joven Says:
October 1, 2008 at 8:36 pm

“You fight your state then in an arena you know.” Would an Ilocano or Igorot consider Northern Luzon as an area he knows? All I am asking for are amendments to the local government code which even federalist Dr. Jose Abueva proposes. Why go for sweeping changes when we can’t even fully implement and amend a simple law?

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October 6, 2008

Is it possible to pursue the benefits promised by federalism within the confines of the 1987 Charter? Yes, if Congress wills it. In fact, it may be the more practical approach. For this purpose, there is no need for a cha-cha, only a simple amendment to the local government code. For purposes of this discussion, I shall call this scheme, a highly decentralized unitary system or hdus.

This hdus is just like federalism, except that, instead of states, we will use local government units (lgu’s): provinces and cities. It would be similar to a type of federalism called permissive federalism, under which the state/local governments have only those powers and authorities permitted to them by the federal government. Examples of countries with this type of federalism are Austria, India, Malaysia, Mexico and the Russian Federation.

The question therefore is, shall we divide the country into states or shall we simply give more powers and authorities to our lgu’s? Let us take a look at how federalist justify the move towards federalism.

In a research report of the Center for Social Policy and Governance of the Kalayaan College, Abueva enumerated the theory behind Philippine federalization. The following are the hypotheses for the proposed shift from a unitary system to a federal system quoted from the research report with editing.

Let me respond to it point by point.

1. “The basis for establishing a federal system is that the Philippines has already achieved sufficient national unity and democratization, including a measure of decentralization and local autonomy. The latter will follow about a decade’s transition of “regionalization” and increased local autonomy involving both the national government and the local governments.”

If the Philippines has already achieved sufficient national unity, including a measure of local autonomy, why disturb it? Why not simply enhance it? “Regionalization” will only negate all  our gains at decentralization.

2. “Specifically, the 1987 Constitution’s design for the development of participatory democracy, local autonomy, and an active role for civil society in governance was a result of the growing difficulties and frustration with the country’s highly centralized unitary system during the authoritarian regime that started in September 1972.”

Yes. I agree with this statement. But has federalism got to do with this? If Congress failed to cope with the Charter’s design, shouldn’t its composition be changed, and not the document? Why blame the instrument, not the user?

3. “Federalism will respond to the demands of local leaders for their release from the costly, time-consuming, stifling, and demoralizing effects of excessive centralization and controls by the national government in the present unitary system.”

Yes. Federalism will do this. But it will do much more. It will replace central government with another governing body called states. Why not simply grant the more powers and authority to the lgu’s?

4. “The structures, processes, and responsibilities of the federation will challenge and energize the people and their state and local governments. Such further democratization will encourage creativity, initiative and innovation, spur inter-state competition, and foster state and local self-reliance instead of continued dependency.”

The reverse will happen. The unfamiliar structures, processes, and responsibilities of the federation will cause chaos and confusion. The people will be challenged and energized only if they are further democratized. This will take place at the local level only if there is no state that controls their movements.

5. “A federal system will greatly increase the capacity of the people and the government to deal with the country’s problems because the removal of the centralized structure that impose and sustain local dependence and stifle local initiative and resourcefulness will provide greater freedom and home rule. Therefore, they will be more interested in state and local governance because it is closer to them and will deal with under-development – local poverty, unemployment, injustice, inadequate social services and infrastructure, and low productivity.”

This scenario can only be possible if the lgu’s are allowed to operate with greater autonomy or without state control.

6. “In a federal structure that will consolidate the 80 provinces of the Philippines into 8 to 10 larger, integrated and more efficient and viable regions called states, substantial, faster and equitable development for the whole country is more likely to be achieved.”

There is no way by which any of the proposed states could be more efficient and viable than lgu’s.

7. “By participating in meaningful and challenging politics and governance at the state and local levels that impact directly the lives of the constituents, the people will be more empowered than if they continued to be alienated from their weak local governments and spectators in the affairs of far away national government institutions in the nation’s capital. Moreover, the people’s liberty will be protected by the further dispersion of power in the government and the society.”

In the proposed regions, leaders will have to start from scratch. Getting to know each other alone would be a big challenge. How long will it take for a state to be cohesive and operational? How can it make politics more meaningful and challenging?

8. “By governing the nation through interdependence and interaction with the states as regional governments, using the national language and a global language (such as English), the federal government will be better able to achieve and sustain national unity and identity. At the same time the states will be able to nurture, protect and enhance their regional cultures institutions and also contribute to national cultural development. Together the federal government and the states will be able to develop and sustain the nation’s cultural diversity and social pluralism.”

Judging from the proposed composition of states, the state governments would be hard-pressed just trying to deal with the varied concerns of its constituent provinces to be able to attend to state or national matters.

9. “A federal system will also be better able to respond to the external threats to national security and the challenges of globalization by strengthening the nation-state’s capacity to deal with its critical internal problems and development.”

The country can cope better with national security and globalization if its political subdivisions are cohesive and self-reliant. Lgu’s are, or can be. States will tend to be unwieldy and therefore unstable, Unless, perhaps, it is united by a strong urge to secede!

Conclusion: The above mentioned hypotheses for federalism seem to be not so rational. It will make Philippine governance more complex and expensive. The structure of a federal government will not empower the people nor accelerate the country’s development. A highly decentralized unitary system (huds) will.

Other issues and concerns:

1. “Senator Pimentel believes the federal system will dissipate the recurrent Moro Armed uprisings by giving them a federal state of their own which will develop and promote their unique culture.” A Muslim state will naturally adopt Muslim laws. Would the good Senator, perhaps, agree to the creation of a Christian state? Do we want to have a theocratic state in our country? Of anywhere else for that matter?

2. “A renaissance of regional languages, arts and cultures will enrich the national language and culture, and instill a deeper sense of both regional and national identities.”

The kindest thing I can say about this statement is that it was probably made without looking at the proposed provincial composition of states. The more appropriate thing to say is that states will destroy everything that we so dearly love and cherish in our regions, including our regional identities.