I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.


Should we federalize?

Listening to Nene Pimentel rant about federalization, anyone would be justified in believing that transforming the Philippines into a federal state would solve all our problems.

But will it really? Come to that, do we even really know what federalism truly entails? For instance, if we federalize, who shoulders the national debt? Will the Federal Government  assume the burden all by its lonesome? Or will the onus be divided among the States? If it is divided among the States, what will the basis of the division be? Alex Magno says that if the burden of the debt is spread out among the States, some will go bankrupt the following day, unable to meet the debt service requirements. Is he correct?

Seriously, there must be only a handful of people who can intelligently support or debunk Magno’s assertion. But it isn’t just this handful of smart people who will vote in a plebiscite for or against federalization. A vast majority of the votes will come from those people who have no clue – quite possibly including me. And with the timetable federalism’s rah-rah squad is pushing, how the heck can the electorate be informed enough to make an intelligent decision. What basis will we, the blissfully ignorant, have to choose? Pimentel’s glossy descriptions of the fruits of federalism? The passionate rhetoric of those opposed?

On another front, assuming that our federalism will at least resemble the USA’s, I can only assume that all existing departments will have to be replicated in each state – with the possible exception of the Bangko Sentral and the military. With a national budget already pushing into the trillions, how much more expensive will the federal system be?

And what about the military? With a unitary government, we can’t afford modern fighter planes; we can’t afford choppers that can stay up in the sky; our navy fleet is mostly made up of outrigger canoes. If we federalize, how can the States afford to organize, equip, and maintain their respective National Guards (assuming, once again, that we will be aping the US)?

Now consider the Judiciary and the Legislature. Each state will have to set up its own Supreme Court – since the existing SC will prolly become the Federal SC; and each state will have its own legislature. There is only one other existing legislature today, other than the two Houses of Congress – the Regional Legislative Assembly of the ARMM. How has that turned out? I mean, didn’t the SC just recently handed that body a smack-down when it uncreated Shariff Kabunsuan?

I could go on and on. But the bottom line is, will the electorate really be able to understand all these issues enough to formulate a reasonably intelligent decision?  And no one is even bothering to start educating people about federalism. I sincerely doubt it. All you hear about nowadays is how the archipelago will be cut up. And you can bet your last donut that the divisions were formulated more for political considerations than realistic; with not a whit being said about the nuts and bolts. Sometimes, it seems like the proponents just want it done, and leave the details to the devil. Kinda like how for a woman desperate to marry, the first order of business is to get a groom – any groom – to the altar.

That blows. So, to mitigate the suckiness of being ignorant about the various factors affecting this crucial decision, even just a little bit, read the Federalist papers here.

The Federalist Papers were written and published during the years 1787 and 1788 in several New York State newspapers to persuade New York voters to ratify the proposed constitution.

In total, the Federalist Papers consist of 85 essays outlining how this new government would operate and why this type of government was the best choice for the United States of America. All of the essays were signed “PUBLIUS” and the actual authors of some are under dispute, but the general consensus is that Alexander Hamilton wrote 52, James Madison wrote 28, and John Jay contributed the remaining five.

Sure, they refer to the US, but with the scarcity of works explaining Philippine Federalism to the Filipinos, these essays will at least be a good place to start. If anyone has any other suggestion, the comments section is the best place to post those suggestions. If you have links, I’ll post ’em too.

The way I see it, people at this stage are still too pre-occupied with how the Federated Philippines will look like. So, anything to get the education going will be a welcome change from the hysteria.


Filed under: federalism, politics,

One Response

  1. Mathew James says:

    Great post, it was very informative. I think its a must read.

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