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FEDERALISM AS A CONCEPT solution to Muslim Mindanao and Christian Luzon that came about because of Western

colonization.
By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2017 - 4:00pm
I think President Duterte is right about asking ABS-CBN to use their station to
explain and promote federalism. But the same problem of differences on how to structure a
federalistic government.
The reluctance to accept federalism comes from the fear of its political structure
and that it will ultimately lead to secession. It comes from the confusion between federalism Although there are many countries which adopted federalism, each had a way of
and secession. But if we consider federalism as a concept – it is about freedom. Attitudes organizing it according to their circumstances. According to political experts, federalism is
would change and unanimity will be achieved. It is about freedom albeit group freedom of emerging as the central ethos of an emerging civilization that recognizes both national and
smaller constituencies. If we defend individual liberties, we should also defend group sub-national identities and promotes regional and global frameworks for better
liberties. The federalist trend came with wars on religious and ethnic differences and understanding, coordination and cooperation. “In this sense, the philosophy of federation is
geographical disputes. transcending much beyond the system of governance to a way of life and civilization in the
new millennium.
It is well known that there are more than 25 countries in the world today that have
federal systems of government. That means more than 40 percent of the world are governed The federalists have formed a Forum of Federations. In Brussels the federation
by a federal system in one form or another. Together they represent 40 percent of the world’s elected officials, civil servants and scholars. It was started by the Government of Canada in
population. These include some of the largest and most complex democracies –India, the 1999, and currently has eight other partner governments: Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia,
USA, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Switzerland and Canada. But of these countries the most Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Switzerland. The Forum builds to make it possible for
successful is Switzerland. experienced federalists to share their knowledge and experience with new members. As far
as I know, it was the first invitation to the Philippines. It was headed by former Speaker Jose
Federalism is both a concept and a system of government. It means different things de Venecia and Senator Aquilino Pimentel. It holds international conferences every three
to different peoples. I began to accept it when federalists explained that as a concept it should years. I don’t know if we were invited to subsequent conferences.
be understood as freedom. It poses problems when it is defined as a system of government
because it divides countries to ethnic, political or religious groups. Many will tell you it is not Brazil hosted the sixth conference in 2013. I do know that Rody Duterte, as the
possible because of these differences. presidential candidate of the PDP Laban has been encouraged to take up the issue and
include the shift to federalism in his program of government.
I saw that happen in our discussions as the Commission for Constitutional
Amendments organized under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. One renowned What it means is that he will work for the Philippines to stay as one country with
columnist was worried about taxation, another member was concerned with the guidelines smaller communities especially in Mindanao that govern their communities but do not have
on how to divide federal constituencies and still another talked about the difficulties that political clout. Under federalism, these local governments will have the political clout to
happen to differences between poor constituencies and rich constituencies. Will it it be govern their communities. At the moment the big stumbling block in the governance of these
possible for a federal constituency to break away from the state? communities is the power to tax and budget their income for the community’s needs. In what
is known as IRA (the internal revenue allotment) the division between the national treasury
And yet, historically, most federations have come together as separate entities. A and the community is 60-40 with 60 going to the national government. When we went
good example are the 13 colonies in North America or the 26 cantons of Switzerland that around the Philippines talking to local authorities, they said that by the time the IRA is
came together to form a federal government. That means “retaining some powers to received, only 20 percent is left to spend for the local community.
themselves, but pooling others with the central government.”
With this kind of division, it is understandable why the local authorities are unable
There are also unitary countries – such as Spain, Belgium and South Africa that have to support themselves. The unjust division is also one of the reasons why the Muslims would
adopted federal structures. These maintain a common central government for some rather secede. So not surprisingly federalism is the best antidote to secession feared by most
purposes while empowering regional governments for other purposes. In many diverse Filipinos who do not understand the system.
societies, a federal system of government permits recognition of diversities of language,
culture, religion and ethnicity and unity of common interests and purpose. It would be the
I hope Rodrigo Duterte is determined to change the Constitution to structure our
politics and government to parliamentary federal government.

In his speech after being proclaimed the standard-bearer of PDP-Laban political


party, Duterte said he has no ambition to run for president, but decided to do so when his
political party’s leaders urged him to run and push for federalism.

“Kinausap ako to carry the torch of federalism,” Duterte said. “I will build a
nationwide consensus for federalism.” He is now chairman of the PDP-Laban Party.

Unfortunately that single statement should have won applause from the nation,
but instead his cussing made the headline.

Filipinos should be made to understand it is between Aquino’s BBL and his


candidates vs. Duterte‘s federalism and peace in Mindanao.

PDP-Laban had spearheaded the federalism movement for many years and it is only
now that it has finally gaining ground after more than a decade. It was made alive again by
Duterte when he became President.

Former President FVR should also be credited when he said “it is time we have the
first president from Mindanao…and federalism introduced to the people of the Philippines as
a solution to war that has claimed so many lives.