Federalism: Issues, Risks and Disadvantages1

Joseph Reylan Bustos Viray Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila

Preliminary Remarks The never-ending conflict in Mindanao; the growing rate of poverty in most regions; the continuing insurgencies in Central Luzon and some parts of the country; the systemic graft and corruption in government; the (forgivable) immaturity of the electorate; strident cry for cultural recognition; and the instability of political systems are just some of the troubles the country is beset and plagued with. With these mounting problems, federalism is viewed by many as the only hope for a country that is going a precipitous drop. Notwithstanding the numerous advantages and benefits of federalism as articulated by its advocates, federalism is not without any defect. I will present the other side of the coin. I will attempt to manifest some issues to resolve , risks to encounter in, and disadvantages of federalism/federal system. My presentation will be divided into interrelated sections ( § ), to wit: (1) Issues to Resolve; (2) Risks to encounter in Federalism; (3) Disadvantages of Federalism; and (4) Conclusion. § I. Issues to Resolve Before going further, I would like to present to you some important issues about federalism or federal system which must be resolved first before a strong advocacy for transformation is made. First, what type of federalism is advocated? It must be emphasized that federalism takes several forms. The following are some types of federalism according to how powers and functions between federal government and state/local government are distributed: 1. 2. 3. Cooperative federalism Competitive federalism Coercive federalism

In Cooperative federalism, federal and state/local governments share responsibilities in certain areas/services to ensure the operation of national programs throughout the country. The following countries possess this type of federalism: Ethiopia, Germany, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. 2 In Competitive federalism, the federal government has a limited role in state/ local government. On the other hand, state/local governments has a bigger role in managing their own affairs. The following countries possess this type: Pakistan, Belgium, Australia, Brazil, Micronesia, Switzerland and United Kingdom. 3 In Coercive federalism, the federal government continues to ‘direct’ both national and state policy. Laws of state/local governments may be preempted by the federal government. Nigeria, which has a federal military government, is the best example for this type of federalism.4 Each type of federalism carries with it advantages and corresponding disadvantages which, to a large extent, different from other types. For instance, coercive federalism of Nigeria, being dominated by federal military government was just an evil incarnate of the very same system it had tried to avoid (e.i

A Paper delivered at the 45th National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute sponsored by The Order of The Knights of Rizal, December 18, 2007, Teachers Camp, Baguio City. 2 Primer on Federalism. This primer was prepared mainly by a group of students and professors from the University of the Philippines; Kalayaan College; and other sectors with Dr. Clarita Carlos of the Department of Political Science, UP Diliman, who was herself assisted by Annexis Hannah V. Beltran. 3 Ibid. pp.4-5.

Ibid. p. 5.

Dictatorship). The same disadvantage is not present in competitive federalism, where the power of the federal government is greatly reduced to give way to a more powerful local/federal government. One disadvantage of competitive federalism which is not present in coercive federalism is that in the former, call for national obedience and mobilization is quite difficult because of the powerful local political players, whose persona and influence, at some points, orchestrate the social behavior of their constituencies. In the case of coercive federalism, call for national obedience is easy because of the overwhelming authority of the federal military government. Since the type and structure of federalism suited for the country are not yet well defined and clear5, it is important then that a thorough study about it should be undertaken before a strong advocacy is pushed. There are two phases that I can imagine before a substantial advocacy is made: first: agree on what type of federalism is to be advocated and adopted; and second: assess the specific type as to its advantages and disadvantages---this is to allow the entire populace, if possible, to meaningfully weigh them. By this, parameters in the discussions and debates would be clear, and thus people will not be confused. It is to be stressed that unless and until a defined federal system is agreed upon, debate about it and much less, transforming the country into federal system cannot possibly happen. Even if, for instance, meaningful debates and fora are undertaken all throughout the archipelago to iron out hazy things about federalism, there would still be problems. One, we cannot possibly expect majority of our people to intellectualize and brilliantly study the structures of federalism. This is because there is doubt on whether the ‘masa’ class, which occupies the biggest strata, can possibly participate in the discussions and debates. Surely, these debates would just be dominated by intelligent elites. Can this intelligent class articulate the sentiments and aspirations of the masa? Perhaps, the answer is in the negative. Arguably though, federalism’s structures, mechanisms and applicability to Philippine context cannot be possibly discovered and learned in a short span of time. 6 The United States of America took a very long political history before everything was put into proper places. It took them more than two hundred years before a clearly defined federal system was put in place. In fact, USA started their system in 1787, through conventions, not as a federation but as a confederation of states which proved to be unsuccessful. 7 Canada, Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland which are known to be models of Federalism, did not change their systems in such a short time. For instance, Switzerland developed its federal system from the various local units called ‘cantons’ which have been in conflict with each other in a span of more than a century. Despite the very long preparations undertaken by the United States of America, the federal system they set up has been continually put to test as to whether it could accommodate, tolerate and recognize cultural and racial (non-whites and whites) divergences. Take for example the turbulent year 1960s in America. Even as the civil rights movement registered legal and constitutional victories like the enactment of Civil Rights Act in 1964, still many activists began to grumble that the federal government was not to be trusted. The year 1964 was even a witness of a number of violent riots in several cities like Harlem and Rochester, New York, and New Jersey. It was said that brutal actions by white police officers sparkled the riots. James Baldwin, a black writer, even said that white officers patrolling black neighborhoods represented “the force of the white world”. If 1964 was fiery and violent, 1965 was even more so. In August, blacks gutted the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts; thirty-four people were killed.8 There are still numerous riots that happened all throughout America in the 60s. Hence, I can only supposed that if USA was not spared with all these chaos even with its history-long preparations, what assurances can the Filipinos have that same scenario would not happen in a federal government/system established in haste.


In the same primer, it was said that ”the type of federalism suited for the Philippines can be determined only through discussion, consultation and debate among our people”. Further it was said, “the Philippines can develop its own unique model of federalism based on the various models that have been adopted by other countries” (p. 8). Clearly, in the minds of the advocates there is no clear form yet to speak of. 6 In Transforming Our Unitary System to a Federal System: A Pragmatic, Development Approach, (CLCD, 2000), p.1., Prof. Jose Abueva, a former University President, proposes that the transition to a federal state be done in two phases in a span of ten years starting 2000-2010 to allow for a careful examination of proposed constitutional changes, discussions and exchanges of ideas throughout the nation. 7 James MacGregor Burns, et.al, Government by the People: Bicentennial Edition 1987-1989, (USA: Prentice Hall, 1987), p. 42. 8 Mary Beth Norton, et. al, A People & A Nation: A History of the United States Vol.II , (USA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990), P. 945-947.

Second, are we ready for federalism? After carefully weighing the advantages vis a vis the disadvantages of a particular type of federal system, another issue that must be resolved is whether we, as a nation, ready for federalism right at the moment. This question was answered by Prof. Mina Ramirez, President of the Asian Social Institute (Manila), in the negative. She pointed out that Philippine political leaders, Filipino mindsets and values, and socio-cultural dimensions are not ready yet for another system (such as federalism).9 (1) Let us examine our political leaders. Most of our politicians are from wealthy families. Being so, they represent the sentiments of their class rather than their poor and lower class constituencies. In a survey result shown by Eric Gutierrez of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in his book entitled Ties That Bind (1994), it was noted that only 13 members of the House of Representatives representing 6.6% belong to the Lower Middle Class and all the rest belong to either Upper Middle Class (49.2%) and Upper Class (44.2 %).10 (See Fig.4) Generally, federal systems of what ever kind should encourage wider participation by the populace, be it in policy formulation, planning, administration and electoral processes. It would be extremely difficult, though admittedly possible, for a participatory governance to take place without politicians from wealthy families sacrificing some of their personal interests. Turncoatism is commonplace. Turncoatism means that politicians in our country switch parties almost every elections. They do not run under a party because of its platforms and principles but because they consider several factors, such as (a) party resources/finances; (b) winnability; (c) surveys; and (d) networks. That is the reason why a candidate would change affiliations when another party demonstrates edge over one or two of these factors. In the 1994 elections, (right after EDSA II) many politicians, including then Congressman Villar, crossed party lines and joined other politicians to organize a senatorial line up called K4. In the last 2007 elections, because of Gloria Arroyo’s decreasing popularity, Sen. Manny Villar joined the very same party or group led by its figure head Erap Estrada, whose impeachment, for the most part, was his (Villar) making. This character of our politicians is an indication that they are not politically matured and thus are not fitted to take on another form of government. For a politician to be matured, he must represent the ideals and principles of a party in various issues even if it would cause him his post. Sadly, this is absent in most of our politicians. (2) Next is Filipino Mind Sets. Prof. Ramirez emphasized that genuinely good or morally upright Filipinos do not want to dip their fingers into politics.11 They do not want to join the dirty game played by dirty players. There are two reasons I can think of, these are: (1) they are afraid that politics would change them to worse instead of them changing the political culture; or (2) they are aware that it is exceedingly difficult to win over well ingrained political figures. Some Filipino poor take their chances in elections not because of noble designs but because they want to earn extra money from kickbacks, bribes, SOP, and professional lobbying. Filipino mind set towards elections is equally alarming. Most Filipino voters choose their candidates on the basis of, but not limited to (a) winnability; (b) utang na loob; (c) face-value (hitsura); (d) charisma; (e) media exposures; (f) eloquence; (g) pakikisama; etc. Majority do not vote on the basis of (a) capability; (b) leadership skills; (c) knowledge of the job; (d) moral upbringing; and (e) fortitude. These are only few manifestations of political immaturity of some Filipinos. (3) Socio/Cultural dimensions. The Philippines is continuously shaping its cultural identity amidst diversity. We are always looking for something Filipino in what we do, create, and think, apart from our regional/ethnic character. Yes, there have been evidences which point to our regional attachments but these I think are overshadowed by our

In Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Federalism, posted on http//: www.kat.ph, accessed on Dec 11, 2007. Prof. Ramirez does not absolutely dislike federalism, she even advocated for a Swiss Model of federalism for the country. However, she is aware that before federalism is considered. Issues on whether we are ready as a people must be addressed. In her opinion, at the moment, we are not ready. 10 These figures are based on the 1992 Declaration of Assets and Liabilities; Personal Resumes; and other information. 11 In Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Federalism.

common aspiration of creating an image of what is Filipino. This is perhaps more obvious in Filipino immigrants around the world. Filipinos abroad attest that despite our diverse cultural characters, there are always some attributes that bind us together. The trend that I see is that instead of the country being divided into several cultures and regions, soon enough, the Philippine islands would be closer together than ever. This, I think, will be initiated by millions of balikbayans who have great influence over their families. Hence, proposals capitalizing on the diversity of cultures in the country are perhaps products of misconceptions and misreading of the contemporary Filipino diaspora. The advent of globalization, and tremendous development of information and transport technology make the world shrink in size by the day. There has never been a time in history that virtually accommodated intercultural dialogues as much as the 21st century. The Philippines, being a smaller unit of the world, was also affected by these developments. A Bicolano may be exposed with the culture of an Ilocano friend by emails, friendster accounts, my space, blogspot, electronic conferencing and on line chatting in a matter of minutes. Or a generous Kapampangan can treat his beautiful Cebuano girlfriend dinner in a five star hotel in Cebu in two hours. § II. Risks to Encounter in Federalism I foresee the following risks that we must encounter if we are to transform this nation into a federal state. I do not however compel you to believe me. But I just want to put across the message that federalism brings with it some risks which we have to expect and if possible contend with or even do away with.

(1) Local Political Clans May Gain More Power and Influence.
There are realities in Philippine politics that we have been so accustomed with and among which, political clans swell in various regions from up north to down south. In Region 1, the Marcos clan dominates provincial politics in Ilocos Norte. Despite the Marcos domination, the Farinas clan, a rival clan, controls Laoag City. Ilocos sur is at the hands of the following clans: Singson and Baterina. La Union is controlled by Ortega clan, Dumpit clan and Nisce clan. Pangasinan is home for several clans: Estrada and Perez clans control the eastern part of the province; the central province is dominated by the Agbayani clan; and the north-west part is controlled by De Venecia clan. Cordillera Autonomous Region is home for the following clans: Valera Clan in Abra; Luna clan; and Paredes clan. Apayao is dominated by Bulut clan and Dalwasen clan. Ifugao is in the hands of Brawner and Cappleman clans. Dominguez, Dalog, Malinas, Claver and Mayaen clans in Mountain province. Molinas, Cosalan and Dangwa clans in Benguet. 12 Region 2 is dominated by the following clans: 13 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Enrile clan in North Eastern Cagayan; Mamba clan in the Southern Cagayan; Dy clan in Isabela; Singuian, Reyes, Miranda, Alvares, Abaya, and Albano clans in some parts of Isabela; Cua clan in Quirino; and Perez and Cuaresma clans in Nueva Vizcaya

Region 3 has the following clans:14 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Joson, Umali and Villareal clans in Nueva Ecija; Cojuangco, Aquino, and Yap clans in Tarlac; Diaz, Gordon, Lacbain and Magsaysay of Zambalez; Arroyo, David, Bondoc, Lapid and Pineda clans in Pampanga; Garcia clan in Bataan; Dela Cruz, Pagdanganan, Roqueros, Sarmiento, Silverio, Alvarado and Ople clans in Bulacan;


Eric Gutierrez, Ties that Bind : A Guide to Family, Business and Other Interest of the Ninth House of Representatives, (Manila: PCIJ, 1994). See also ‘A Few Clans Still Control RP Politics’, in The Northern Dispatch Weekly, July 15, 2007, (www.nordis.net/blog/); Karen Tiongson-Mayrina, Allan Vallarta and Brenda Barrientos, ‘Political clans extend Power base, groom newbies in barangay posts’, in GMA News, 10/31/2007, (www.gmanews.tv). 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid.

Region 4 has the following clans:15 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Angara clan in Aurora; Tanada, Suarez and Enverga clans in Quezon; Ynarez in Rizal; Remulla and Revilla clans in Cavite; Recto, Perez, and Laurel clans in Batangas; Lazaro and Olivarez clans in Laguna; Reyes of Marinduque; Villarosa and Mendiola clans in Mindoro Occidental; Andaya clan in Mindoro Oriental; and Hagedorn and Mitra in Palawan;

Other known clans in the country are the following:16 1. 2. 3. 4. Villafuerte of Camarines Sur; Alfelor, Fuentebella, Delfin, Padilla clans in Camarines Norte; Lagman, Escudero and Frivaldo in Sorsogon; and Espinosa and Kho in Masbate.

In Mindanao, Datumanong, Akbar, Ecleo, Barbers, and Dimaporo clans are deep-rooted. 17 Federalism does not promise to dismantle these well entrenched political clans. There is even a prospect that they would be more powerful and influential because of the decentralization of authority and power. This was shown in a study that was conducted by Prof. Emmanuel De Guzman for his masteral dissertation submitted to the Sociology Department of Ateneo De Manila University. 18 For his analysis, Prof. De Guzman argued that the Local Government Code of 1991 which guaranteed autonomy to LGUs, while maintaining the central unitary government, failed to tear down the political clan operating in the research site. According to Prof. De Guzman, the Code’s provisions for local autonomy, for one, granting corporate status19 to LGUs actually open the way to further entrenchment of traditional-patrimonial leaders. He claimed that by granting corporate status to LGUs, the Code also accords them the powers normally conferred to private corporations such as the power to generate and apply resources, enter into contracts, and negotiate and secure grants. These political and economic powers granted to LGUs gave local dynasty opportunity to easily conspire with National Government Agency functionaries who are supposed to check these powers. They also provide clan members with additional resources to secure the personal loyalty of their henchmen and paint a philanthropic picture themselves by being patrons, brokers, job givers, saviors in emergencies, even guardian angels of local people. More importantly, the provisions strengthen the dynasty’s capacity for unilateral control of provincial power. The provisions on Internal Revenue Allotment20, Special Education Fund21 and Development Funds 22, according to De Guzman, likewise enabled the clan to use extralegal means to silence their political enemies and eventually secure control over local leaders in the entire province. As a corporate entity, the LGU negotiates with the private sector for the ‘financing, construction, maintenance, operation, and management of infrastructure projects’23 . De Guzman claimed that:
15 16

Ibid. Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18 Emmanuel C. De Guzman, ‘The Local Government Code and the Reconstitution of Power in a Philippine Municipality’, In The Loyola Schools Review Vol.1, (Quezon City, Office of Research and Publications, ADMU, 2001), pp. 67-88. 19 Local Government Code of 1991, Title 1, Chapter 2, Sec. 14. 20 LGC 1991, Title 3, Chapter 1, Sec. 284. 21 LGC 1991, Chapter 2, Sec. 309. 22 LGC 1991, Title 6, Sec. 109. 23 LGC 1991, Title 4, Sec. 302.

“This allows the dynasty to corner provincial infrastructural projects for itself by farming out contracts to dummy corporations or by directly selling contracts to private corporations. The clan cunningly utilizes the proceeds of these shadowy transactions to maintain a formidable private army composed of armed thugs and goons who freely roam the province without fear of arrest, conviction or 0punishment.” 24 Political clans would have greater control over the LGU’s resources and finances in federalism than it can have in Local Government Code of 1991. Hence by analogy and extension, federalism (which is designed to strengthen local government units and promote highly decentralized government) would even more likely result in further entrenchment of local political clans. Moreover, in federal type of elections, it is almost certain that local elites could easily win votes. Clans in power can cleverly utilize their money and influence to win votes. For instance, in a municipality with only 10 to 15 thousand voters, a candidate can take the mayoralty position by just spending one thousand pesos per voter or a total of 10 million pesos. This amount is not enormous for a candidate who earns an average of 100 million pesos from both legitimate and illegitimate businesses. Admittedly, this electoral practice is also prevalent in the unitary system of government that we have today and it is not likely to be addressed by Federal system either. Hence, the attributes of federalism make this practice more widespread and rampant. Uneven Distribution of Wealth among Local Units. (2) It can lead to neglect of some regions. Economic Realities. Inequalities in local and regional economy are shown in the latest statistics conducted by Industry Statistics Division, National Statistics Office (2007) . Regionwise, the combined regions of CALABARZON and MIMAROPA generated the highest output valued at Php 1, 328.7 billion in 2005, which is nearly half (45.6%) of the total output value of the entire manufacturing sector. This was followed by NCR and Central Luzon with Php 562.9 billion (19.3) and Php 387. 8 billion (13.3%), respectively. Altogether, the 3 regions accounted for 78.3 % of the total output manufacturing sector. In terms of employment, CALABARZON and MIMAROPA registered the highest rate of 41.1%, followed by NCR with 26.4%, Central Visayas with 11.9%, and Central Luzon with 10.4 %. There are other various statistics which show the uneven distribution of economic opportunities to the different regions in the country. This reality would even be more unbridled if a federal state government is established. The following are my reasons: (1) Regions which are performing well would definitely become even more forceful because opportunities, from the national government and those coming from within, would then be concentrated on these regions. (2) Less performing regions would remain stagnant. This is because these regions would have fewer opportunities because most of these opportunities are already in the hands of the well performing ones. (3) Regions differ in the availability of natural resources. (4) Ability to raise revenues differs in various regions. This was encountered by USA in recent years. Alaska, with few people and much wealth, has almost four times the taxing capacity of Mississippi, which has many people and few mineral resources. The SunbeltFrostbelt economic conflict in America is another case to account. Economic conditions in the Frostbelt, especially New England, have improved with the growth of high-tech industries while those in the Sunbelt, dependent upon oil and other resources, have declined. 25 Aside from economic inequalities, the number of voters of each region also has effect on the uneven distribution of wealth and opportunities. Regions like NCR and Central Visayas which have big number of voters would have advantage in terms of opportunities coming from the national leadership. The psychology of Philippine politicians would suggest this. National politicians would tend to concentrate government grants to regions with big number of voters. This scenario was the same dilemma which was encountered by USA. California, New York, Texas, Illinois and Ohio had economic advantage over other States. California (47) is a home of many major aerospace and high tech industries. New York (36) is the

Ibid. Here, De Guzman was referring to his observations about the particular research site he studied. However, this is likely the same scenario that occurs in other areas dominated by clans. 25 James Mac Gregor Burns , et. al., p42.

central business district of America. NASA Space Center is located in Texas (29). Illinois (24) is an important industrial city. There is an economic reindustrialization in Ohio (23). This scenario is likely to happen in a federal Philippines. (3) Spillovers This disadvantage is especially important with political decentralization and federalism. Activities undertaken in one region can affect the activities and well-being in other regions. These spillover effects can work both ways, positive as well as negative. Positive spillover effects create advantages for other regions. For example, when a region has a very good educational system, eventually some of the welleducated citizens will move to other regions. These regions will then also benefit from the better educational system in other regions. But what are alarming are its negative effects. Negative spillover effects mostly have to do with pollution created in one region which spreads to other regions. The provision of public goods that produce positive spillovers will be too low. This is because the benefit that the public good produces for other regions is not taken into account by the region which produces the public good. Production which creates negative spillovers on the other hand will be too high because regional governments will fail to internalize the costs imposed on other regions. The result is an inefficient allocation of resources because regions only care about their own benefits and costs and do not consider the effects of the policies on other regions.26 § III. Disadvantages of Federalism (1) States and local governments lack sufficient expertise in several areas. States and local governments may lack sufficient expertise in the following areas: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Defense Environmental Problems Advent of International criminality Disaster Avoidance and Management etc.

Defense. The dawning of international terrorism is not only apparent but real. From reports, the southern part of the country is home for a number of terrorist groups having link and connections with international organizations like Al Qeada. There are even reports, as gathered by Maria Ressa of then CNN and now ABS CBN, that point to the claim that the southern Philippines was used as a training ground of Al Queada members who are to be appointed as suicide bombers in the September 11, New York incident. In fact, terrorists’ activities had already killed thousands of lives in the country. 27 The national military forces as it is now is having difficulty in countering terrorism because of several factors : (1) limited resources; (2) Poor intelligence system; (3) Corrupt Military officials; (4) Crude and outdated war machineries and (5) scarce number of recruits. With this, the government tried to forge networks with other countries like USA and Britain, to fortify further the forces. This is the trend. Countries with a common objective of curbing international terrorism join together as they gather strengths anew. This is because terrorists operate on a much larger scale that is internationally. Their operations transcend national boundaries. With this as a background, it is just wise to assess whether federalism, which banks on decentralization and fragmentation, could provide the local units capability to counter terrorism. For sure, (1) local government units cannot equal the limited resources of the national government, they are far behind; (2) cannot forge wide network as the national military organization; (3) and they have scarcer number of would be recruits. Hence, if we are serious about reducing, if not eliminating, international terrorism in the country, let us go by the flow. We should fortify our armed forces by creating or establishing a united, non-fragmented, harmonized Military Organization. Moreover, we should cultivate in all regions and across all cultures the sense of trust towards our military personnel in order that military intelligence gathering would be easy.
26 27

H.S Rosen, Public Finance, (New York: MacGraw Hill, 2002). Harry Lorenzo and Archimedes R. Piga, Public Safety: Dimensions and Concerns, (Institute of Strategic and International Studies, 2001), pp81-86.

I am not saying that in a federal system, this strong military organization that we need could not be possible. What I want to point out is that in a young federal government that we are to start, fragmentation in the military is in the horizon. Why? Local units would initially be overwhelmed by the power dispersed to them and hence would have the tendency to establish a provision in their independent constitutions their own military force. This is to protect and shelter the power they possess. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to secure local powers without the use of might and arms. Environmental Problems. It is difficult for an extremely decentralized government like federalism to address environmental problems. (These are what I see): (1) For instance, Province X enacted a law such as Clean Air Act. The law was perfectly crafted. Unanimously approved by local legislators. And overwhelmingly accepted by its populace. But there is a minor problem, Province Y, adjacent to province X, refused to enact the same law because it would mean flight of all the major manufacturers located within its boundary. Hence, the Clean Air Act enacted by Province X would be put to naught. (2)Moves now to heal the environment tend to be global. Hence, addressing environmental problems by regions or states would be ineffectual. International Criminality. There are a number of transnational crime organizations operating in the Philippines. The Chinese Triads, the 14-K and the United Bamboo Gangs are primarily responsible for the trafficking of ‘shabu’ into the country. This huge supplies of shabu come from mainland China, Hongkong, and Taiwan. Illegal drug trade in the Philippines is estimated to be a P240-billion business enterprises annually. It is almost 50 percent of the total annual budget of the Philippines.28 According to Lorenzo, a Police Colonel—Academician, the emergence of a global village has drastically changed the landscape of human activity, including the way people conduct their business. Further, he said that while globalization initially brought economic prosperity and promise, opportunities for transnational crimes have also flourished.29 Like transnational business corporations, criminal groups have also become well organized and sophisticated with extensive global operations and networks. In order to have a fighting chance against transnational criminal corporations, governments should acquire the same degree of sophistication and equivalent capabilities to match them. It is beyond any one country, no matter how rich and powerful, to do it alone. Andres Gonzalez Diaz pointed out: “The criminal organizations have developed new forms of crimes, while we have remained fighting individually. We should fill our domestic spaces with special legislation, but we have to struggle in order to achieve the best international legal harmony.” 30 The aim now is to forge international cooperation among nations to absolutely put an end to international criminality. Thus, fragmentation of resources, strategies and forces (possible in federalism) would not be a wise decision at the moment. Disaster Avoidance and Management. Disaster management is a major concern in the 21st Century. It is vital because of increasing dangers to the world environment due to natural hazards and their effects to national economy. Being within the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, geographic location and physical environment of the Philippine Islands makes it prone to all kinds of natural disasters. On the average, our country is frequented by at least 19 typhoons every year. Between 1980 and 1990, a total of 213 typhoons crossed the country affecting 25 million people and resulting in 5, 952 deaths, about 14,000 missing or injured and property damage of about P45 Billion. Floods due to excessive rainfall usually accompanying typhoons have also caused widespread damage. In 1989 alone, flood damaged property and crops worth over P390 Million. Correspondingly, earthquakes jostled the country. The strongest and most devastating of which hit Luzon on July 16, 1990, affecting 259, 951 families, caused the death of 1, 666 persons and injured 3, 561. Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in June 1991 affected the lives of nearly half a million (413,711) families. With this as a background, the Philippine Government established National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) . It is mandated to establish policy guidelines on emergency preparedness and disaster operations involving rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Corollary to this, disaster management has become
28 29

Ibid. p89. Ibid. p90. 30 Andres Gonzalez Andrez, “Harmonization of Laws: The Colombian Experience”, in the Congress of Compatibility of Laws of Fight Against Narcocriminality, Buenos Aires 2-4 August, 1993.

uncomplicated. Now, if federalism could not provide the same organization and harmony, disaster management would be difficult. The difficulty would lie on the fact that in federal system of government there is likely a confusion of functions and responsibility between Federal government and State Government in case of disaters. Try the case of New Orleans, the state was devastated by typhoon Katrina. Thousands of lives and property were affected. Rescue efforts were delayed because of confusions. There was confusion as to whom the disaster management function belongs. Was it with the Federal Government or the State Government? Apparently, the confusion brought thousands of lives to grave. (2) State and local officials tend to be parochial. Local leaders like governors, mayors and others would tend to be bothered so much with their local concerns, disregarding national interests. For instance, in Danao, in Central Visayas, illegal gun making is a household industry. Hence, if a local leader in Danao would be parochial, he would likely be making decisions and actions for the benefit of the town folks such as legalizing gun making. Such decisions would be detrimental to other regions which maintain and promote gun less society. What federalism cannot do?

(3) Federalism cannot solve the Mindanao Conflict—
Many advocates of Federalism viewed federalism as the only hope for the total resolution of conflict in Mindanao. This I do not agree. Here are some my points. Conflict in Mindanao is a result of multifarious factors such as call for sovereignty and independence, terrorism, and family feuds (rido). Perhaps, the first factor (call for sovereignty and independence) would be resolved in federalism. However, the two other factors (terrorism and rido) could not be eliminated by federalism. The case of terrorism was already discussed above. In a survey conducted by Jamail Kamlian of Mindanao State University—Iligan entitled “Incidences of Clan Conflict and Conflict Management: Survey of feuding Families and Clans in Selected Provinces of Mindanao”, it was shown that there are 671 rido cases in nine selected Mindanao provinces. The highest was in Lanao Del Norte with 164 reported cases, followed by Sulu with 145, Zamboanga De Sur with 91, Zamboanga Sibugay with 75, Zamboanga Del Norte with 62, Basilan with 60, North Cotabato with 31, Tawi Tawi with 25 and Sultan Kudarat with 18. 31 It is noteworthy that most of the provinces where rido or family feuds are prevalent are the same provinces where arm conflicts are rampant. In a federal system, the likely scenario is this: families will continue to war against each other because they would compete in the political arena where local control and power is the prize. Hence, Federalism, in its hope to eliminate and resolve the problem in Mindanao would not be effective. Moreover, federalism would even contribute to further the proliferation of these family conflicts. (4) Federalism cannot solve the problem of poverty--There have been studies which point to the argument that decentralization has no impact on economic growth. Let us take the study that was conducted by Rodriquez-Pose A, and A. Bwire 32 for London School of Economics. Rodriquez-Pose and Bwire investigated decentralization using regional data of three federal countries: Germany, India and the US, and three recently devolved countries Italy, Spain and Mexico. The basic intuition of their study is as follows. For each region within these countries, centralized and decentralized periods are identified during the period 1975-2000. Using linear regression models they then test whether regional growth rates in decentralized periods are higher than in centralized periods, provided
31 32

Asia Foundation and US AID, 2005. A. Rodriquez-Pose and A. Bwire, The economic (In) Efficiency of Devolution, (London School of Economics, Department of Geography and Environment, 2003).

that the national growth rates are similar. In this approach, they did not find a positive relationship between decentralization and growth. Hence, federalism does not clearly promise to solve the problem of poverty because in the first place as shown by the study, there is no positive relationship between decentralization and economic growth. (5) Federalism cannot addressed the continuing cry for cultural recognition--There have been studies that show that federalism cannot address the continuing cry for cultural recognition.33 The theory is very simple. Federalism’s banner is ‘unity amidst cultural diversity’. Ideally, the banner is so palatable. But try to look at things this way. For instance, cultural recognition advocated or asserted by W ethnic group was accepted by the National government through establishment of federalism. However, within W ethnic group, there are diverse sub-groups which thrive like A. A sub group advocated and asserted its difference with other sub groups following the same logic that W ethnic group used to assert its recognition. And in the same logic, women in A sub group reacted. They cried that their sentiments are not articulated by men-advocates of A. This would be a never ending sequence. § IV. Conclusion With all the above considerations, let us try to reassess our positions on the looming federalization of the country. We need to focus upon our oneness as a people. Let us highlight the positive things we have in common, rather than our differences. For a nation is bound by the things that it loves or identifies with. The essence of nationhood is thinking, feeling, and caring for the nation as a whole, not only for an elite minority, one’s region or sector but for the vast majority of our people---whether Christian, Muslim, Lumad, peasant, poor, women, leftist, loyalist or other.34 Lastly, I will leave to you a quotation from an eminent scholar Prof. Felipe De Leon: .”Bound by a shared history, languages, folklore, artistic traditions, culinary habits, kinship patterns and many other factors, it will not be difficult for us to subordinate selfish interest to the national welfare, if we truly desire to....Let us regain our strengths, and cultivate our oneness and solidarity as a people. Let us all participate in the noble objective of developing self reliance, drawing from our collective spirit all the energy and courage we need to steer the country peacefully toward its creative destiny and sovereign majesty in the community of nations.” 35

Thank You and more power......

33 34

See James Tully, Strange Multiplicity Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity, (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Felipe De Leon, Cultural Awareness: Keystone to National Development, (Filipino Spiritual Culture), series 9. 35 Ibid.


Abueva, Jose, Transforming Our Unitary System to a Federal System: A Pragmatic, Development Approach, (CLCD, 2000). Andrez, Andres Gonzalez, “Harmonization of Laws: The Colombian Experience”, in the Congress of Compatibility of Laws of Fight Against Narcocriminality, Buenos Aires 2-4 August, 1993. De Guzman, Emmanuel C., ‘The Local Government Code and the Reconstitution of Power in a Philippine Municipality’, In The Loyola Schools Review Vol.1, (Quezon City, Office of Research and Publications, ADMU, 2001). De Leon, Felipe, Cultural Awareness: Keystone to National Development, (Filipino Spiritual Culture), series 9. Gutierrez, Eric, Ties that Bind : A Guide to Family, Business and Other Interest of the Ninth House of Representatives, (Manila: PCIJ, 1994).

Kamlian, Jamail, “Incidences of Clan Conflict and Conflict Management: Survey of feuding Families and Clans in Selected Provinces of Mindanao, (Asia Foundation and US AID, 2005).
Lorenzo, Harry and Piga, Archimedes R., Public Safety: Dimensions and Concerns, (Institute of Strategic and International Studies, 2001). MacGregor, James, Burns, et.al, Government by the People: Bicentennial Edition 1987-1989, (USA: Prentice Hall, 1987). Norton, Mary Beth, et. al, A People & A Nation: A History of the United States Vol.II , (USA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990). Ramirez, Mina, Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Federalism, posted on http//: www.kat.ph, accessed on Dec 11, 2007. , we are not ready. Rodriquez-Pose, A and Bwire, A., The economic (In) Efficiency of Devolution, (London School of Economics, Department of Geography and Environment, 2003). Rosen, H.S, Public Finance, (New York: MacGraw Hill, 2002). Tiongson-Mayrina, Karen, Vallarta, Allan and Barrientos, Brenda, ‘Political clans extend Power base, groom newbies in barangay posts’, in GMA News, 10/31/2007, (www.gmanews.tv). Tully, James, Strange Multiplicity Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity, (Cambridge University Press, 1995). ‘A Few Clans Still Control RP Politics’, in The Northern Dispatch Weekly, July 15, 2007, (www.nordis.net/blog/); Primer on Federalism Local Government Code of 1991 _________ Joseph Reylan B. Viray teaches Social and Political Thoughts, Philosophy, and literature at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Manila.