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Ateneo de Davao University

School of Nursing
“Would Rizal have chosen federalism?”
By: Randy David, June 19th, 2016, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Submitted by: Dango, Jaye Marie
July 19, 2016

The Liga. recognizing the archipelagic nature of the country and the disparate cultures that thrived in it. a political organization that anticipated the broad structures of a Filipino government. a cross between a political party and a self-help cooperative.” It was a first step toward building a homogenous nation. and homogenous body. In other words. its activities were supposed to be kept secret. interestingly. It may be assumed that he was aware that the Spaniards knew what he was up to. in the first instance. instead of building a political system along the existing fault lines of ethnic segmentation. cultivating in the people a capacity to differentiate political roles from ethnolinguistic loyalties. Rizal was a modern thinker. The draft constitution of the Liga contained provisions that might have initially appeared strange to those to whom he presented it. And yet. since he was recruiting influential people into the organization. were eager to kick out the foreigners but did not necessarily wish to come under the control of a dominant ethnic group. Its ultimate purpose was clearly to prepare the Filipino people for active citizenship in the modern project of self-government. vigorous. Indeed.” This is the first line under statement of purpose in the draft constitution he wrote for the Liga Filipina. Jose Rizal would have proposed a federal system of government for an independent Filipino nation. he was more concerned with “unit[ing] the whole Archipelago into one compact. and to perform duties and rights in a political organization independently of the diffused norms and obligations that bound them to a feudal social order. The seventh paragraph on organization embodied an emphatic wish for members to rise above their ethnic or tribal identities: “Each provincial council and popular council should adopt a name different from that of the locality or region. was overtly reformist in vision. This meant. federalism might have appealed to those who.“Would Rizal Have Chosen Federalism?” There are suggestions that. But. but the organizational infrastructure it laid out could as easily have served as the vehicle for revolution. Rizal was quite open about the formation of the Liga. Rizal was certainly aware of the persistence of strong regional identities in the country. in the closing years of Spanish rule. rather than a federation of tribes. . the Liga was not supposed to be an illegal or underground association.

Every member was required to adopt a new name. “The Supreme Council controls the whole Liga and communicates directly with the chiefs of the provincial councils and the popular councils. and a Supreme Council. The Supreme Council is composed of all the chiefs of the provincial councils. But its latent function. It only redraws the periphery. and economic stagnation. simply because it does not touch the real center. At the same time. In a globalized world where the levers of meaningful economic power and initiative lie outside the reach of national governments. the basic impulse that animated the establishment of the Liga had to do with the protection of the ordinary citizen from arbitrary power—i. while keeping his true name hidden and known only to the secretary of his council.. The provincial council controls the chiefs of the popular councils. The popular council alone has control over its members. it has lost much of its sheen. illiteracy. It is an illusion. These were the values that were uppermost in his mind when he drew the constitution of the Liga. it seems to me. . while the provincial council is made up of all the chiefs of the popular or town councils. the provincial councils. it has become fashionable to talk of subnational states improving their lot by linking up directly with the global system. must have been to encourage members to value their political identity and to keep this separate and autonomous from their other affiliations in everyday life. Rizal would have resolutely opposed political dynasties and warlords.e. The Liga constitution provided for three such levels of authority: the popular councils. The unitary nation-state that arose from the dissolution of the monarchical empires was a fresh idea in Rizal’s time. he intended the organization to be a laboratory for the emancipation of Filipinos from the scourge of poverty. from violence and injustice. Today. Federalism will not solve poverty and inequality. The adoption of an alias might have been rationalized as a security measure.” More than independence from Spain.

verbalized his dissatisfaction about federalism as a solution to poverty and inequality. The author then. and ignorance. at the root of which is a property system that has consigned more than half of the population to a life of perpetual deprivation. dependence. Rizal envisioned the nation that would be built on the foundations of the Liga. it states the country will be nowhere near the democratic and prosperous society that he imagined the country could be. in the later part of the essay.Summary: The article states that after one hundred and 24 years. It has to do with the form of government and also with the feudal social structure. .

once . He was wary that other big powers could easily take over the islands by exploiting internal dissensions. A system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units.Reaction: Federalism is defined as the allocation of power between the national government and regional government. Is it advisable for a country like us to adapt this kind of government? Would Rizal have proposed a federal system of government for an independent Filipino nation? Although I’m not sure if Rizal was really a federalist since nothing in his writings suggests that he believed in complicating the task of building a unified and strong nation by making space for the creation of autonomous regional governments.

next. and not solving poverty and inequality. It's Malacañang that decides how much to give local government units. We presently have a unitary form of government. Most administrative powers and resources are with the national government based in Metro Manila. it provides a barrier to the dominance of the majority. upon seeing and experiencing my country’s economic status. he appeared to subscribe to the principle of subsidiarity—the notion that decisions should be made as much as possible at the level closest to the citizens. Rizal did not leave detailed reasons for his call for a federal republic but based on the advantages of Federalism mentioned. economic and political problems and lastly. The process is prone to abuse. with governors and mayors sometimes having to beg Malacañang for projects they believe their communities need. it ensures that government remains close to the people because the state government argue that they are more in tune with the daily needs and aspirations of people especially relevant to small and isolated places.Spain relinquished control over them. In my opinion. Firstly. I would disagree with this article’s claim as to Federalism being an illusion. it encourages development of the nation in a decentralized and regional manner and allows for unique and innovative methods for attacking social. However. all of which coincides . and that only those that the local level cannot meaningfully carry out on its own should be entrusted to the higher levels.

Doctor Jose Rizal had foreseen the possible shift in the country's form of government. Now. to establish unity without destroying diversity. independent nation. Rizal's writings about it might sit well with the incoming administration. which can be summarized as a fundamental. His call for its favorable consideration will bring the nation from a unitary form of government born from the roiling blood of a colonial past to a federal form of government unfolding a future from an ancient heart. .with Rizal’s idea of a unified. the newly elect President Duterte has strongly brought forward Rizal’s vision of a Philippine federal republic.