BIGGER AUTONOMOUS STATES FIRST by Chito Gavino III

by Federal Philippines | 12:18 PM in autonomous states, charter change, decentralization, federal republic, federalism, governance | comments (9)

“Federalism is based on ‘dual sovereignty’ of the Federation and the States…. In the Federal Republic every Estado is an autonomous regional component of the Federal Republic.” -oOoAs I have written in one of my previous articles, the first priority in an honest-to-goodness Charter Change (Cha-Cha) thru a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) is the shift from highly centralized Unitary System to a highly decentralized Federal System. The main reason, for this is to dismantle “Manila Imperialism” and achieve more effective and efficient governance. When we adopt a Federal System, we must carefully divide the Philippines into several autonomous States. The question then is: “How many States will compose a federalized Philippines?” In the book of Dr. Jose V. Abueva titled, “Charter Change for Good Governance” published by the Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP), eleven States has been proposed. These are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Bangsamoro (ARMM) with 5 provinces; Davao Region and Central Mindanao with 8 provinces; Western and Northern Mindanao with 12 provinces; Central-Eastern Visayas with 10 provinces; Western Visayas and Palawan with 7 provinces; Bicol with 7 provinces; Southern Luzon with 8 provinces; Metro Manila (NCR) with 6 provinces; Central Luzon with 7 provinces; Cordillera (CAR) with 6 provinces; andNorthern Luzon with 9 provinces;

The criteria adopted in this proposed division are: 1. 2. 3. Economic Viability Contiguousness; and Culture

The writer, on the other hand, recommends a “Two-Step Determination of Autonomous States” to ENSURE economic viabilities of these States with Minimum of financial “risk” for both the Federal / National government and State governments. Here is my proposed initial or first eight States: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Bangsamoro (ARMM) with 5 provinces; Davao Region and Central Mindanao with 8 provinces; Western and Northern Mindanao with 12 provinces; Visayas and Palawan with 17 provinces; Bicol and Southern Luzon with 15 provinces; Metro Manila (NCR) with 13 cities and 4 adjacent municipalities;

such position somehow presents some serious negative reactions especially from anti-federal people which use this argument that some federalists are creating their own “fiefdoms. WE CAN DO IT ONE CHA-CHA. To be honest. etc. 5. 9. These are: 1. 2.” That is why we appeal to these federalists to “sober up” a little and support our “Two Steps” strategy. Central Luzon with 7 provinces. 7. and Cordillera and Northern Luzon with 15 provinces Yes. Education Health Infrastructure and Public Works Agriculture Industry Police State Judicial System Communication and Transportation Custom and Taxation Others The autonomous State will have this local government set-up: Autonomous State Local Government Units as before: . Of course sufficient time must be allocated in this regard. No more of this two Cha-Chas before a federal system is finally adopted. This also shows that if we really desire for a Federal Republic of the Philippines in the earliest time. SoCSarGen (South Cotabato. After 15-20 years. No more of this “grassroots/constituent-initiated transition” as proposed by the controversial Consultative Commission (Con-Com) which is actually a design to delay the adoption of a Federal System in the country. 10.7. 8. This “Two Steps” approach will end once and for all questions about economic viability of some States. How about it guys? The powers appropriately vested in the autonomous State government must be clearly specified in its State Constitution. 4. No undue rush on Cha-Cha thru Con-Con. the same three criteria mentioned earlier will guide said review. 3. Those places I mentioned can later on pursue this matter after we gained more experience and improved the country’s economic standing in implementing the federal system. Of course. No need for another Cha-Cha to do this for Congress or the New Parliament Constitution. We are aware that some smaller areas would like to become – immediately as autonomous States such as Palawan. 8. the Second Step will take place. 6. This means that Congress or the New Parliament will mandatorily review these eight States and see if there will be a need to divide one or more of these States into a maximum 9to avoid gerrymandering) of two. Cebu. Saranggani and General Santos). the criteria of Economic Viability and Contiguousness are initially given more importance.

specific expectations with regard to mutual trust. 2. . one that. Chairperson. 3. This commitment has been enshrined in our advocacy since we converged in 1991 as the broadest and largest grouping of cooperatives. non-government organizations and non-government individuals. people's organizations. has to do with serious principles. While we remain optimistic on the mainstream peace process. we work hard to find ever better ways to utilize and apply federalism to the cause of peace.1. Such relationship can also be gleaned from the national development perspective: between Mindanao and the central government in Manila. Even if the discussion of federalist political culture is relatively not new on the political science agenda. There is a certain justification for this seeming truth in that "federal" is a loaded term. liberty to do that which is mutually agreed upon in the founding compact or its subsequent constitutional modifications. we must expect it also to offer considerable promise for peace-making. Without federal liberty as an accepted principle neither freedom nor responsibility can develop properly. greater people's participation in the peace talks must also take place. more than simply describing arrangements and institutions. Even less expressed is the expectation that federalism has at least one of its major roots in the idea of federal liberty. real attitudes. It is within the context of political parity and economic equity—the twin goals of genuine people's development-.that firmed up our commitment for a federal republic of the Philippines. Provinces / Chartered Cities Component Cities / Municipalities Barangays Links to this post FEDERALISM: New Hope for Mindanao and the Philippines by Federal Philippines | 11:05 AM in | comments (0) By SYLVIA OKINLAY-PARAGUYA. as well as in the 25 provinces in Mindanao. MINCODE WE ARE for a federal form of government. Federalism as a Peace Option Our collective quest for peace is anchored on the results of the talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In a world well advanced in its movement toward federalism as the new paradigm for interstate and intergroup relations. the sense that federalism can only succeed where such political culture exists sufficiently also figures into this equation. binding relationships. As federalists. and between the government and the Revolutionary Proletariat Movement in Mindanao. that is to say. between the government and National Democratic Front. in short. the will to federate. One of the most important developments contributing to the shift in the world political paradigm from a centralized government to federalism has been the demonstrated utility of federal arrangements in peace-making. The interrelatedness of political stability and economic empowerment are clearly manifested as we assist and work with the communities in the six regions.

In the political sphere. But it seems quite clear that without any. albeit grudgingly. sufficiently widespread to allow the many leaps of faith that must be taken to make federalism work. It is true that in some cases when both sides are losing sufficiently. it comes in the form of semiindependent units. In the Philippines: sitio. The Lumad peoples have persistently expressed their own preference for self-determination. The right to decide and choose that is best for one's self is a sacred right that cannot be taken away from any individual and citizen. municipality. having seen that their absorption into the unitary political system has brought about the establishment and solidification of a threat to their very own existence and the integrity of their distinct cultures. Federalism and the Right to Self-Determination Asserting and reclaiming their self-determination is essential among Lumad and Bangsamoro peoples. The Bangsamoro have their own distinct identity and vested interest that must be respected and cannot be satisfied by a continued subscription to political uniformity. it is generally clear by now that where there is a positive attitude toward federalism and a will to build a federal system. the local government units from the regional autonomy to the barangay are able to exercise greater self-determination.One of the ways to overcome the deficiency seems to be by widening the sphere to be encompassed by the solution. and what federal principles are emphasized. This is necessary for federal peace-making to take place. regional autonomy. No matter what form federalism takes. Those deprived of this right are also unable to fulfill their aspirations for the future. Under a federal set up. barangay. The passage of the Local Government Code in 1991 further chips away powers from central authority. province. where all of this leads to a wider understanding of liberty as federal liberty. For example. efforts to bring together two separate units are inevitably problematic not only because it is easy for every issue to turn into a zero-sum game with one side winning and the other losing. Self-determination grows with increased political autonomy or the ability to . With the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. where the political society involved rests on sufficient trust. then federalism has a good chance of succeeding when used for peace-making. making grassroots participation more meaningful and broaden the powers of the citizens over the state. widening the sphere helps them come together to control their losses. It may have almost as good a chance if most of those elements are present and some chance even if one or two of them is. in some cases from the very first. but it also is difficult to transform develop or transform issues into ones in which both sides win. the chances of success are extremely limited. nation. where political culture is either favorable or at least open to federal arrangements. Self-determination comes in many forms. the central government has allowed. greater powers will be devolved to the local citizenry. a departure from the stranglehold of central authority. how federal institutions are designed.

But. The more obvious advantage is greater power-sharing between the national or federal government and the state/local government. Brazil. It is noted that only in a federal structure of government it is possible to “properly and correctly rule such a society in such a manner as to accommodate the distinctiveness of each nationality while orchestrating them all towards the common national goal which comprehends their diversities. Since the states will have their own legislatures. real decision-making is brought closer home to the people. In the political history of the world. Cebuano. and the report seeks to show that they are not related in the way many people assume. in fact. . Diversity and development might seem to sit oddly together. and so on. there is enough to argue that indeed diversity plays an important role in development given the composition of the ethnic groups: 13 ethnolinguistic groups representing the Bangsamoro people. India and Malaysia. and the settlers who are Ilonggo. the United States of America. The UNDP's press release says unambiguously that “there is no evidence that cultural diversity slows development”. Mexico. Boholanon. Austria.” Federalism and Fiscal Management Although there is a need to establish correlation. and in regions such as Mindanao. At our end. Canada. greatest autonomy to political units is experienced by the states of a federal state. and dismisses the idea that there has to be a trade-off between respecting diversity and sustaining peace. with its Moro population of about 4 million and the Lumads numbering about 2 million. Bangsamoro or Christian settlers. Assuming that we are under a federal structure. The not too obvious but significant advantage of federalism is its ability to address the demands of a pluralistic society. This is the immediate consequence of the political re-structuring. we also delight in UNDP's 2004 report because that has been our general advocacy for Mindanao: that we promote respect and understanding among the diverse and unique groups of people whether they are Lumad. while six of the top 12 in gross domestic product were likewise federal. Argentina. 18 ethnolinguistic groupings of the Lumad. In countries like the Philippines. would the economic crisis faced by the nation today be isolated in Manila only? It is definitely possible. It is interesting to note that seven of the top twelve countries in the world in terms of per capita income in 1997 were federal. it has been noted that the most of the politically stable and economically advanced countries in the world follow a federal set-up. while six of the top 12 in gross domestic product were likewise federal. These include Germany. Ilocano. But they are intimately linked. Federalism and Diversity This year's Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme highlights cultural diversity. Australia. greater people participation in the decision-making process is institutionalized.stand on one's own feet. meaning one that has a mixture of populations of diverse cultures and ethnolinguistic identities. the citizens can push further to ensure that in the federal constitution and the state laws. and closer to home. This is nowhere more pronounced than in Mindanao. altogether making about 40% of the total Mindanao population.

it is one system that may be able to effectively address the current and peculiar situation of Mindanao not only as a victim of neglect but also as a unique island-region that harbor three peoples of diverse backgrounds. and social systems. culture. Clearly.R. Challenges of globalization usher in fiscal reforms in developing countries. Admittedly. Undated. The New Hope for Mindanao and the Philippines Indeed the federal system is worth looking into as a more ideal set-up for Mindanao and the Philippines. Higher-level institutional assistance may be needed to finance local capital projects. An internal common market is best preserved by constitutional guarantees. decentralized fiscal systems offer more potential for improved macroeconomic governance than do centralized fiscal systems. Sources: 1. . More specifically. Undated. Tax decentralization is a prerequisite for sub-national access to market credits. A Federal Republic of the Philippines. a federal system is friendlier to this idea than the unitary and centralized system that we have. Suitability of the Federal System in Mindanao. More importantly. Rodil. Periodic review of jurisdictional assignments is essential to realign responsibilities with changing economic and political realities. Fiscal rules accompanied by “gatekeeper” intergovernmental councils or committees provide a useful framework for fiscal discipline and coordination of fiscal policy. because they require greater clarity about the roles of various players and decision-makers and-to ensure fair play-greater transparency in rules governing interactions. it is a political option that may help prevent a stalemate that can lead to another Mindanao war. The integrity and independence of the financial sector contribute to fiscal prudence in the public sector. To ensure fiscal discipline. not assimilation-or at least harmony in diversity. Among federalist countries. 2. MINCODE Development Agenda: A Socio-Cultural and Political Approach to Mindanao Peace and Development. 2003. 3.Decentralized fiscal systems offer more potential for improved macroeconomic governance than do centralized fiscal systems. and contrary to a common misconception. B. what Mindanao needs is unity in diversity—not integration. Rey Magno Teves. customs. Societal norms and consensus about the roles of various levels of government and limits to their authority are vital to the success of decentralized decision-making which can happen only under a federal structure. Intergovernmental transfers in developing countries undermine fiscal discipline and accountability while building transfer dependencies that cause a slow economic strangulation of fiscally disadvantaged regions. the following are noticeable: Monetary policy is best entrusted to an independent central bank with a mandate for price stability. traditions. government at all levels must be made to face the financial consequences of their decisions. Finally.

Intersect. A well-grounded model country that dashed for economic growth is Malaysia. Links to this post THE GAINS OF BUSINESS IN A FEDERAL SYSTEM by Federal Philippines | 5:23 PM in business. the MBC and the local chambers of commerce together with Kusog Mindanaw as the lead non-government organization. Sr. it is high time that we should be sensible of our country’s malady. Rey Magno Teves. national and/or international market. presented the Mindanao Action Agenda to Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the 13th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon). commit to pursue local empowerment under a federal set-up through the establishment of the multisectoral Mindanao Coalition of Cities for Transparent and Accountable Governance. Thus. administrative capacity and social needs. federalism. Impasse Breaker: An Islamic State Within a Federal Philippines? Intersect. and. Investments and Federalism In the first place. One of the private sector commitments under the Mindanao Action Agenda is the shift to a federal form of government. businessmen will have a more conducive and competitive business environment and investors will be able to make investment decisions over the longer-term. the new system should give due consideration to sustainable and equitable socio-economic development through the promotion of inter-state and intra-regional cooperation.4. diversification of its export markets. this means an increased concentration on local industries. To help achieve this goal. the President of the Philippines called for the expediency to amend the 1987 Constitution. diversified quality products and greater trade benefits from regional policies. we have collectively committed to the quest for the private sector’s important role in the pursuit for just. We in the Mindanao business community think that no other alternative is more compelling. undertake the necessity of some speedy and powerful remedy. September 1999. and . therefore. do not allow for simple solutions. policies on trade and investment will be re-evaluated and planned according to the region’s capacity to produce as well as the demand in the local. In the eyes of our President. Just recently. the pro-active Mindanao business community. equitable. The success of the Malaysian Government is partly because of diversification of its manufacturing base. Consequently. philippines | comments (0) by Antonio R. mindanao. through the Mindanao Business Council (MBC). And so it is important thresh out the issues affecting regional development in the context of the proposed reform to a federal state. It can be recalled that on September 2004. There is certainly a great economic force behind this advocacy. Santos. For the business sector. and lasting peace in the island. per capita income. Regional disparities with respect to population size. As an expression of support to the present administration.

which cannot be exceeded without the end proposed—that is. which is in the heart of the tin mining region and close to the rice bowl sections of West Malaysia. is served by trading firms specializing in mining and rice farming equipment and supplies. In particular. as Hamilton puts it. developing better privileges to local contractors for infrastructure projects. the decentralized decision making structure provides greater proximity to the people and forces the governments to be more responsive to its citizens' (the business sector’s) preferences.g. Through direct involvement and community action. Businesses specializing in mining and rice farming equipment and supplies and trading centers having countryside marketing facilities are also a significant source of revenue for the locality. it can be said there are both advantages and disadvantages of federalism. e. This induces the positive force of taxes that matches local situations.” Following the politico-economic by Brennan and Buchanan (Brennan. Simplified Bureaucracy Lastly. a federal system in relation to taxation translates to savings for investment. Also. which drives economic growth and prosperity. Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism Twenty four of the world's one hundred ninety three countries have a federal political set up. a direct impact of a strong link between the government and the business sector opens broad spectrum of business support services in an effort to achieve a consolidated approach when representing the viewpoint of private enterprise in its relations with the government. a federal form of government results in greater autonomy to revise taxation policies. a federal system would devise and take into consideration the fairer calculation of rates beneficial to all parties involved within the region. Journal of Public Economics 8: 255-273) federalism leads to lower tax burden. The right of the federal government to levy taxes shall. This would allow the development of small businesses to be competitive with large businesses in any industry. we see rapid development and the proliferation of our interests. Taxation and Federalism In the second place. Read the following article for an in depth analysis of a federation. Geoffrey And James M. ……. review of rates is faster and more reflective of the cost of services that a particular region provides. Looking at these countries' political history. And even though tax rates in general are linked to a broader political process. With these advantages it can hardly be supposed that the adverse position would have an equal chance for a favorable issue. Since local governments are semi-autonomous entities within the state framework.strengthening of its industrial capabilities. Buchanan (1977): Towards a Tax Constitution for Leviathan. There would be more access to local resources. . “contain in their own nature a security against excess. Economic development is achieved through inter-sectoral dialogue and equitable distribution of wealth that render significant improvements in local infrastructure. an extension of the revenue. Ipoh. Practically. They prescribe their own limit. The mobile factors that are capital and labor render a mobile tax base in the federal states.

While formulating policies. Iowa. a large number of schools provide bilingual education. Hawaii is a problem that can be best solved by the local government. Australia and Canada but also in developing countries like Mexico. so that they are in a better position to understand these problems and offer unique solutions for them. Contemplating a change in the governing set up of the nation. some countries like Sri Lanka and Philippines are intently scrutinizing the advantages and disadvantages of Federalism. Provincial government representatives live in proximity to the people and are most of the time from the same community. provide for public health. etc. . local needs. For example.Federalism is a political system in which the powers are divided between the central government and numerous regional governments. rather than by somebody living in New York. Federalism offers representation to different populations. There is a written constitution which formulates this power sharing arrangement between the state and its units. ethnicity and follow different cultures. Citizens of various provinces may have different aspirations. conduct elections and form local governments. For example in the USA. India and Brazil. These units referred to as the provincial or regional governments have the power to act independently in certain areas of governance. This is where the regional government steps in. State governments have the freedom to adopt policies which may not be followed nationally or by any other state. For example. same-sex marriages are not recognized by the federal government of USA but they are given legal status within the states of Connecticut. social and economic problems peculiar to the region itself. The central government can sometimes overlook these differences and adopt policies which cater to the majority. traffic congestion in Oahu. keeping local factors in mind. the local governments have exclusive powers to issue licenses. Federalism in Today's World At present. tastes and opinions are given due consideration by the state governments. look after the intrastate trade. For example. Federalism is being followed not only in first world countries like USA. Rights of the minorities are protected too. in states like Arizona where there is a large Hispanic population and therefore. Advantages of Federalism Every province has political.

This resulted in the loss of many lives. Federalism promotes regional inequalities. pollution from a province which is promoting industrialization in a big way can affect another region which depends solely on agriculture and cause crop damage. Thus. Federal system of government is very expensive as more people are elected to office. Hence earnings and wealth are unevenly distributed. The reason for this may be that during policy framing. Democracy and liberalism. both at the state and the center. . the gap between rich and poor states widens. like blacks. Federalism does not eliminate poverty. Federalism can make the state governments selfish and concerned only about their own region's progress. The central government can concentrate more on international affairs and defense of the country while the provincial government can cater to the local needs. it is often said that only rich countries can afford it. Federalism has room for innovation and experimentation. Rich states offer more opportunities and benefits to its citizens than poor states can. Thus. For example. USA. are compromised in USA. when typhoon Katrina hit Greater New Orleans. For federalism to be truly successful it should be accompanied by other ideals like Secularism. there was delay in the rescue work as there was confusion between the state governments and the federal government on who is responsible for which disaster management work. Two local governments can have two different approaches to bring reforms in any area of public domain. For example. there have been advantages and disadvantages of federalism in other countries as well. Similarly. policies might not yield good results. industries. Too many elected representatives with overlapping roles may also lead to corruption. be it taxation or education. Both scenarios pose a threat to the countries' integrity. than necessary. there are poor neighborhoods like Harlem with a majority of black population. The comparison of the results of these policies can give a clear idea of which policy is better and thus. USA now has a democratically elected AfricanAmerican President. can be adopted in the future. Natural resources.Vermont and Massachusetts. There can be a rebellion by a regional government against the national government too. Federalism no doubt has many positives vis-a-vis Communism or Imperialism but still some political scientists often raise questions about advantages of Federalism. There is a general feeling that the rights of the minorities. Sometimes there can be overlapping of work and subsequent confusion regarding who is responsible for what. They can formulate policies which might be detrimental to other regions. Division of work between the central and the regional governments leads to optimum utilization of resources. But at the same time. in 2005. it is the intellectuals and not the masses who are invited by the local government. employment opportunities differ from region to region. Thus. Federalism leads to unnecessary competition between different regions. Disadvantages of Federalism Sharing of power between the Center and the states includes both advantages and disadvantages of federation. it is understandable that there have been both advantages and disadvantages of Federalism in USA. Even in New York. These intellectuals may not understand the local needs properly and thus.