The desire to have the freedom to choose, the freedom to be your own master is a universal nature. It is understandable that the yearning for self-determination is so strong for people who have suffered discrimination.
When the people are oppressed, when the land are exploited, those who are left behind naturally would demand for an equitable distribution of their rightful share. The people’s yearning for progress and development will never ceased specially when they feel that their supposed protector-the government- are found most often bending to serve the interest of the few. When the government can not be found to protect its people, we can’t blame the people if they would protect themselves.
The unitary government that we have today failed to improve the lives of so many Filipinos. One of every four Filipinos or 26% of the population are still mired in poverty. And this has been the case for so long. It is easy to surmise, our unitary government failed to deliver the goods. It is no longer the choice, it is also no longer the alternative.
There are sectors in this country who have suffered neglect for so long. Can we blame them if they seek to correct this injustice? Should we blame them if they no longer trust? And that they would rather find their own solution according the dictates of their culture and tradition?
On the contrary, for so long, those who are in power showed contemptuous attitude towards this desire for self-determination. When the Regions (the people through their leaders) clamored for more equitable share of the nations revenue, many who felt so comfortable under the protective armpit of this unitary system said no.
Now that Federalism is given a fair shot, there are those who would object to the proposition. To be fair though, some of their observations are valid. One most common issue against Federalism is hurled against local leaders, who many are wont to be dynastic. If we shift to a Federal system, these local political dynasties will be in power forever enslaving the people till time immemorial.
We can however institutionalized the vetting process for our leaders. We can have a strong party system where the leaders can contest among themselves and where the best leader may be given a chance to lead. During the writing of the State Constitution, an anti dynasty law can be clearly stated. Ex. A leader will be allowed one term of four years and one reelection only. No relatives up to 2nd degree of consanguinity will be allowed to run in the next eight years.
Another issue against Federalism is on revenue. It is a fact that many poor LGU’s are IRA dependent. Where would they get their revenue to finance the needs of the government? ARMM for example have few industry to speak of, the people are poor, their are no big taxpayers, corporate or private. So where will they get the financing?
These are birth pains that needs not be ignored. Of course there are donor agencies. The richer regions can also help. Ex. For the next ten or fifteen years, 10% of the richer regions revenues will be earmarked for the poorer region. This approach will give the disadvantage regions a sort of a starting capital.
There are many ways to solve the initial problems. But what other alternative do we have? With the recent Brexit decision we have seen, some people advises the proponents not to rush. So under the present set up, what alternative do we have? If too much centralization of power is the root of all corruption, then devolution of power could be the answer. The national government can retain responsibilities of national concerns. Ex: Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Education, etc. Taxation should be devolved to the local governments, and they will remit the equitable portion to the national government. The percentage will be determined proportionately to the amount necessary to run the affairs of the national government. This way the power of the purse now shifts to the Region.
This way we will retain the unitary system with less power concentrated within the center.The regions will also be given ample time and opportunity to prepare for the eventual shift to a Federal system.