The discussion on federalism returns from the back seat as the committees in both Senate and Congress undergo a major reset in leadership, favoring pro-administration politicians
Last July 2018, the Consultative Committee appointed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution suggested federalism to be the new form of government in the country. While, the Department of Interior and Legal Government revealed that the fight on federalism is not yet over for them. Under the proposed federal government, powers including executive and legislative sovereignties will be distributed to all 18 proposed region-states.
It is also said that the shift would enable the regions to oversee regional progress and open developments in the subnational level. Local governments will have the privilege to administer developmental projects, laws and the local budget. On this kind of government, the current administration believes that this would address disparity particularly on the distribution of budget, corruption, multicultural barriers, and other perennial concerns.
However rushing its implementation will hinder economic progress. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia warned the administration of the consequences of rushed charter change into infrastructure developments and country’s current and future fiscal situation. Expenses will cause a downgrade in the Philippine economy with an estimated 6% deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio expected on the first phase of implementation of the proposed federal government. Current regional infrastructure improvements will be put into halt or be disrupted derailing the “Build,Build,Build” program. Filipino economists also cautioned the possibility of hyperinflation should the country approve the draft constitution.
Further assessments and amendments have to be made to fully capacitate the proposed form of government in addressing inadequacy in many aspects. Likewise, future governors and state senators must be completely knowledgeable on proper allocation of budget to avoid exploitation of resources. It is of paramount importance that the well-dressed crocodiles in the government will be, if possible, eliminated before the full blast of this new constitution. Moreover, the administration should heed to the Filipino people. In a latest Pulse Asia Survey, 62% of Filipinos believe that shifting to federalism now is not a good idea. The government must consider the preparedness of its constituents for this shift. We need to be sure that this “change” will not worsen mishaps of the current unitary government. The people must be assured that we are into a complete metamorphosis, not a succession of ill practices. That rather the Filipinos will have to bear the weight of new burdens, they will be waking up, in a new constitution…of a widen Philippines. There is no need for an immediate implementation if the provinces aren’t ready for it. We need a stronger government, and if federalism is to tighten the loose screws of our government; we have to do it slowly, but surely.