Watch: Why Duterte Thinks Federalism is Good for the Philippines, and Why It Might Not (Video)

So far, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte is the only presidential candidate pushing federalism as the better form of government in the Philippines. In fact, it is one of his aces aside from ending crimes and corruption. But sad to say, only a few Filipinos really know how federalism works. The video below will help us understand it.

What is federalism?

In simple terms, federalism is a form of government where the control of each region will be made by the regional government. In our current form of government, which is called unitary government, the entire country is being controlled by the central government. In federalism, each state government controls its own state or region.

As we all know, all the major administrations of the government are located in Metro Manila. Therefore, there is no decision-making for the officials in Visayas and Mindanao. This means that there is no sharing of power among the regions. There are also common laws being applied to all regions, regardless of culture and religion.

In a unitary government, all the funds made by the regions are collected by the national government, which will then distribute the budget back to the regions according to what the national government has set. In federalism, each region can keep most of their funds and the regional officials have the control of their own budget.

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Pros and Cons of Federalism in the Philippines:

Why Mayor Rody Duterte thinks that federalism is good for the Philippines?

1.0 The budget being allotted for the provinces in Mindanao is not enough. In federalism, corruption in the national government will be less if not eliminated.

2.0Duterte said this is better because the national government does not really know well about the needs of each region. In federalism, there will be a customized solution.

3.0 Local government officials can implement laws, based on the culture of their region. They will be obliged to focus on the projects they think are best for their constituents.

4.0 Metro Manila will be decongested, simply because businesses and offices will also be established in every region. In short, it may also help solve the worsening traffic.

5.0 It may address the concerns of the people in Mindanao who have been fighting for autonomy for many decades now.

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Why federalism might not work well in the Philippines?

For the record, federalism is not heaven as many people might think it is . Although Duterte strongly believes that it is better for the Philippines, here are some reasons why it might not work once it will be implemented. Here’s why:

1.0 It might create conflict among the regions because there will be competition, and some of the regions might not be as successful as the others.

2.0 Regions with poor leadership will suffer, especially if that region has no enough resources of income. In such cases, the national government might not be able to help quickly.

3.0 There might be an overlapping of jurisdiction. Remember when then-DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez clash during the Typhoon Yolanda relief effort?

4.0 It might also escalate the problem of political dynasty. We all know that many regions are currently being run by a single surname in their areas.

5.0 Changing to federal form of government needs a huge budget for establishing state governments, and our current economy might not yet be fit to it.

6.0 Federalism might not be the solution to the crisis in Mindanao, after all. Some separatist groups want the region to be a separate country from the Philippines.

Ano ang federalismo? (What is federalism?)


Back in 2008, then-Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel Jr filed a joint resolution to establish a federal system of government. He proposed 11 states of the Philippines, plus the Metro Manila region. On the same year, Rep. Monico O. Puentevella filed House Concurrent Resolution No. 15, supporting Pimentel’s proposal. Obviously, both of them failed.

Federalism in the Philippines is not something that will happen overnight. It needs to be studied carefully, and a lot of factors should be considered first. In fact, even if Duterte will be elected president and he will push it, we think that it is still very unlikely to happen in his six-year term. But if his successor will also push it, it may, probably.