In defense of highly decentralized government

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We agree with Archbishop Cruz and the other maverick bishops. We must change our government now, the part that is the root of all our misery. We also agree with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Any change must be done within the framework of the 1987 Constitution. We would like to add: it must be revolutionary yet peaceful. Is all this possible? Yes! Let us discuss how.

First, let us answer a question. Why is corruption and hunger so prevalent in our country? The culprit is accurately identified by federalists: too much concentration of power and wealth in Imperial Manila. They say it must be dispersed. They say that local people must be allowed to plan and work for their own development. They can only do this if more power and wealth are within their control. Well said, but, there’s only one problem. Federalists insist that this can only be done through federalism and charter change. This is not true. The present Charter does not limit the Senate’s and Congress’ power to devolve power and wealth. Only our lawmakers do.

How does our present set-up foster corruption and hunger? Let us take the case of agriculture. In 1971, Congress devolved the personnel and functions of agriculture to the LGU’s, but not the support funds. So, trained technicians who had to rely on the inclinations of the governors and mayors for their operations. Some technicians were lucky enough to land in LGU’s with receptive officials and ample funds. They were able to do some progress. In municipalities and provinces that could not provide maintenance, operating and operational expenses both services and personnel had to suffer. So do the farmers. So does the country.

On the other hand, the DA itself became bloated with more funds than it can judiciously handle. And so we have the swine and fertilizer scams. LGU’s are forced to accept with gratitude irrigation, dryers and farm to market roads, even when obviously overpriced. What else could they do? How else did the term Imperial Manila came about? Federalists are quick to point out that, this being so, we must adopt federalism. They conveniently overlook the fact that a simple legislative flaw can be remedied by a simple legislative measure. The problem is that both houses of Congress have always been reluctant to give up power. Yet they promise to give it through a cha-cha! It is against this insanity that we must rebel against.

Those who may want to take issue with me on federalism  or  on how  the revolution must be carried out are 24/7 welcome at

By: TaxJ

Ninoy Aquino begat hope and courage. Hope and courage begat EDSA 1. EDSA 1 begat Cory, FVR, ERAP and EDSA 2. EDSA 2 begat Gloria. Gloria begat unprecedented corruption and poverty, then a MOA that led to war: Filipinos against Filipinos. The combination of these events begat the loss of Ninoy’s legacy.

The absence of his legacy begat poverty in mind and spirit as well. We dare not move against Gloria because of fear, not for life and limb, but for the uncertain scenario of an early PGMA exit. Even 2010 is viewed with much skepticism. Embedded in our hearts are the lessons of experience: no change in leadership ever brought any relief.

Senator Nene Pimentel correctly diagnosed the problem: too much wealth and power in the Presidency or Imperial Manila. Unfortunately the prescription he gave is seriously flawed. Federalism won’t solve the problem. It will only aggravate it. He is just complicating a simple solution: decentralization through legislation. This is allowed by the present Constitution.

Clip the powers of the presidency; distribute it to the local government units. This is the good Senator’s forte. He must have overlooked it in his haste to post another date in history: from the father of local autonomy to the champion of federalism! Unfortunately, it promises to be his undoing. Cha-cha is dead for now. And even if it reaches a plebiscite, a provision adding more people to the unpopular bodies would spell its doom. People would rather vote for the abolition of one of the two Chambers, or both!

Fortunately, it is not too late for Mr. Local Autonomy to be true to his calling. Instead of gunning for federalism he may rally the local government officials to persuade Congress to approve a legislation that incorporates his 20/80 formula in an invigorated Local Government Code. Who knows that, under intense pressure, its members might even come to their senses, get real and go for impeachment instead?

(Original post here)

Which is better: A Federal System or a Unitary System with a highly decentralized structure?

This question propped-up in line with the renewed moves to federalize the Philippines especially with Sen. Nene Pimentel’s passage of Resolution No. 10 asking the Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) and amend the Constitution in favor of a federalist set-up.

While I am not yet certain as to the manner of amending the Constitution by means of ConAss, I am already sure of my advocacy — Federalism. As to why, this will be shown in the succeeding articles in this blog.

To balance the scales, our friend, Tax-J, will also argue that the federalist set-up is not necessary. What we need is a highly decentralized system giving full autonomy to the local government units. His arguments will also be posted in this blog.

The objectives why we put-up this blog are:

  1. To argue our respective ideas intelligently. No one has the monopoly of truth, it should be stressed, so it could be that my idea or Tax-J’s idea is wanting in some respects, or superior in some respects. The flaws or superiority of the idea of either of us can hopefully be perfected in the future as we all help carve the path the Philippines had to take.
  2. To forward our advocacy and enjoin you, our readers, to formulate your own stand or contribute to the polishing of our ideas. It could be that we overlooked something or that we focused only on one aspect without knowing that there are also other sides of the story. I remember one of my professors, Carlos Gegantoca, said: There are always three sides in a story — your side, my side and the correct side.
  3. To help proponents and advocates either of federalism and decentralization under a unitary system in coming up with strong arguments as well as provide action points in pushing for their respective advocacies.

Our discussion was started days ago and most of these were e-mails. For a start, we’ll publish these e-mails for the reference of all of us. From time to time, we will also be publishing or cross-posting articles in the web regarding federalism and decentralization.

Welcome to our blog and enjoy reading!