It has been said that “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” But this is actually not the case in a way as far as the application of the Federal form of government in this country is concerned. In the 80s, we were almost there. Remember when we had a legislatorial form of government then? The National Assembly thing? Almost parliamentary. When our government was managed by a Prime Minister in the person of Cesar Virata and heads of government agencies were called Ministries? The Parliamentary form of government we had did not however result in “Federalism” but it led to “Regionalization.” The country woke up from its usual provincial partition to a regional one. It was almost the same in principle. In a Federal system, the country’s regional divide will become a State.
But it did not last long. There were contradictions everywhere from politicians to captains of industry. The “haves” were directing the way society should be governed while the “have nots” were the silent majority. There was little progress to claim. The middle class never expanded. Worst, there was even a multiplication of the poor.
Something must have to be done. In 1972, President Marcos tried Martial Law and in the 80s a semblance of Parliamentary. It led nowhere until it was challenged by a revolutionary government led by Cory Aquino. There was stability under Ramos but term limits deferred progress. Estrada came and was ousted. Macapagal took over and made strides only to be retrenched by the succeeding Aquino presidency. Then Duterte took over the reins and early on, the difference could be felt. He wanted federalism to trouble shoot a troubled economy.
To think about it, a good leader indeed can promote a strong federated nation. Each federal State could flex its muscle, manage its resources and push itself towards contributing to the prosperity of the union. The drawback however is that if we have a poor leader later, the member federal States would just declare their respective independence and move away from the Union. And poor Federal Philippines, it would suffer from dissection and separatism. There was a time in the past when a certain Canoy from Mindanao tried to advocate the separation of the province from the Philippines to create its own independent country. Their group was even displaying another form of currency in the event they succeed in their movement. It was of course nipped in the bud by their own kind but it was one nightmare which might visit a federated profile.
If we have the current leadership on top, it would be an ideal situation. The profile and leadership style of President Duterte fits the bill. He has the political will and he can virtually promote rectitude and trustworthiness in public service. The national leadership can eventually summon the winds of change through its righteousness and commitment. It can dictate the discipline needed and endow without constraint the needed ingredients to bring about a flourishing society. Therefore, the salvation of the country is at hand through Federalism
Like in successful countries where Federalism is applied (Singapore, Malaysia, Canada,Germany, Indonesia…) , all it takes is a good leader. It was leadership that was written in the score card of winning countries. If we too have a good leader, my God! We will prosper in no time. Fortune will be posted in every corner of our God forsaken economy and the people will not only reap the fruit of peace and order but would savor the great flavor of affluence. In a just a few years, we will become another wonder nation with a tiger economy. And why not, the form of government accommodates the ideas of a good leadership, collective discipline and wholesome governance.
In short, advancement comes through the progressive vision of the leader. But it must be noted that there should be a good space where the leader could express his vision and policy. In a crowded partisan political environment, the leader could drown from too much compromises and limitations. Not in a parliamentary form much more so in a Federal system. The Federal environment can spawn economic development for each State under the watchful eye of the national leadership.
In the usual and traditional set up, the country has not progressed since. There is too much corruption and vices, too much incompetence and irregularity, too much crime, too many challenges in peace and order.It is high time that a radical shift is not only necessary but mandatory social move if only for this country to emerge not only as a candidate for development but to become developed and matured once and for all.
In the words of former Senate President Nene Pimentel, “Under Federalism we speed up development.”