What the F?
HOTSPOT - Mocha Uson (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2018 - 12:00am

Erratum: After the publication of my article “Manila is not the Philippines” in this paper on July 24, 2018, my attention was called to the statement “as we are the only nation in Southeast Asia that is under a unitary form of government.” Re-checking my sources, I agree that the statement is erroneous, and I apologize to all readers for the same.

On Friday, August 3, I have finally met up with the key persons who are pushing for the transition to federalism, including Ding Generoso, spokesperson of the consultative committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution. It was during this meeting where we learned about federalism in a nutshell, including the core messages that need to be conveyed to the Filipino public. I am grateful for having been tapped to help spread awareness about federalism, and I believe that moving forward to a federal system of government guarantees benefits that the common Filipino will feel, appreciate, and value.

Capitalizing on the Filipino diversity

Our country is known to be divided in many ways; we celebrate different cultures and traditions based on our geographic location, and in these places we speak different languages. And while these give color to our history and wellbeing as Filipinos, they are also the same elements that divide us as a nation. Federalism aims to provide us the opportunity to utilize our strengths and capacities on a regional scale by means of decentralization, wherein powers of authority are no longer held by the national government alone, but are given to regions or local governments for them to use. Hence, basic government services can be provided without having to be decided upon by the national government for us to enjoy.

Federalism is also deemed to be a possible solution for the Mindanao conflict, as through the establishment of regional governments, Muslim Filipinos get to celebrate their identities and freedoms, and more importantly enjoy a sense of belonging while at the same time refer to themselves as Filipinos.

Also through a federal system, the country’s regions remain united as one through a central government, which in turn takes charge of matters of national concern, including law and order, social security, international trade, and foreign affairs.

Bringing the government closer to the people

Transparency and accountability of the government and its officials continue to be questionable in our country. Federalism addresses these through structural reforms in the political system, including introducing the program of political parties and ditching personality politics, establishing proportional representation, and imposing limitations on political dynasties.

Why is federalism pushing for these reforms? Simple: it wants to bring the government closer to the people. It is about time that Filipinos see firsthand that the government is working to provide for their needs, and that its officials are not there to sit on the thrones of power.

All for the Filipino family

Our current Constitution recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Through federalism, I believe that this recognition will be further amplified as its principles aim in keeping the family together through faster and more efficient delivery of government services, and focusing on regional and local investments that open opportunities for more business and employment, making it unnecessary for families to move and live apart in order just to address their socio-economic needs.

What a big word

Federalism is a such a big word, and there’s no denying that its features have overwhelmed me at first glance. However, I strongly believe that moving toward a federal government is worth the time and effort, as it provides pragmatic solutions that directly address our country’s lingering problems and needs. Why do we have to continue dealing with a form of government that has, in many ways, failed in uplifting our welfare and spirit when we have the power to change the current system to one that is more effective and efficient?

But we are facing a bigger challenge that needs to be overcome in order to enjoy the perks of federalism, and that is convincing the public to vote for it. The word itself has caused apprehensions among different peoples due to various reasons, such as being too deep a topic for discussion, lack of adequate knowledge among different audiences, and most importantly, the hesitation for real, actual change.

We should not be held back by our apprehensions; rather, we must take the time to sit down and discuss how federalism can affect our lives for the better, as individuals, as families, and as a nation.

And to the youth, it is high time to make use of your hunger and rage to achieve change for this country. The shift toward federalism is not a mere transition to something new; it is the pathway to progress for your generation to savor to the fullest.

1987 CONSTITUTION CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE FEDERALISM
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