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Walk the Talk

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The Filipino people witnessed the inauguration of Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines last June 30. Winning the elections by landslide, Duterte’s win is a legal and a legit success.

With Duterte in Malacañang, the event of a shift to a federal style of government is not impossible. The masses praised and admired him during the campaign period, raising their fists as a sign that they want change.

Federalism is a form of government where power is shared between the national federal government and the local state government. According to Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr.’s federal government structure proposal, the country will be divided into 11 autonomous states plus the Federal Administrative Region of Metro Manila. But, there lies another question: Is the Philippines ready for federalism?

In the current unitary government, the central government will collect all revenues and funds generated by each state. In return, the budget is distributed back to the regions. In the 2016 national budget for regions, Metro Manila and Luzon received
14.27 percent (Php 428.5B) and 20.94 percent (Php 628.3B) respectively. Visayas only received 9.94 percent (Php 298.3B), and 13.23 percent (Php 396.9B) for Mindanao.

Through fiscal autonomy in federalism, it will evenly distribute the country’s wealth. The national federal government will only get 20 percent of the state’s revenues. From the remaining 80 percent, the state government will receive 30 percent, and 70 percent for the provinces, cities, barangays, and municipalities. With this structure, the locals can decide what laws and policies they want to enact. It will bring the government closer to the people, and also a possible solution for the Mindanao conflict.

Each state can focus on economic development and specialization, making the national government focus on national defense, foreign relations, healthcare, and taxation. It could also decongest and reduce dependence to Metro Manila, making each state work independently.

But, federalism will not happen overnight. First, the constitution needs to be changed, and it will take time. Moreover, There can be an uneven improvement in the states. Some states may not be abundant in manpower or natural resources. The responsibilities of the state and national government are questionable. For example, in times of disaster like typhoons and earthquakes, how much help can the national government provide?

the Weekly Sillimanian believes that there is no perfect form of government. There are always pros and cons. However, tWS is hoping that this is not another tactic of Duterte to capture the masses. “Change has come,” as they say. But before everything, he should walk the talk.

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