Thoughts about RBH 15

Federalism is a topic in my comprehensive exam for master in public administration before. We were asked what we think of federalism and if we are in favour. My answer was, “it depends” on which provisions of the different versions are we taking in.

Our current government is based on the model that was established by the US which already made its own shifts, such as having a president and vice-president from the same party, which I think is a better setup. I also like the merit-based system of the federalism but I don’t think it should be limited to the level of education. I think you can have a congressman in Eastern Samar (mainly agricultural industries) with no college degree but has 25 years of agricultural management experience, but not a senator who has a college degree and only worked as an assistant of her politician father. WE NEED A JOB-SKILLS MATCH HERE.

I do believe in the idea of decentralisation and that our local governments are in the best position to execute the best plan for their area and their constituents. Unfortunately, the social, political, and economic environment in these regions are not at the same level and some politicians have been abusive of their power. Some steering from the national government body needs to happen to make sure that equity, monitoring, and regulation of power is observed. I don’t think it’s a secret that some local governments use their power to favour their allies and eradicate the opponents. WE NEED STRONG INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE A CENTRALISED AND INDEPENDENT CHARACTER SO IT WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO BULLYING BY LOCAL POWERS.

I also think that we have a lot of oligarchs and dynasties that control the local governments so some form of regulation should be done by virtue of having an anti-dynasty policy (and even anti-epal bill) in the proposed version of the federalism draft. I’m sure my public administration classmates (mostly politicians too) will hate me for saying this but PHILIPPINES IS NOT AN EQUAL COUNTRY AND BY VIRTUE OF KEEPING THE PLAYING FIELD AT STATUS QUO, OTHERS WHO HAVE LESS POWER BUT WITH THE SAME PASSION AND COMPETENCY, WILL HAVE LOWER CHANCE OF GETTING A POSITION BECAUSE YOU DID NOT START THE BATTLE AT THE SAME LINE. WHAT WE NEED IS A JUST SYSTEM. GIVE OTHERS A CHANCE. IF YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AND POWERFUL, THEN TRY TO BUILD A MORE COOPERATIVE ENVIRONMENT.

The RBH 15 removes key provisions I am hoping they would keep – the Anti-Dynasty Bill. They also removed the limit for two-term and three term limit for senators and party-list/district representatives. They also removed the line limiting the participation of foreign investors in governing body entities.

If we really want change to happen, I think we have to step back, go to the ground, and bring the people in the conversation. As Acemoglu and Robinsons stated in their book, “Why Nations Fail?”, some countries fail and succeed because of their differences in the following: (1) being able to give power to the people through voice, decisions, and position, (2) making sure that resources are shared to the people rather than benefiting only a few, and (3) creating that supportive space where people can innovate and explore. If shifting to federalism will not help make that happen, to whom and what is it really for?

House approves draft federal constitution:


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