Whether federalism is good for the country or not or whether federal system is the best form of government that suits the nature, culture and temperament of Filipinos, there is no more doubt in the minds of the people that we are seeing and experiencing the last of our presidential system of government as we try to replace it with another.
With President Rodrigo Duterte spearheading the change and supported by able stalwarts in both Houses of Congress, gears are now being shifted to fast track the political machinery towards the direction they all want to go.
I have already expressed my stand on this a long time ago in some of my blogs, saying, that the problem we had been having all these years is not because of the infirmity of the presidential form of government but because of our unfortunate luck of having elected individuals who lack the moral discipline to be called a leader or commander-in-chief in the truest sense of the word.
But with Duterte, it is different!
One can see in him his innate sincerity and his protective concern for the country and the Filipino people and Duterte’s unconventional and unorthodox ways is what makes him identify with the people and what endears him to Filipinos so much so that trust has been easily and readily established.
Duterte is one of us, working with us and for us, and understand our aspirations and dreams after having been mired in a muck of corruption, criminality and drug problems that never got to be solved by successions of political leaders because of their inadequacies, lack of political will and fear of losing their political clout.
Now we have Duterte who is beholden to nobody but the Filipino people and is exactly doing the fight he promised to wage if elected, which is laudable as it is heartening and giving us much hope for a brighter future, so what more are we asking for?
This is why I believe that the presidential form of government still will work out well for the country and the Filipinos if Duterte is the president, but unfortunately the die is cast for federalism.
The road to federalism, however, is not that favorable and encouraging. One only has to listen to an old guard and a long-time advocate of federalism, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, who said that shifting to federal system will not guarantee that all of the country’s problems — whether economic, political or otherwise — would be resolved.
“Federalism is not the panacea for all the ills of this country,” said Pimentel during a forum entitled “Federalism: Will it breed new leaders or masters?” in Quezon City.
The significant contention in the shift to federalism is that we want to see the federal states and their leaders having the power and control over the income of their respective local government units (LGUs).
Note that in the presidential form of government, LGUs remit 100% of their incomes to the national government, whereas in the federal system a greater portion of the income stays with them for their own specific benefits.
Sounds good indeed, but I don’t think this a Eureka moment already for Filipinos.
What concerns me now is that federalism might become the vehicle where political dynasty will flourish and be more entrenched because of their wealth and corrupt ways. As much as we want to abolish political dynasties as servants of the people, federalism might be creating breeding grounds for their elk to thrive and amass more wealth.
This may be a false apprehension or trepidation for now while Duterte is involved in governance.
But what if his term comes to an end?
If only Duterte can be cloned fast and this early – head, guts, balls, temperament and not necessarily his appearance – how reassuring the future of this country can be!