Federalization is going to happen. The proposal helped President Duterte get to Malacañang, but it should not happen that quickly, as if it were as simple as the nation changing its clothes.
According to the proposal, the Philippines should take a leaf from many developed countries like the United States, Malaysia and Germany: The powers of the state are not focused on the capital city only but are equally shared so that other cities and rural areas are given the chance to modernize, thus triggering economic growth for all.
It is true that a devolved government will spread wealth not only for the sake of the state but also for the sake of more transparency. A big and unitary government, like the present, is hard to oversee, audit and check, so federalization will divide that wealth and it will be easier to check for any corrupt practices. Sensible, indeed.
Other countries used federalization to bind their political entities. But not in this case, because it will be used to divide the nation. Thus, a sudden shift to federalism will be much harsher and more difficult because it is aimed at quickly empowering local government units without even considering their readiness for it.
In fact, federalization will not really solve the “unequal distribution of wealth.” The current system provides that a wealthy city may share its extra tax collection with poorer areas, but in the Duterte-style federalist nation, the money will remain in their state without considering their required budget for a fiscal year, which will cause more inequality and may retard a state’s economic growth.
Federalization will be good, but it should be done slowly. And the present structure should first be fixed because it will produce several carbon-copies of Manila-style governance, which will definitely be hard to run, causing more expenses for the central government and, ultimately, for taxpayers.
The Philippines is not a lab rat, and a number of problems should first be resolved before it ventures into this unknown and probably problematic new form of governance.
Daniel Sebastianne B. Daiz, 15, is in Grade 10-STE-A at Basud National High School.
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