Imperial Manila becomes the Evil Empire
Proponents of federalization have repeatedly said their goal is to end the domination of Imperial Manila in our unitary system of government. Federalization will indeed eliminate Imperial Manila, but it will be replaced by the Evil Empire.
History has shown that when a federation is formed with states of disparate sizes, the wealthiest state dominates. An extreme example was Prussia, which had two-thirds of the territory of the old German Confederation, so whatever Prussia wanted, it got. The Allies dismantled Prussia at the end of World War II to prevent this dominance. In Canada, the Ontario-Quebec partnership has dictated the policies of the Canadian Confederation since its inception in 1867. The Soviet Union was dismantled in 1991 by its three most advanced republics—Ukraine, Byelorussia and Russia.
Nevertheless, the proponents of federalization will do just that: Create a federation with big disparities in wealth among the member-states. A partnership between the National Capital Region and Calabarzon will clone the Ontario-Quebec partnership that has resulted in a weak Canadian central government. Just the NCR alone, with its output estimated at more than 50 percent of our gross domestic product, can transform itself from Imperial Manila into Evil Empire by cloning Singapore.
Lee Kuan Yew had an easy task in modernizing Singapore because it is a city-state. A city-state does not have problems of insurgency. Third World insurgencies are caused by poverty in the countryside. The shantytowns in Third World cities are produced by migrants from the rural areas flocking to the urban centers in search of a better life. A city-state thus saves the resources that would be used to fight insurgency and devotes these to development. The compact area of a city-state also means less outlay for infrastructure. Transmission of government communications and policies is fast and effective, without some remote communities left out of the system.
If Metro Manila does not get its way in the proposed federation and decides to secede, it becomes a ready-made Singapore. The NCR will be able to retain all the taxes it collects for its own benefit rather than keep sending a portion of it to subsidize the impoverished states. By declaring its independence, it will be able to stop the endless migration of poor folk from the rural areas. In a short time, because it has the resources, it will be able to eliminate the shantytowns. A low birth rate in the NCR means that it can devote sufficient resources to providing high-quality education to its constituents and quickly transform itself into a First World country like Singapore. Staying within the union will mean the NCR perpetually sharing the poverty of the rest of the country.
The proposed Philippine Federation cannot be a viable entity if the NCR secedes. Since the NCR will have adequate resources, its federal police will be better armed than the police forces of the other member-states. In short, the federal government will not be in a position to use force to keep the NCR in the federation.
And keeping the NCR in the federation will come at a steep price. It will stay only if it becomes the master of the federation, in the same manner that Prussia dictated the policies of the German Confederation. The gap between the wealth of Manila and the rest of the country will grow rather than diminish. Thus, Imperial Manila becomes the Evil Empire in the Philippine Federation.
For a federal system to work in the country, the citizens and the politicians they elect must put the interest of the federation above the interest of a member-state. That is a pipe dream; even now, our loyalty is to family first before Madre Filipinas. Thus, federalization means we maintain a union dominated by an Evil Empire, or we balkanize our country.
Hermenegildo C. Cruz holds a degree in international development jointly conferred by Tufts and Harvard Universities. A retired ambassador, he was posted to Canada, the United States and the Soviet Union and was able to observe “the complexity of running a federal system of government.”
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