Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Exchanges and thoughts on federalism

(Now that the charter change debate to adopt federalism is on the national radar screen again, I would like to repost here certain exchanges and my own thoughts on the matter [slightly edited] that took place in Pinoy-rin.net several years ago).


On federalism and feudalism

dyandi: If federalism should promote autonomy in the localities, how different will its dynamics be (local and national-local ones) from the dynamics that exist now, or should exist, given the implementation of the 1991 Local Government Code? Bear in mind these realities: On one hand, the prevalence of traditional politics, which is foreseen to last for 100 years more, and on the other hand, the opportunities for people participation and empowerment, which have been institutionalized through two People Powers but have yet to be radically realized in local communities.

rickosay: Regionalism promotes competition between regions. But it also promotes unification of the people within the same region.

shark: There’s a possibility that with federalization, each state now legally becomes a fiefdom with the landed class in power as modern-day barons behind the office of the governor.

abe: At least, theoretically, the goal of federalism is, among others, to promote: 1) participatory democracy by bringing important issues closer to grassroots levels, and 2) efficiency through competition between and among states and other local units.

I agree that the existing dynamics that permits a “strange form of feudalism” in the Philippines, which one of you also pointed out, could possibly be further debilitated by federalism.

dyandi’s concern above is, it seems, reducible to: If the masses now play a tiny role under a centralized system, People Power notwithstanding, is there a danger that that role might further be diminished, or taken away altogether, under a decentralized system considering the dearth or absence of people power in local communities?

I would like to respond by first referring to my earlier post advocating for certain principles to guide a systemic change process. I posted that the ideal transformation, to borrow some insights from Clarence N. Stone, could follow the following guidance:

1) Diffuse power by adopting a system where everyone could govern and be governed in turn, or where the governed actually takes part in governing.

2) Through appropriate education, instill a deep sense of citizenship and public duty on the part of the governors, present and future.

The first mode assumes that every member of the body politic is essentially equal in education and experience, and implies that any variant characteristics (e.g., wealth or prestige) are unimportant enough not to favor any group or faction. It however presupposes that present power wielders are willing to join the experiment.

The second mode (education) complements the first.

The goal of this one ideal is for every member of the body politic to become committed to a continuing open inquiry of the system. If under such an ideal none stands to lose by altering a system in place that is not responsive to current needs, then all could be motivated to explore alternatives in a manner limited only by the expanse of everyone’s creativity.

In our town where I grew up (and probably in many other towns today in the Archipelago), community power has been firmly in the hands of a few powerful politicians and local businessmen, professionals, the parish priest, merchants, and some school heads (almost in that order) rather than with the people of the community.

Community activism, if any, was rather sectoral in our town, e.g., by the workers’ union of a transportation company. The union had staged a couple of strikes against the company (as to such workers’ activism the community in general was as indifferent as it was to the irresponsible waste disposal by the company into the town’s waterways); and by the students sector (during my time and apparently only during my time) when I led a couple of student demonstrations against a university founded in our town. The student demonstrations were staged demanding better educational facilities, upgraded academic standards, higher teacher’s pay, and the curtailment of illegal school contributions exacted from the poor students.

The only reason why, I suppose, I was able to pull it without putting myself in harm’s way was: The spouse of the school owner was my baptismal godparent; their son, the Mayor now, was (and still is) a best friend of mine; my father was the Dean of the school; the Mayor then who provided police protection to the demonstrators belonged to a contra-partido and a godparent of one of my brothers; and the bulk of the students who joined the demonstrations were from a competing school of another prominent politician (who happened to be my other godparent) as well as students from other schools in the neighboring city.

In other words, in shark’s feudalistic conception, the other student activists who braved to join us to challenge one fiefdom were from other fiefdoms.

What’s being attempted here is to show that empowerment, political participation, and activism were an aberration in our town (or despite our town) and important community decision making fell within the power of the community’s sub-elites who, more often than not, took their cues from other elites holding higher rungs in the hierarchy.

When I became a professional myself, I decided to opt out of the community and tried my luck in the capital region, meaning in Metro-Manila. As I’ve figured out above, the only possible reason I had been treated peaceably despite the challenge I posed to the sub-elite structure was because of my special relations with the powers that be in our community.

dyandi: Will federalism - which some consider to be decision-making process by sub-elites - change the foregoing power dynamics in our towns, or the power dynamics in your particular community given its own peculiar setup?

abe: My answer is “possible,” federalism or not, but only at the activist’s own peril.

Formal federalism and real federalism

dyandi: Will formal federalism help attain real federalism?

abe: Formal federalism, which is the legal restructuring of the political authority by dividing it among levels of government, could be the easy part. In the Philippines, what it requires is a constitutional amendment considering the unitary structure of our government under the present constitution.

But, now, once sovereignty is partitioned through charter change, will it result in real federalism, curtailing the powers of national government (and the national elites) while at the same time limiting the exploitation of the local citizens by the individual states or other local units (and the local sub-elites)?

One argument goes that under a formal federalism, real federalism is likelier to take place because, for example, it would had been easier for an activist like me to have been heard when the polity was smaller. This is the so-called benefit of voice.

The other argument is that efficiency is promoted when individual states start to compete against another for businesses to settle in their localities. This efficiency, which may refer to taxing, spending, or regulatory standards, is so-labeled as the benefit of competition, rather a business-friendly benefit especially when states offer business incentives (e.g. minimal taxation or subsidizing the cost of doing business) at the expense of the public or the ordinary taxpayers. Now, on the part of these businesses, they have the corollary benefit of option to exit into the more efficient or more business-friendly states. Hence, the competition.

In so far as the sovereignty of the individual is concerned, the dynamics of power in the local community could possibly remain unperturbed despite federalism or the partitioning of political sovereignty between national government and state governments. And worse, federalism might even reinforce the power of fiefdoms, which is the fear of shark.

On charter change (copycats beware!)

abe: The answer I would like to venture to these very valid concerns is basically: As long as the terms of the amendments are clearly spelled out to enforce certain guiding principles reached through the peoples’ collective imagination and creativity - such as, for example, the ones suggested above - instead of merely imitating or copying the federal constitutions of other countries, then the illusions of decentralization could probably be avoided.

Therefore, instead of merely focusing, for instance, on the parliamentary or presidential form of government, the proposed charter change undertaking should spend more time and effort to provide for the processes on how to institutionalize and facilitate people’s initiatives and referenda, effective recall devices, town assemblies or meetings, and other forms of grassroots consultation and people power mechanisms; and prescribe serious sanctions (penalties) in such cases as the stifling (by the government or its agents) of the lawful exercise of people power. The actual experiences of individual communities and the collective aspirations of the nation, not necessarily of some so-called experts, would be crucial in formulating these processes.

To avoid the American experience of allowing the judiciary ample powers to re-engineer the provisions of the Constitution according to the justices’ proclivities and agenda, the amendments should clearly enumerate and delineate the powers both of the national and state governments, leaving an unaccountable judiciary narrower leeway to tamper with the peoples’ aspirations.

The one thing, I believe, that should be avoided first and foremost would be to go for a charter change, now or in the future, that’s not powered by the people or dictated by our national values, needs and goals. Otherwise, the result could possibly be more disempowerment.

The argument of Crisline G. Torres, a professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, is therefore worth listening to. Responding to an earlier charter change euphoria, she has called for –
‘ . . . a lengthening of the time horizon of progressives where instead of rushing into political campaigns on Charter change, they should actively engage in the study groups on constitutional design issues’ and ‘in a matter of years . . . develop the conceptual sophistication to finally come up with a range of positions that can be put on the negotiating table with different political groups and the public on how to meet the at times conflicting goals of effective governance, political accountability, and more inclusive representation with respect to the constitutional reforms.’

11 Comments:

Anonymous books said...

If You are looking for more info on books and am glad to be on your site. If you want to find out more about......books then go visit http://makemo4u.com......You wont be disapointed..Thanks For Visiting

April 22, 2006 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My prοgrammеr іs trying tο persuade me tο movе to .
net frοm ΡHP. I haνe always disliked the idea beсausе of the exρenses.
But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on a
numbeг of wеbsites for about a yеаr and am concerneԁ about switching tο another platfоrm.

ӏ have heагd fantastic things about blogengine.
net. Іs there a way I саn import all my wοrdpress
сontеnt into it? Any help ωould be гeаllу apρгeciаteԁ!


my ωeb-site; http://www.bucket--truck.com
Have a look at my weblog :: bucket truck safety

January 30, 2013 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greаt website you haνe heге but I waѕ wаnting to κnоw if you knew of any dіscussion boагds that cover the same topics discusseԁ in this aгtiсle?
І'd really like to be a part of community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate it!

my web site :: benefits of bucket trucks
Also see my site > bucket truck for sale

February 05, 2013 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off I want to say wоndеrful blog!
I had a quіck quеstion that I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
І waѕ interested to fіnd оut how
you сenteг yourself аnd clear your mind befoгe writіng.
I've had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Many thanks!

Feel free to surf to my blog - tens unit

February 26, 2013 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ηowdу! This аrtіcle cοulԁ not bе written muсh bеtter!
Lοokіng thгοugh this poѕt
reminds me of my pгеvious roοmmate!
He аlωays kept talkіng аbout this.
I will foгwаrd this infοгmation
to him. Pгetty sure hе wіll hаvе
a good reаd. Mаny thanκs for shаring!



Fеel fгее to νisіt my blog post: www.realestatevirtualassistants.net

May 28, 2013 4:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.pregnancyaid.in
But in case of twins or multiple pregnancy the growth of the belly is very quick and considerable more than the singleton pregnancy. This means that only the area nearest the scanner will be observed, in such a way that other problems may be hidden and left untreated.

June 07, 2013 4:51 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

chanel handbags, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches, christian louboutin shoes, burberry handbags, prada handbags, oakley sunglasses wholesale, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, uggs on sale, louis vuitton, kate spade outlet, polo outlet, louis vuitton, ugg boots, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses, tiffany and co, tiffany jewelry, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin uk, uggs outlet, replica watches, nike air max, jordan shoes, gucci handbags, nike free, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet online, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, nike outlet, christian louboutin outlet, burberry outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses

January 05, 2016 9:37 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

nike tn, coach outlet, replica handbags, nike roshe run uk, ray ban uk, guess pas cher, nike air max uk, sac hermes, true religion jeans, north face uk, ralph lauren uk, michael kors pas cher, coach outlet store online, converse pas cher, vans pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike free uk, coach purses, polo lacoste, nike free run, michael kors, abercrombie and fitch uk, michael kors, burberry pas cher, air max, new balance, nike roshe, nike blazer pas cher, nike air max uk, hollister pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, true religion outlet, kate spade, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, north face, true religion outlet, mulberry uk, ray ban pas cher, jordan pas cher, polo ralph lauren, hollister uk, nike air max, lululemon canada, louboutin pas cher, nike air force, michael kors outlet, timberland pas cher, hogan outlet

January 05, 2016 9:41 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

nike tn, coach outlet, replica handbags, nike roshe run uk, ray ban uk, guess pas cher, nike air max uk, sac hermes, true religion jeans, north face uk, ralph lauren uk, michael kors pas cher, coach outlet store online, converse pas cher, vans pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike free uk, coach purses, polo lacoste, nike free run, michael kors, abercrombie and fitch uk, michael kors, burberry pas cher, air max, new balance, nike roshe, nike blazer pas cher, nike air max uk, hollister pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, true religion outlet, kate spade, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, north face, true religion outlet, mulberry uk, ray ban pas cher, jordan pas cher, polo ralph lauren, hollister uk, nike air max, lululemon canada, louboutin pas cher, nike air force, michael kors outlet, timberland pas cher, hogan outlet

January 05, 2016 9:42 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

north face outlet, iphone 5s cases, valentino shoes, soccer shoes, timberland boots, beats by dre, babyliss, ralph lauren, ipad cases, nike trainers uk, asics running shoes, nike air max, celine handbags, lululemon, iphone 6s plus cases, new balance shoes, iphone cases, p90x workout, insanity workout, soccer jerseys, vans outlet, iphone 6 cases, chi flat iron, bottega veneta, mac cosmetics, louboutin, wedding dresses, giuseppe zanotti outlet, nfl jerseys, hollister, nike huaraches, jimmy choo outlet, hermes belt, baseball bats, iphone 6s cases, nike roshe run, reebok outlet, hollister clothing, longchamp uk, abercrombie and fitch, mont blanc pens, ghd hair, iphone 6 plus cases, mcm handbags, oakley, ferragamo shoes, north face outlet, s6 case, herve leger, instyler

January 05, 2016 9:44 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

supra shoes, moncler, vans, moncler, thomas sabo, canada goose, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, canada goose, marc jacobs, moncler, doke gabbana, converse, barbour, swarovski, pandora charms, hollister, moncler uk, canada goose outlet, juicy couture outlet, lancel, gucci, ray ban, canada goose, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, links of london, toms shoes, canada goose outlet, swarovski crystal, louis vuitton, converse outlet, ugg, moncler, louis vuitton, karen millen uk, nike air max, wedding dresses, pandora jewelry, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg pas cher, juicy couture outlet, canada goose outlet, doudoune moncler, canada goose jackets, canada goose uk, replica watches, pandora jewelry, montre pas cher, moncler outlet, ugg uk, pandora uk

January 05, 2016 9:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home