The Philippines is a centralistic state, a legacy of Spanish colonialism. Latin countries are very centralistic, even to the extent of suppressing local traditions and languages. France did this during the French revolution, Spain still tries to do this towards its regions even after Franco. But is this appropriate for an archipelago, for a country with so many local traditions?
It might be better to give the regions more representation in order to make the nation more flexible, even encourage economic competion between regions. What must be guarded against are separatist tendencies. Therefore I have a proposal for a decentralized, federal organization of the Philippines:
- National level: keep legislation, national security, central databases such as NCSO, Land Titles, control over strategic natural resources etc.
- Regional level: handles economic incentives, education and culture (coordinated among regions to ensure compatibility) and tourism promotion
- Local level: handles citizen services (helped by national databases), small and medium-sized business promotion, and barangay-level mediation
Being an SAP expert, this is similar to the three-tier SAP model: database server (national), application server (regional) and user interface (local). It would ensure that matters that need to be controlled nationally are kept national, things that have to be close to the citizen are close to the citizen, and regions can compete with one another economically, in attracting tourists, and in promoting their professional and vocational talents. The entire nation would benefit.
More ideas as food for thought and further brainstorming:
- Why not abolish provinces and replace them with cantons like in Switzerland – smaller than provinces but composed of several local government units (LGUs)?
- Why not give nation, regions and cantons the power to raise their own respective taxes and spend them, with some central auditing?
- Why not change the setup of the Senate, make it a body that has two Senators per region, giving regions a stronger voice – and more prestige?
- Why not move the Supreme Court to Cebu, the Congress to Davao, the Senate to Baguio so they always have cool heads, keep the President in Manila?
- Why not have a national language for all, a regional language for every region, with optional languages also accepted cantonally for those who need them?
Accomplish more real unity by accepting diversity instead of fighting it and thereby alienating large parts of the country – like what is happening now. These are ideas worth thinking about.
Irineo B. R. Salazar, Munich, 27. May 2015