Some clutter on a keyboardshould be the main priority of whatever reforms are implemented – Federalism or not. It just takes a short look at House Bills of the Philippine Congress (link) to see they are wasting a lot of time:

  • HB00007 AN ACT INCREASING THE BED CAPACITY OF THE ROXAS DISTRICT HOSPITAL IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF ROXAS, PROVINCE OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, FROM FIFTY TO ONE HUNDRED BEDS, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT 7857
  • HB00015 AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE AND FREEPORT IN THE PROVINCE OF ILOCOS SUR, CREATING FOR THIS PURPOSE THE ILOCOS SUR SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE AND FREEPORT AUTHORITY, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
  • HB00017 AN ACT CREATING TWO ADDITIONAL BRANCHES OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IN THE PROVINCE OF ILOCOS SUR, ONE FOR THE CITY OF VIGAN AND ANOTHER FOR THE MUNICIPALITY OF STO. DOMINGO, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7472 ENTITLED ‘AN ACT AMENDING SECTION 1 OF THE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7154 ENTITLED ‘AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION FOURTEEN OF BATAS PAMBANSA BILANG 129 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE JUDICIARY REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1981’ BY RESTORING THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BRANCH IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF CANDON AND CREATING TWO ADDITIONAL REGIONAL TRIAL COURT BRANCHES IN THE PROVINCE OF ILOCOS SUR, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE
  • HB00030 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE UPGRADE AND MODERNIZATION OF THE J.R. BORJA CITY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AS AN EXTENSION HOSPITAL OF THE NORTHERN MINDANAO MEDICAL CENTER (NMMC) IN CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, PROVINCE OF MISAMIS ORIENTAL AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
  • HB00031 AN ACT INCREASING THE BED CAPACITY OF THE NORTHERN MINDANAO MEDICAL CENTER IN CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7938, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
  • HB00032 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CITY PUBLIC COLLEGE IN CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY TO BE KNOWN AS THE CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY PUBLIC COLLEGE AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR

ENOUGH, ENOUGH!! Aside from the fact that they use large letters on that page, just like Internet trolls, these matters rightfully should be decided more locally:

  • matters like healthcare and education facilities as well as economic incentives belong somewhere at the regional, provincial or municipal level I think
  • a certain percentage of the taxes resulting from regions, provinces, municipalities/cities should I think go to them, for them to be more flexible
  • there are provincial and municipal councils to decide on how funds are spent – democratic checks – might regional councils also be an idea?
  • if one does not trust the councils at whatever level, then the local level would be a place to start with Freedom of Information
  • Plebiscites at these levels might be an idea as well – including the power to impeach governors and mayors if needed

Federalism might overwhelm the Philippine system and not solve its problems – maybe focused decentralization is needed more. Some ideas:

  • The implementation of education, justice, healthcare, economic incentives and more are State matters in Germany. The Federation can concentrate on its more important responsibilities.
  • it does not necessarily have to be federal – why can there not be regional councils? After some years of experience, one could still decide on whether to make them states. Not rush in.
  • Tax brackets, nurses pay and other things have to be decided on by Congress as well. Why not index them in the future, based on buying power? NEDA could revise the index every year.

One should not forget that the Philippines spans a distance similar to the one from Oslo to Rome, going from North to South – and Congress decides even on the naming of streets!

Here in Europe people often hate “Brussels” – the Commission – for deciding on many things in member countries. But these are mostly standards – not where to open schools and hospitals. Corporations may decide to centralize certain things for efficiency – but a country burdening its legislature with that level of detail is of course inefficient – time to unclutter the system?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 26 May 2016