Federalism: A 'Courageous' Move

"There is no model where the Philippines can pattern its transition to federalism. It must have already been 100 years ago when something like that happened," said FNF Regional Director for South East and East Asia Siegfried Herzog. "It is a courageous move for the Philippines to shift to a new form of government now. There is a chicken-and-egg question on the issue of federalism: Do we federalize because we want to be polycentric? Or shall we first make sure that we're polycentric before we federalize?," asked Herzog.

Herzog spoke at the IAF Alumni Gathering on 15 September 2016 in Makati City. He emphasized that the Federal Republic of Germany has developed several strong states: Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, to name a few, where advantages of federalism are evident like a competition of ideas in governance.

Political power and economic activities are concentrated in one area in a unitary system. "This is the case in Metro Manila, although we are seeing the emergence of Davao as well as Cebu. In France, are there other areas that match Paris? Lyon doesn't compare," Herzog explained, and stressed that France is not a federal form of government.

Macky Blanco, Head of Policy at the Office of the Vice President raised that the importance of public discourse in determining the mode for a charter change, the transition mechanism should the country decides to shift to federalism, and the safeguards against dynasty and economic inequality.

Lito Arlegue, Executive Director of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and a professor of Philippine Government at Miriam College and College of St. Benilde explored whether federalism is beneficial, necessary, and possible. Arlegue noted the achievements and shortcomings of the Local Government Code of 1991, and pushed for its further review.

The discussion was facilitated by Nagcarlan Vice Mayor and Kaya Natin Movement for Good Governance and Amie Hernandez, who recently came back from Gummersbach where she attended the IAF seminar Local Politics and Citizen's Participation.

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