Is Federalism the answer to our current problems?
|photo by Pal Raine|
First, a Federal republic will build a just and enduring framework for peace through unity in our ethnic religious and cultural diversity, especially in relation to Bangsa Moro or Muslim Filipinos. Responsive Federalism will accommodate their legitimate interests, end the war in Mindanao, and discourage secessionism.
Second, Federalism will empower our citizens by enabling them to raise their standard of living and enhance their political awareness, participation and efficacy in elections and the making of important government decisions. Governance will be improved and corruption will be reduced….
Third, Federalism will improve governance by empowering and challenging State and local leaders and entrepreneurs around the country….the people will be more willing to pay taxes that will finance government programs and services for their direct benefit.
Fourth, Federalism will hasten the county’s development….There will be inter-State and regional competition in attracting domestic and foreign investments and industries, professionals and skilled workers, good teachers and scholars, artists, and tourists. A renaissance of regional languages and cultures will enrich the national language and culture. The Federal Government will help support the less endowed and developed regions, and the poor and the needy across the land….
Fifth, Federalism, together with parliamentary government, will improve governance promoting the development of program-oriented political parties that are responsible and accountable the people for their conduct and performance in and out of power.
Sixth, Federalism will broaden and deepen democracy and make its institutions deliver on the constitutional promise of human rights, a better life for all, a just and humane society, and responsible and accountable political leadership and governance (CMFP Draft Constitution February 2005:4-5).
Issues and Concerns
“While preparing for federalism, the government should be more decentralized. It is necessary to promote and develop self- reliance in the local governments that will be converted to states. They should have the capability and resources to function effectively as states under a federal government. They should be enabled to respond to the needs and demands of the community and fulfill their roles under a federal set-up. Parallel movement, therefore, of devolution and federalism is vital.”
“The move toward federalism should be purposive and deliberative. The process should also be participatory and broad-based. Various sectors of society must be involved to effect change that will be beneficial to the nation. Time to study, discuss, debate and consider other alternatives for change is important. As Abueva put it,’we should not repeat the haste under pressure in making our present (1987) Constitution.’”
1. The 24 Senators should be increased to 54 Senators. The Senate must be proportionally represented by 18 Regions thus two senators must come each from NCR, CAR, Region I, Region II, Region III, Region IV – A, Region IV – B, Region V, Region VI, Region VII, Region VIII, Region IX, Region X, Region XI, Region XII, Region XIII, ARMM and BANGSANGMORO. The Senators should be elected by popular vote.
2. The 292 congressmen and 54 senators must elect the President and Vice – President among themselves.
3. Elective public officers must be college graduates. Voters must be college graduates.
4. Candidates with pending and / or decided criminal cases whatever be the imposable penalties are disqualified to run for public offices.
5. Convicted public officers in graft and corruption cases including plunder cannot be granted an absolute pardon by a President.
6. Appointment of Supreme Court, Sandiganbayan and Appellate Court Justices are made by the votes of the majority of the members of bicameral congress. Application is open to all qualified lawyers addressed to JBC subject to background investigation and processing of application by JBC that will transmit the qualified nominees to the Office of the President, which in turn, it will submit the shortlist of nominees, of not more than ten, to bicameral congress for voting. Public interview and opposition will be conducted by the Committee on Justice prior to the actual voting. JBC nominates the trial court judges only for appointment by the Office of the President.
7. Supreme Court decides only judicial cases not administrative cases;
8. Creation of constitutional office that will discipline all public attorneys, public prosecutors and judges;
9. Abolition of first level courts and second level courts. All trial courts are uniformly called District Trial Courts nationwide. Its sole purpose is for reception of evidence and rendition of decision. The Judges are classified according to rank e.g. by seniority, high case disposal, low case reversal on appeal, that determined their salaries and allowances.
10. Supreme Court hears constitutional cases only. It entertains appealed cases with charge of grave abuse of discretion of trial court or appellate court that it will render administrative liability of gravely abusive Judge.
11. Supreme Court cannot issue any Temporary Restraining Order or Permanent Injunction in the exercise of its Power of Judicial Review.
12. Creation of Administrative Investigation Committee of complaints against impeachable officers whose offenses are not culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust that will conduct investigation, report and recommendation for imposition of appropriate penalties by bicameral congress within two months. Summary procedure is adopted.
13. Simple majority of those who participated in the impeachment proceedings is required to convict an impeachable officer.
14. Impeachment proceedings should be summary procedure. Judicial affidavits and position papers are taken in lieu of trial – type hearings. Impeachment should be finished within 3 months in closed – door or public – type proceedings. Judgment is immediately issued.
15. Bicameral congress can introduce changes to the Economic provisions of the Constitution upon the vote of its simple majority members only without the ratification of the people in an election called for such purpose.
16. Reduction of the basic rights of the accused and addition of the rights of the State as the offended party and the victims in crimes.
“The Philippines needs a revolution at the top and center to transform the country, from an economic, labor exporting, consumer exploited backwater and political basket case to a nation led by leaders implementing a long term national and unified plan, rising above partisan and electoral considerations, to dismantle the foreign-local oligarchy public utilities monopoly, restore national credit to agro-industrial productivity, establish political meritocracy through qualification standards for electoral and public service office. This will require a strong, national, unified nation and government.”(4)