Functional Federalism and the OFW Nation
We often think of federalism as a division of the nation into major geographic areas, each with considerable autonomy in how it is run.
Under federalism, several broad geographic regions within the Philippines would be responsible for their own economic and social well-being. They would raise taxes and spend them, and handle infrastructure, education, and social services. The National government would be shrunk to hold responsibility only for the overarching matters like defense, national financial affairs, foreign affairs, and perhaps utilities (broadband services, electricity). The carving would be intricate and intense. It would likely make the arguments over the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) seem petty.
But really, federalism is just how you divide power. Normally, it is envisioned as geographic, but it does not have to be. At least that will be my argument here.
We actually have a version of federalism now that is class based where the rich and entitled have different powers than the poor. The powers of the poor are to receive freebies like CCT grants or hospital care or contraceptives, if senators are not so cruel as to remove funding for them. The rich and entitled have the power to sue for libel and get divorces because the common man can’t afford the legal barriers to “justice”. Some among the entitled can do just about anything they want, as long as they don’t get caught.
So we are a nation of power-blocs, essentially. That is the current federated state. The LGU heads . . . mayors and governors . . . collectively represent a bloc granted considerable power. Look at how rich and entrenched the dynastic barons have become with the powers granted them. Look at the number of minions doing services on their behalf, both within government and without.
The laws may not explicitly recognize these stratifications as federated states, but the laws do functionally allocate powers differently to different groups.
We can also consider OFW’s as a functional power group. This group is spread out around the world, but speaks almost as a voice of one when there are problems with bullets in bags or a proposal to raise fees on balikbayan boxes. Filipino OFWs gather as sub-communities within the nations were they reside, and, although many become citizens of the lands where they work, the Philippines is home. It is the homeland. There is unity to that.
The Philippines has developed a significant organization in support of OFW’s within the Department of Labor and Employment:
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
- National Reintegration Center for OFW’s (NRCO)
- Philippine Overseas Employment Adminstration (POEA)
The only thing missing is a formal government that ties it all together. Missing is representation in the Legislature and the authorities that accompany self-management, as laid out in the BBL, for instance.
So this illustrates that power need not be distributed only along traditional geographic lines. And it raises the interesting question, “Can we create a Functional Federation of the Philippines”? How would be divide the functions to have clear separating borders and the kind of cohesion that would support a vibrant, modern, growing nation? It has to include all citizens of the nation.
Here’s one idea about how to establish a governing framework based on functions:
- OFWs. The groups is comprised of all Filipino citizens who reside outside the Philippines, including dual citizens if they register. The government is headquartered in the Philippines.
- Large corporations: The oligarchs and officers of large corporations would be put in one group, with their powers to influence confined. That is, constrained. Companies in the functional class would be identified by name. The people in this class would be barred from financing elections held in other functional groups. They would have designated representatives in the national Legislature. They would make their own ethical and competitive limits under a framework of commerce provided by National that prohibits over-concentration of resources. This function would be put in place to contain, restrain, and organize large commercial resources in a healthy way, and to end dominance of corporate money over the well-being of the entire nation. Corporate officers would belong to this group and no other.
- Legal officers: Law firms, attorneys and judges. This group, too, would have its own rules, funding mechanisms, and ethical standards. It would be separated from the political influences of various interest groups. Justice would be independent. The most capable of the class would be promoted to judicial positions.
- Mass media: Media owners, publishers, producers, editors and reporters. This class, too, would be separated from political influence to and from other functional groups. It’s sole reason for being would be the responsible and thorough dissemination of information. The group would be funded in part by advertising revenue, in part by subscription fees, and in part by National budget allocation to the group’s governing body. It would be up to the mass media functional group’s leaders to work out how National’s funding would be distributed.
- Religious leaders: Leaders of all churches, but not the members of congregations. The establishment of a governing body for religions would ensure a unity among interests that typically are competitive or divisive. It would require that they establish ethical guidelines that solve the problem of doctrinal conflict, and end the artificial and often violated barrier between religion and state.
- Education, science and technology leaders: All teachers, professors, and Department of Science and Technology officials. The mandate would be to increase the knowledge and technological abilities of all Filipino students, promote critical thinking, and generate a strong sense of nationhood built upon high ethical principles.
- Military and police: All members of the AFP and PNP. The leadership of this functional group would unify training and end the duplicate and competitive conflicts witnessed in Mamasapano. The members would be separated from any and all political influences and would focus specifically on providing sophisticated and powerful security for the nation. Funding would come from National based on assessments levied against other functional groups.
- National Government: All elected, appointed and hired employees of the National government. This group would end the duplications of functions that now exist and trim the bureaucracy. It would assure that ethical mandates are firm and unbending and no crooks or former crooks are employed within its ranks. Revenue would come from fees for services.
- Local Government: All elected, appointed and hired employees of Local government units. “Sister City” programs would be outlawed, for they form a private interest group. But all local officials and workers would have representation in the National government.
- The People: All those not included in any other functional class, organized into three geographies, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each geography would have representatives in the National government.
A National Governing Council (NGC) would be formed. Its membership would include two representatives elected from each functional group. In our alignment of functions, there would be 24 council members representing the various groups. The NGC would elect the President of the Philippines from within its own membership.
The functional alignment would require the creation of a national ID, based originally on the Voters ID with its biometrics and other data, as a way to assign each and every Filipino citizen to a functional class. The rules for class assignment would be simple and clear and the changing of functional class would be easily accomplished at the initiative of the individual citizen.
You may think this idea is “out of the box”, but it is not. It is corporate. And it is structured to move toward specific goals: health, wealth, knowledge, fairness and opportunity.
The beauty of the arrangement is the ending of vested interests controlling the nation and ignorance playing a prominent role in voting. The beast is getting it done because the existing Constitution would have to be done away with.
The fun would be in the crafting of governing bodies for each functional class and figuring out financing mechanisms that would fairly allocate money generated and dispersed.
Perhaps you have some ideas as to how this crafting might be done.