Federalism – what they don’t tell you


By Chempo

Other than the external security threat imposed by the Chinese island grab, I would generalize the endemic problems of the Philippines to 3 areas – poverty, ineptitude in governance and never-ending political crises. It is a vicious cycle, each a cause and effect of the other. In Joeam style, if I were to set up 3 baskets for these ills and have people fill up forms to suggest a specific problem, I could easily throw the forms into one of these baskets.

To eradicate the country’s ills effectively, we need a serious cleansing of the deficits in the trinity of people, political structure, and form of government.

(a) On the people – just what is required of the people? This has been covered excellently by many blogs and related comments in this Society and this article will not discuss it. Suffice it to say we have discussed issues like civility, rule of law, voting wisely, thinking critically, smaller families, crab mentality, salvation by austerity, personal discipline, etc.

(b) On political structure – Serious reforms are required to address deficits in political parties, political dynasties and turncoatism.  We have parties that have no platform or ideology, that admit into their ranks thieves, plunderers, liars, cheaters, those implicated in murders and others tainted one way or another. We have a uniquely Filipino situation where a President often ends up with a VP from a different party. So instead of preparing the VP for the unfortunate event of taking over the highest office in the land from an incapacitated President, we see the latter shut out from affairs of the state.

(c) Form of government. – The options on the table are (a) unitary or federal, and (b) presidential or parliamentary.

Very often, complex issues can best be understood and addressed when presented in its simplest association. So, in a nutshell, we have :

PROBLEMS   :     Poverty   –   Govt ineptitude   –   Political crisis
SOLUTION     :    People     –   Political structure  –   Form of Govt


Is federalism the answer?

It is politically fashionable now to talk of federalism as if it’s a panacea to the country’s problems. But is it, really? It is very apparent from the simplistic view above that no single solution on its own will ever cure the maladies that have stricken the Philippines since independence.

In 117 years, the Philippines has had 5 constitutions. It is a world record of sorts and betrays a democracy still struggling in a sea of instability.

(1) 1899 – the Malolos constitution
(2) 1935 – the Commonwealth constitution
(3) 1943 – the Japanese constitution
(4) 1973 – the Marcos dictatorship constitution
(5) 1986 – the Corazon Aquino revolutionary constitution
(6) 1987 – the current constitution

Here we are in 2016 trying to change or amend the constitution yet again. Since the time of Apolinario Mabini and Emilio Aguinaldo, the preference for separate states has been a lingering unfulfilled desire. From the git-go in the drafting of the first constitution, the unitary state was something that was never expected to survive long. It was hammered together to put on a unified front to the American colonizers. Over the years, we hear the not so sweet refrain of federalism ever constantly. President Arroyo made the first official attempt to get the federalism bandwagon moving. She set up a consultative Commission to study and put up a proposal which was completed hastily in 3 months. They favored a federal-parliamentary form via a Constitutional Convention (con-con). Then followed the usual Filipino prime time dramas – political bickering. Some others preferred the Constitutional Assembly (con-ass). Fear that Arroyo’s ulterior motive was to prolong her reign in a parliamentary constitution killed the whole idea for charter change (cha-cha).

I know only of 3 parties who have come up with some form of draft constitution for a federal constitution:

– Citizen’s Movement for Federal Philippines (CMFP) – who favors a federal-parliamentary constitution via con-con.

– Coalition for Charter Change Now (CCCN) – promotes federal-presidential constitution first and then transition into federal-parliamentary form via con-ass.

– Sen Aquilino Pimentel – his draft bill called for federal-presidential via con-ass.

On this big national issue of federalism, before jumping into the details and nitty-gritties of a proposed constitution, one should appreciate what are the core politiks.

(a) Con-ass or con-con

Con-ass : by simple majority, Congress can form a con-ass who will craft the new constitution. By ¾ majority, con-ass can approve the cha-cha for plebiscite. It’s all Congress say, Congress do.

Con-con : Congress can call for a con-con by 2/3 majority vote. Members of con-con are elected in constituencies. It is con-con members, and not Congress, who get to draft the new constitution. Cha-cha proposal then goes to the plebiscite.

What they are not telling you is that under con-ass, the public does not participate in the crafting of cha-cha, it is rammed down your throats. The public will not see behind the scene big power play by vested interests. It is mind boggling that an issue of such importance to a country lies in the hands of 148 congressmen. There ought to be tougher hurdles than a simple majority. For heaven’s sake, it is tougher to get through government processes for one to get married here. On the other hand, con-con has substantial cost issues for the government. It is notable that Duterte favors con-con.

(b) Presidential or parliamentary

A federal-presidential constitution is basically same-old, same-old. The same fragmented political culture will be sub-planted at federal levels. Pimentel’s draft bill is for this system. Is this then the defacto PDP-Laban, and thus Duterte’s, proposal? A federal-parliamentary will be a great change in the political structure.


What is the objective of Philippine federalism?

In very basic terms, we are told Imperial Manila is the cause for under-development of provinces, and thus poverty. Development and unfair allocation of resources concentrated in the National Central Region impoverished the provinces. Executives in the central government, far removed from the provinces, do not know what is best for the provinces. This has also led to the long struggles of the Moro peoples for justice and fair treatment. Federalism will decentralize power from the center to the states.

Crucial to a federal system is the demarcation of the individual states. Somehow, by splitting the land, we are told the Moro problems will be solved once and for all. We are not told of the politicking and the power struggles that obviously will take place. When you carve up the land, it goes without saying some will benefit whilst others will be disadvantaged. The carving of the land must be driven by cultural divisiveness, or to borrow a word from Josephivo, a cultural fault line. Yet the way I see it, multi-culturalism has not failed in Philippines. Where are the conflicts apart from the Moro problem? There are many who say that the Philippines is tribal and clannish and the concept of a nation has not sunk into the consciousness of everyone. Yet Filipinos have lived together for more than a hundred years as a nation with everyone getting along just fine at the cultural level, except for the Moros. They are not telling you the proper perspective of the violence of 5% in Mindanao and peaceful co-existence of 95% everywhere else where multi-culturalism is flourishing, vibrant, and beautiful.

The economic plight of the Moros is understandable but that the magic wand of federalism will make their problems go away is foolish thinking. The Moro problem is due to a deep religious fault line. The Islamic population tends to be inward looking and at odds with others who don’t share the faith. It is the same experience shared by all countries where Muslims form a minority. For those that think somehow Muslims are one notch above others on the morality scale and will prosper if they govern themselves, just look at the experiment with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The first chance they get when funding from Malacanang poured in for development of the ARMM, billions went missing. Gov Misuari has some explaining to do for the missing Php 4 billion. Personally, I’m of the view that a separate state for the Muslims is simply kicking the can down the road. I have no wise words on how this problem can be resolved with finality.

Federalists say that states will be forced to be creative to do well for their region. Other states will try to replicate the success formulae of the better states and thus improve overall well-being of the country. What they don’t tell you is why political elites under the current system don’t copy the success formulae of other countries in the first place. And now they expect the states will do just that.

The main thrust of the march to federalism is economics. But they don’t tell you that many problems of the country lies with the political elites themselves. Every other reasoning brought into the discussion are plain excuses. If they cannot solve the country’s problems under existing political framework, what is the confidence level that these same elites will have the solutions in a federal set-up?

The whipping boy is Imperial Manila. But they do not tell you that 14 of your past presidents came from the provinces. And now he comes from Mindanao.

They don’t tell you much about the money aspects, that much of the wealth of the country is generated in Imperial Manila and is re-distributed to the rest of the country. Instead they point to simplistic reasoning, that that is precisely the reason, because all developments have been Manila-centric. They don’t explain that Imperial Manila’s growth is historical, over hundreds of years, that if you look at the map of the Philippines, there is a reason why Imperial Manila is the gem of the Philippines.

A government does not run on free air and sunshine, it requires lots of money. They don’t tell you that if we go federal with say 10 states, we will have 11 governments to pay for. You are going to have maybe 2,000 incumbent lawmakers all over the country.

They don’t tell you that you have no say in how the country is going to be cut up. In fact, they can’t even agree on this themselves. Over the years there have been so many variations, from 4 to 11 states, with lines drawn all differently, depending on the artist.


Some of the Weaknesses of Federalism

Entrenchment of dynasties at state levels will become more pronounced and impossible to eradicate.

The whole country will become more ethnocentric leading to more fragmentation. Tagalog will be replaced by dialects. Meaning, increased dis-unity.

Inequalities between states will become more pronounced, setting the stage for inter-state friction and start a  “race to the bottom” . They don’t tell you what this is all about.

“A race to the bottom” is a term used to describe how state governments will do all it takes to gain an upper hand over other states in order to retain economic activity in their jurisdiction. Examples of such action are regulatory impediments or practices, inequitable states taxes, etc.

In simple English: Filipino crap mentality gets promoted to state levels.

Political gridlock will occur as states block national policies. If you think existing Philippines law is byzantine, wait till you have State Laws vs Federal Laws. Just watch what is happening in the US. If you think TROs are a pain in your posterior, you ain’t feelin’ nothing yet.

They don’t tell you the details about the money split between the states and the Federal Govt. Just some percentages here and there being mentioned. The truth is, they can’t tell you, because nobody has figured that out, nobody has any metrics to work on. And yet they have the temerity to decide the income split. It will be just another can kicked down the road for future generations to fight it out. What if the percentage split turns out to be extremely inequitable? Remember, once decided, it will take another hundred years to change.


If a federalist wants to retain a presidential system, they won’t tell you the main reason that presidential system is bad

Fragmented politics leading to weakened trust in society and an impatient population disenfranchised with the establishment due to unmet needs, is a perfect storm for the rise of the angry vote. The political center has no chance against the angry votes who are swayed by extremist ideas of the ultra-nationalists, demagogues and outright racist voices. This is the scenario happening in many countries in the world. What is actually happening is that the world has back-slided into the ancient “voting on acclamation”

Voting on acclamation: Ancient Greeks and Romans have a way to vote in Senate – when an issue is discussed they go around arguing and chatting and the tone of their voice represents how strongly they feel on an issue. There are officials who will tune into the chatter and the stronger decibels registered in the room carries the decision.

The difference today is that the chatter is in the social media. Out of this cauldron unusual characters will step into the presidential office. This to me, is the madness in a presidential system. One man elected by a minority of the people gets all the powers. Duterte has about 29% of all those who voted, his supporters representing 16% of the population.

The president gets to appoint many key personnel in government. What the heck is universal suffrage for if people nobody voted for ended up in key positions? Remember Grace Poe said if she were president, none of her cabinet posts will go to politicians.

The president is King. There is nobody to hold him back. In a parliamentary system, the PM needs to tow party line. His party members keep him in check.


If a federalist wants to retain a presidential system, they won’t tell you what is good about parliamentary systems

Political parties have ideologies and platforms, so they attract members who are like-minded. The parties will self-police, ensuring good and principled members in their ranks. There will be no political turncoats.

Voting on the basis of platforms is so logical. For example, if the cry of the land is anti-dynasty, a party that promotes this will have established relevant party rules. If you are anti-political dynasty, you vote the party that promises this. No stupid anti-dynasty laws for Congress to sit on for donkey years.

Voters belong to specific electoral precincts. You vote for someone to represent your precinct in parliament. Very often people vote on the basis of what the party stands for more importantly than the candidates themselves. The candidate voted in becomes your Member of Parliament (MP) and he is your link to matters of governance in the country..

The party with the most number of members voted in is the winning party and they get to form the parliament. Party mates select their leader as Prime Minister. Party members fed up with their leader can easily remove the PM with a vote of no-confidence. No troublesome impeachment required. The PM appoints his party members to Ministerial post in cabinet. No one gets a free ride to cabinet — only members voted in can be selected.

In presidential systems all candidates self-fund their campaigns. Winning candidates assume office dead broke, so it’s assumed they seek to recoup their money illegally as incumbents. In parliamentary systems, elections are funded by the party. Thus a poor fellow from an unknown barangay has an opportunity to enter politics and contribute if he is capable. Parliamentary systems allow for greater people participation in politics.

The parliamentary system has two critical functions that are of great national interest, namely a shadow cabinet and a loyal opposition. These have been well discussed in Josephivo’s blog so I’ll pass except to stress on this. A shadow cabinet means for every ministerial position there is a shadow minister from the opposition. Actually, he does not work in the shadows, he is very much in the open. If he is a shadow Minister of Defense, he would keep abreast on all matters in his purview, make his relevant overseas contacts, and be able to offer solid counter opposition opinions in parliament.

At the social level, MPs play very important roles in connecting with the electorate. They hold regular meet-the-people sessions. People seek the MP’s assistance for all sorts of problems such as intercede on their behalf with some govt departments. Most often the MP helps in directing some other department resources to the needy and the helpless massa. The human touch is very much alive. In a presidential system, a congressman represents you. How many ordinary guy gets to meet his congressman in 6 years. A congressional hearing is’nt about listening to you.

The usual criticism of parliamentary system is that there is no separation of Executive and Legislative and there is no oversight on the Budget. The rebuttal to this is the ruling part will police itself. Members can force out their peers if they feel wrong decisions have been made. If they don’t, they loose the support of their respective constituents. That’s a more meaningful check and balance – indirectly that’s public participation in politics.


Worldwide Governance Indicator country ranking 2014

What I like about parliamentary systems has empirical basis. I was researching on this angle when commenter Intuitiveperspective started off a thread discussing some metrics pointing to the superiority of this form of government (Josephivo’s blog: Federalism – what are we talking about). It was a good discussion which has taken some zing away. But nevertheless, I’d like to share some more metrics that surely puts any doubt to rest.

The table below show that countries with good governance are preponderantly parliamentarian. I overlay the table with the one on country ranking by per capita income and the correlation is absolutely positive.

WGI ranking is based on 6 qualitative metrics:

  • Voice & accountability
  • Political stability & Lack of violence
  • Government effectiveness
  • Regulatory control
  • Rule of law
  • Control of corruption

The scores are in ranked percentile which is excellent for making comparatives, as in our instance here. For those who don’t understand statistics, let me explain in simple terms. If your son scored 60% on a math paper you may be disappointed, but you don’t know how he compares to his peer. Supposing there are 100 students and 95 of them scored 59% and below, then your son would have a ranked percentile of 95%, meaning he did better than 95% of the population.

The overall score is my insertion by simple average of the 6 criteria in order to have a basis for ranking..

Qualitative data is often suspect due to elements of subjectivity and bias. You may check out their methodologies at http://info.worldbank.org. The data is collected from very reliable sources. However, purely from worldly wisdom, the ranking seems to bear out.

Nevertheless, anomalies there always will be. For example, Singapore is the only country with perfect 100% in 2 categories and very high in 3 others and yet overall is only in 20th position. This is due to very low score in “Voice & Accountability” attributable to the country’s strong stance on libel law which liberals finger as suppression of dissent.

On per capita income – this is simply the GDP (at PPP or purchasing power parity) over population numbers. PPP is simply some methodology of adjustments to the GPD figure so that it is meaningful to compare across countries. Philippines is ranked 122 with $7,254. To improve in the ranking (meaning to improve poverty levels) is easy mathematically. Increase the numerator (GDP) or decrease the denominator (population). So one way to improve the poverty index is simply to turn off the spigot to population growth. If Duterte can implement his stop at 3 policy, he would have made the greatest contribution to Philippines. Killing a few criminals cannot improve wealth, but lowering population growth can.


With apologies for the lenghty table. Some small countries have been left out due to lack of data.



The approach to  federalism is somewhat puzzling to me — have a bunch of guys hunch over the tables and craft constitutional amendments first, and then get the people to vote YES or NO in a plebiscite? Surely it should be to get people to vote YES to federalism first, then craft the constitutional amendments, finally have a referendum to vote for acceptance of the new constitution? An example is the recent Scottish referendum for separation for the UK. The Scots voted NO, but had the vote been YES, only then would they have proceeded to craft their new constitution. Of course, Filipino constitutional lawyers will point out that the way to amend a constitution is laid out in the existing constitution. That is no answer to my question of the logic.

As a matter of fact, the people should not only say whether they want federalism or not, they should express what form of government they want under federalism — presidential or parliamentarian. The political elites and the entitled will certainly want the presidential form to be retained.

Let us hope that Philippines have learned from BREXIT. Days after they voted by the narrowest of margins to leave the EU, Google searches for “What is the EU” hit the roof. Days following that, people protested to conduct another referendum — they are asking for a reset button. Lots of folks voted without full awareness of the implications of an exit from the EU.  When the socio-economic impact reality set in, there are lots of  regrets all round.

There have been a few surveys on federalism conducted in the past which pointed to a similar narrow margin either way. I tend to think those surveys were premature. The folks here are just like the Brits — they simply are not yet equipped with the necessary knowledge to understand the issues. Most of the sound bites are coming from the federalists, and they are simply saying lets split na, but silent on presidential or parliamentary form. It would be a travesty of equity if such an important and historical decision for federalism is carried by a tiny majority voting without adequate understanding of the complex issues. One hopes that the country’s leadership and academia will take on the responsibility to ensure that the people are thoroughly informed. Media and social-media broadcasts alone are not enough. Townhall meetings across the islands down to barangay level should be conducted.

Good luck to the Philippines. Choose wisely.


348 Responses to “Federalism – what they don’t tell you”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    With the likes of Mocha Uson leading the intellectual charge, the country is doomed. 🙂

  2. Nearly 25 years ago, the Yugoslavian Civil War started – one day after a peace concert in Sarajevo in late July 1991. The first to break out where the Slovenes, who have a relatively compact area and are just beside Austria. People from Styria or Steiermark, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s home regions, have told me about Yugo MIG fighters crossing Austrian airspace during the Slovenian breakout. Others from Bad Radkersburg were I once was on vacation in the border area early this millenium told me of a Serb sniper in Upper Radkersburg or Gorna Radgona across the border – which there is only a small river and a bridge. The taxi driver who brought me to Slovenia (cheaper hotels there) showed me bullet marks in the houses…

    What is the relation to federalism? That it can break apart. Marshall Tito with his (genuine) World War 2 guerilla reputation against the Germans held the quarrelsome Yugos together, his STOP was truly followed. After his death, the populists on both sides started heating things up.

    With insurgencies and low-level banditry (NPA, kotong) all over, Philippines has other priorities.

  3. Joe America says:

    This article will take some doing to get all the issues out on the table. Let me start with one that troubles me. I tend to think Federalism is a set of pig’s ears, unless someone can tell me how it will build a strong national presence, governance and capability.

    On parliaments. The PH is an emotional place, with an emotion-loving press. What do you figure the average term for a prime minister would be?

    Or put another way, how many times would President Aquino, had he been prime minister, have been kicked out of office during the past six years. (I’m at six, Hong Kong bus resolution, Taiwan fisherman’s death, Zamboangan siege,DAP, Mamasapano and INC protest.)

    In thinking about that, it is not just the emotionalism. It is the lack of comprehension that, in democracy, one can’t always have it his way . . . and the bitterness of political attacks.

    • When it comes to emotionalism and wanting to have things their way, many Yugos can make even some of the harshest Duterte supporters look like very nice people. Know a few.

      • Joe America says:

        What form of government do they have? By the way, I once dated a tall Czech woman. My gott, but she had opinions. Her father was a real piece of work, escaping from the Russians overland into Germany, getting arrested there, wheedling his way out to Peru, building a life by hook and crook and being a good bullshitter, finding his way to the US (living in swank Mission Viejo and driving a Mercedes), and raising two daughters, both who became doctors. Opinionated ones.

        The old man idolized Alexander the Great.

      • josephivo says:

        I do not recognize the same animosity here. Because a more common history or because there is no competition of regional football teams requiring local hooligans? (But my window on the Philippines might be too narrow.)

        I made the mistake to assume that fault-lines are fault-lines, but the risks they create can be very, very different. So I do support Chempo;s analysis.

        • It was about money in Yugoslavia, is what the poorer states (Serbia, Montenegro) said. Croatia and Slovenia got more money in terms of foreign factories and tourism. This is possible, the latter said the Serbs were dictatorial/communist. It looked like they were getting along well even in the late 1980s when lots of things were changing in Europe, don’t underestimate hidden resentment – we have seen it come up in the Philippines.

    • chempo says:

      You have a point on the ease of removing a PM working against PHilippines because of crab politics here. Elsewhere, this action is taken only in sparingly and in seemingly justifiable situations. But perhaps overtime, political parties can mature, as they must, because the MPs have to answer to consituents directly.

      • Jake says:

        I think what federalism will bring to the PH is more poverty for the poorest provinces/regions. With federalism “imperial Manila” will be granted the right to keep more of its money than sharing it to “freeloading provinces/regions”. ARMM has the lowest HDI and almost reliant on the national government. If the subsidies from “imperial Manila” and other “imperial cities” are gone, how will ARMM fend itself? HDI can be as low as 0.25 and average lifespan is around 40.

        Cental Luzon and Southern Tagalog will be happy because they will keep more of their income

    • Francis says:

      Off the top of my head. On parliaments and PH emotionalism.

      By all means, let the first years under a parliamentary system be chaos. Let the people and (more importantly) clannish and selfish trapos realize the steep learning curve of such a system. The weak parties based solely on personalities will wither without the awesome purse that is presidential patronage that make parties based on weak and impulsive blood and ceremonial-kin relations.

      The people will go away from such weak “brands” of political parties. They’ll go for the “trustworthy” brands. The brands that will be reliable. The brands that will be consistent. The brands that will last for more than one or two elections cycles–and will be of value to the voter-consumer even in between election cycles.

      That is–the parties that actually represent sectors in society. The parties that actually have ideology and principles stemming from the representation of their own constituent sectors in PH society.

      The weak parties will die off. The strong parties (of principle and actually having a voting bloc to represent) will live.

      • Joe America says:

        Fascinating. A self-correcting system. Thanks.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        I’d like to inquire further how exactly will the weak parties wither away.

        • karlgarcia says:

          maybe by not allowing donations,the unfunded will wither?

        • bill in oz says:

          Ahhhh ! An excellent question..The short answer is “It’s Complicated”..AS the elections in Oz last Saturday show, many voters are pissed off with the major parties and voted for minor or independant candidates..

          Brexit the week before demonstrated the same process in the UK.Both major parties ( labor & Conservative asked voters to Remain in the EU. The voters by 51.9% said Leave. And now both those parties are in the process of changing their leaders to reflect the voters attitudes…The parties’ s elites tried to tell people what to do and got shot down..And that is ‘democracy of the people”

        • chempo says:

          Elected MPs have physical presence in their electoral constituency. Opposition patties too have their rep on the ground. They stay connected to the ground doing social work and assist their constituents best they can. This way they know the vibes on the ground and promote their platforms. The party that does not appeal will loose relevance.

          • edgar lores says:

            Serious question: But won’t the patronage culture keep “weak” parties afloat?

            • My take is: as long as Filipinos believe in some sort of patronage and are dependent things will not really change.

              That includes reliance on political saviours of any sort instead of themselves.

            • chempo says:

              Irineo is certainly correct. However patronage is personality based so in Presidential system the populist get elected. In parliamentary system the adoration for one party member does not transcend to all members of that party. So the celebrity candidate continues to get in, but his fellows members may not so his party looses.

        • Francis says:

          Philippine Presidents have awesome powers of patronage. Congress can’t check that because there are no parties strong enough or willing to serve as active opposition. Why? It’s because no one wants to be denied pork–both for their pockets and for the constituents that they serve. Why? It’s because there was no tradition of sustained opposition on ideological terms.

          My layman hypothesis is that this has partly to do with the historical composition of the elite. America is the golden exception (and standard for all presidential system) and me thinks works partly because their elites have always reflected their vast and federal nation of autonomous states–heterogeneous. Hamilton and Jefferson. Democrat and Republican. And everything in between. Ideology doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is a way of life. It’s a vision of utopia. It is a set of ideals that stem from the lives of the people it represents. A group of farmers will produce one ideology and a group of bankers will produce a different one.

          The elite of the Philippines on the other hand have always been relatively homogeneous. We’re a small country. We’re all (mostly) Catholic. A haciendero can easily live the life of the urban socialite and the other way around; impossible for Southern farmer or a Northern banker in America until recent times. That consensus is perfectly demonstrated by accounts of Quezon and Osmena literally have little difference in ideology or policy.

          Relative homogeneity means no ideology. No ideology means no parties defined by ideology. No parties defined by ideology means no strong and independent organization of Congress and yes to parties built around personalities. No strong and independent organization of Congress means that Congress cannot effectively check President, as parties built around personalities can easily be overwhelmed by patronage. Which is harder to bribe? A Bayan Muna guy or the average district congressman? And for what reasons will they take their bribe if ever? Further the “cause” or further the pocket?

          Compare this to the possible situation of the first PH PM. He will retain the patronage of the Presidency. He can appoint Ministers like the President appointed Cabinet members. He can allot some executive funds here and there. Heck, it might be even easier as I’m not sure if Commission on Appointments will even exist at this point. There’s just one catch…

          Say a scandal explodes in this PM’s face. It’s so bad that under the previous presidential system, some ambitious MP might have decided to file a resolution calling for impeachment. Of course, under the old system, this would’ve have been just “pakitang gilas” or just for show as this would have only benefited the lawmaker (making him look “fierce” for higher office) and would have gained no traction as all the President had to do to avoid impeachment would be to wave the pork $$$ and call in his friends from the various parties/factions (everyone knows everyone ’cause everyone’s a turncoat Nacionalista-turned-LAKAS-turned-Liberal, etc.) because our parties are built around personalities and favors. This primarily works there’s due process (a trial) providing a high barrier cost to this ultimate and powerful check to presidential authority that weakly organized Congress can exert.

          But under this new system, all it takes for a government to fall is to pass a vote of no confidence. Just have enough MPs leave PM’s side–no need for the “due process” of an impeachment trial. So that means that Parliament’s ultimate check to PM’s authority would have significantly lower barrier cost compared to Congress’ impeachment procedure. This means that Parliament can assert itself even when weakly organized.

          So this ambitious MP moves a motion for a vote for no-confidence and the PM does what the President used to do. He’ll wave pork $$$ and call in favors from his friends at all those personality-oriented parties, those fluctuating grouping of dynasties and barkadas. Only thing is that maybe, one or more of those clans/barkadas will not follow. Because who knows? Maybe the leaders of those clans/barkadas will realize that the prize is now there for the taking. Maybe one of them will think to themselves, “I can be PM. And all I have to is to withdraw the support of my group, And offer better terms (more pork $$$) to the others…”

          And a government falls. The fear of some is that–given PH political culture–this will result in one-year PMs as vicious factions move around in rapidly fluctuating coalitions. But in this environment lies the seeds of stability. The “weak” parties built solely on blood and friendship will wither. The “strong” parties built on ideology will win because of their reliability. At first, they’ll be king-makers because, despite their small size, they’ll be disciplined, united and with a core base of dependable voters…traits that will make them governments in due time.

          At least, that’s what I think will happen in theory. Anyone living under parliaments please critique.

          • Francis says:

            Addenda: This might help. From the mouth of experts and not this amatuer 🙂

            Click to access 50072.pdf

          • Francis says:

            Addenda: On the homogeneity thing, I can’t be too sure. In hindsight, I may be papering over key splits in PH elite (Filipino First policy, America, etc.) that would reflect their diversity…

          • bill in oz says:

            Francis,,,This is an excellent read..Thank you for writing it…Some comments:
            1: Under a parliamentary democracy the patronage powers of the government leader are much more constrained..They are in office only as long as they have the confidence of the House of Reprentatives..IE a majority..So that means building coalitions and sharing patronage….Alienate your party mates and you are no longer PM…

            2: Patronage is also limited because a key feature of parliamentary democracy is that the heads of the various government departments are full time professional public servants..& not political appointees like here. This also allows the build up of a skilled & informed public service ‘higher echelon’ executive cadre..( Much of Japan’s success is due to this executive cadre who work with whichever party is in government.

            3 In this context parties can be based on ideologies or geography or religion.It does not really matter ‘a priori’ What matters is what the people decide is important organising factor.. In Australia we have had parties emerge based on geography, being based in the country rather than cities …Parties based on small business.Parties based on religious affiliation And parties based on ideology…
            I expect a similar process would happen in the Phlipines under a parliamentary democracy.

          • Bert says:

            Quite convincing, Francis. More of that I think I’ll be convinced and vote for it in a referendum.

          • chempo says:

            Francis, thanks for your contribution.

            “Relative homogeneity means no ideology…” I think this idea has it’s limitations. Homogeneity need not be physical, it exists in the realms of the mind. A pair of identical twins may be discordant in the way they view their surroundings, one may be a humanist, the other a materialist. Japan is truly homogenous and they have evolved with muti-parties of different ideologies.

            “Compare this to the possible situation of the first PH PM” — 3 points you brought up:-
            — “(The PM) appoint Ministers like the President appointed Cabinet members”. — Big difference is that the PM appoints Ministers from his partymates of elected members of parliament. The president can appoint anybody, just like GMA her manicurist. Voting public has no say. PM appointees represent public participation. The appointees are of course the big hats within the winning party who have generally been expected entry to those positions that they have already been enmeshed in or prepared themselves for quite some time. They are no plucked from academia or the business world overnight.
            — “He can allot some executive funds here and there” — The parliamentary system works very differently from the presidential system when it comes to finances. The exchequer or the Finance Minister holds considerable sway, not the PM.
            — “Commission on Appointments” — there is no such authority in a parliamentary system. In Phils this commission is a joke. It’s so politcal and adds no value to the system. You can had a DOJ working for 6 years without confirming the position. In a parliamentary system we have a Civil Service Commission which is responsible for the admin (personnel matters) of the machinery that runs the government. Its apolitical, whose mission is service to the state, not the politicians. Ministers of the the various ministries come and go, but the civil servants remain.

            “…all it takes for a (parliamentary) government to fall is to pass a vote of no confidence…” Opposition party MPs are certainly expected to vote AYE, but what is required is rebel votes within the winning party. So a “no confidence vote” situation is a rebellion withing the ruling party, and it requires a challenger, someone strong enough for members to coalesce around him. That I think is a strength of the parliamentary system.

            “…. a vote for no-confidence and the PM does what the President used to do. He’ll wave pork $$$ and call in favors from his friends…………..Maybe one of them will think to themselves, “I can be PM. And all I have to is to withdraw the support of my group, And offer better terms (more pork $$$) to the others…”. .”
            Firstly there is no pork in the parliamentary system. Secondly, the guy who want to step up to take over has to be :
            1. an MP in the first place (that is, elected by the people)
            2. member of the ruling party — someone from the opposition has no chance because the PM is elected by parliament, which essentially means the ruling party.
            3. There is no pork to play with.
            4. the potential replacement has to be a strong guy — someone accepted by majority members of the ruling party to play the leadership role, and that someone obviously has got to be in sync with constituents’ voices over the issues that caused the downfall of the PM. So there again, indirect public participation in politics.

            I like your pen-ultimate para.

    • purple says:

      Look at Australia if anyone thinks the parliamentary system is stable.

      • Joe America says:

        Yes, I’m reading along and slowly reaching the conclusion that trying to fix the machinery is not as important as fixing the product that goes in and comes out. The machinery is fine. The product of poor quality. The product can be upgraded by passing needed laws, anti-dynasty, new penal code, land use, and holding LGU’s to account for failing to perform. Also education on values and the dangers of drugs.

      • bill in oz says:

        I am extremely happy with the results of the elections last Saturday….

        The Australian people have spoken..And political parties had better learn to listen to the people..Otherwise as i have said many times, we will plant pointy steel boots up the political elites arses..And it hurts as a number of government members of parliament found out…Including my own local member in South Australia

        We say to pollies “you are our servants. You do not govern for the benefit of yourselves or experts or foreigner corporations or the USA or the UN or even ‘boat people’ trying to enter the country illegally..You govern for US.”

        Full stop.

        I suggest that Filipinos watch & listen to see a modern full democracy is action. There is a lot to learn if you wish to.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Arroyo calls for Hybrid Con Con.

    a constitutional convention with members from congress included.

    • chempo says:

      That probably won’t do, it’s unconstitutional. That’s the problem when principles stay fixed no?

      • karlgarcia says:

        They might get a way with it ,because they might insist that it is still con con, they only changed the mechanics or composition.
        If this moves second base,that will show the clout of Arroyo.

    • LG says:

      You bet the hybrid (or not) would step up….Looks like a bandwagon is forming, filling up very early for federalism. Futuristic, drop the priorities earlier established, more fun to work on a ‘new’ one. 😡.😡.😡.

      Congress, for now, seems beholden to #1, YKW (you know who), including GMA?. Arroyo would be PM eligible, under Federalism? Make conviction immunity lifetime?

  5. josephivo says:

    The word “federalism” is confusing. Carving up the land in states unnecessary, as you said coexistence is the rule in the Philippines, indeed.

    But… I private organizations you try to bring decision levels as low as possible. The closer by the problem/opportunity the better the solution, the easier and faster its implementation. Some strategic problems will be specific for top management, so keep them at that level.

    And economies of scale? If lower levels have common grounds, why not. Many low level will share very similar problems with similar solutions, so cooperation in development, procurement, control, you name it, are wise. So a second level of action for the top level is to recognize these and to facilitate the cooperation.

    I would recommend to use the word federalism to revisit the devolution movement with efficiencies in mind and nothing else. To maximize efficiency, delegate to a state level all you can but keep on national level the strategic and coordination activities.

    The table you prepared is impressive and makes any discussion over parliamentary and presidential superfluous, I guess.

    • chempo says:

      I agree with your devolution suggestion. In fact, the institutions that are necessary are already in place. Cory Aquino’s revolutionary govt instituted lots of political and govt structural reforms meant to decentralise power and management to LGUs. I think FVR, Estrada and GMA admin did not complete these missions. Pnoy admin made some moves especially in DILG, moves started by Jesse Robredo and followed up by Mar. The bottom up budget effort was a move in this direction. There are already governors in place. The devolution model could centre around governors to take stewardship of their sphere.

      • Nas Escobar says:

        Yes let’s make haste slowly. It is true that a lot of of reforms had been made by successive administrations specially in the last six years the impact of which are beginning to be felt. It may be that we may eventually change of our form of government but let’s prepare for that by changing the political party system to prevent turncoats, protect the tenure of government professionals from the whims of politicians (permanent undersecretary and reduce positions that are co-terminus with the president, as example). Enact an anti dynasty law. Make LGUs more accountable for the results of their own governance. We’ve never ever heard of any governor or mayor being blamed for the poverty in their province or city. It’s always the President’s fault. Why is that? The majority of poor people are desperate for a change, any change and will likely vote for such without really understanding the consequences down the road. I think waiting a little bit for the minds of people to settle down from the emotions of the last election will give us time and space for reflection. Just my two cents opinion.

        • bill in oz says:

          Hi Nas..More of the same will yield the same I think..

          .And anyway I suspect you have no choice..The new government has it’s policy & it;s agenda…My take on this blog is how to make it a successful change that makes the Philippines a more prosperous, stable& peaceful nation..

  6. Edgar Lores says:

    1. The points presented for and against the political structure and the form of government seem pretty clear at this point.

    1.1. Federalism is bad.
    1.2. Parliamentarism is good.

    2. What should be mapped out first though are the rationale and steps of the process:

    2.1. WHY? Is it really necessary to amend the Constitution?
    2.2. HOW? Con-ass or con-con?
    2.3. WHAT? Should referenda take place first on each main issue?
    2.4. WHEN? When should each step be taken?

    3. I am greatly in favor of the suggestion that the question of Federalism should be submitted to the people first. This will encourage debate.

    3.1. The referendum should also ask about the form of government together with the other major changes proposed to the constitution, such as the economic provisions. Perhaps even as to the method of amending the Constitution. The multi-point referendum will eventually accelerate acceptance of the changes in the plebiscite for the ratification of the new constitution.

    3.1. I am not convinced a change is necessary. However, if the people find it to be advantageous, I prefer the con-con method… so that the turncoats cannot dominate proceedings and simply encode the wishes of the administration.

    4. My assumption is the major steps are a referendum’ followed by the election of con-con delegates; followed by the transition schedule of the changes; followed by the ratification; and ending in implementation.

    4.1. The referendum should coincide with the next national election, which is the barangay election. It is slated for October this year, but there seems to be a push to postpone it. At the very least, the referendum should be postponed after this year to see whether Duterte has kept his promise on law and order. The promise is to eliminate crime and does not include the promise to abolish Congress and to declare a revolutionary government.

    4.2. The transition for the implementation of the changes should be after the term of the current presidential and congressional term.

    • edgar lores says:

      Another thought on the pre-convention referendum:

      As suggested, It should contain a list of all the major changes, each with YES/NO boxes.

      The import of the boxes is to determine the people’s pulse in order to guide the drafters. If for example, the YES votes for an anti-dynasty provision was in the majority, then the drafters cannot renege and must include one in the new constitution.

      • edgar lores says:

        Apart from the political issues of anti-dynasty, anti-turncoatism, etc., I actually would like the multi-point referendum to include the following issues:

        o divorce
        o abortion
        o euthanasia
        o same-sex marriage
        o church taxation
        o drug-use decriminalization

        The first four are part of the D.E.A.T.H campaign of the Church.

    • chempo says:

      Ditto to all points.
      What I’m afraid is the judgemental disability factor. I favour an all out drive to educate on eand sundry.

    • LG, says:

      In theory n principle, I support the democratic steps outlined by EL. However, in practice, i fear the outcome would be similar to BREXIT…the majority voting for federalism, then a steet clamor for a second referendum.

      Should there be mass education about federalism be done prior to the referendum?

      I feel no need to switch from unitary to federalism. But i reckon the poor implementation of the unitary form and the questionable preparation and character of people in government as central issues to the feeling that there is a critical need to change.

      We would be changing presidents every so often under Federalism. With the type of culture we have, likely.


      Revising the 1987 constitution, is all we need, to institute the following:

      1.1. Two party system only. Independent party allowed.
      1.2.. Pres and VP from same party
      1.3. Intraparty debates between potential presidential nominees, followed by interparty debates between presidential candidates. Debates must be in the national language.
      1.4. Intraparty presidential nominees to earn or gain votes of party delegates (could be comprised of mayors). Who has more dekegate votes automatically becomes the party’s official candidate for President.

      1.1. Reform the Barangay.
      1.2. Abolish SK
      1.3. Reform or abolish the Partylist system.
      1.4. Review and reform the functions of the departments/units under each branch of the government.

      1.1. Review for redundancy of mission and functions the DOJ, Ombudsman, Sandigang Bayan n Supreme Court.
      1.2. Review eligibility criteria for candidates of elected and appointed positions. Mere charges should disqualify one to become a candidate.
      1.3. Reform the appeal and bail system of the judiciary. Shorten the process of conviction,
      1.4. Stiffen penalty for crimes. Bail must be skyrocket high.

      Just thinking…

      • Joe America says:

        Superb thinking.

      • bill in oz says:

        LG that is a well thought out program..So start a political party to promote it and seek the support of Filipino people

        • LG says:

          No need for a rocket pol scientist to know what’s wrong with the current system.

          The wrongs are shoved into our throats every second from the barangay level up. You n Joe have manifested such better as foreigner residents than I do as a returnee native. Are such wrongs because of poor unitary system implementation or questionable character of our governors? Probably both, synergizing each other.

          Another wrong fast becoming a MO. Shaming suspects in public. As in naming, uniform stripping law enforcers. Forcing the Walk of Shame in public among drug using suspects.

          A lawyer group is supposedly raising questions about the alarming rate of street killings, etc.. To whom? No word yet again from the SC or SB.

          The PDI editorials has been critical of killings lately. Do paper editorials matter anymore?

          • bill in oz says:

            LG re ” Are such wrongs because of poor unitary system implementation or questionable character of our governors”
            Ask yourself this question : are Filipinos as people bad or worse people than other nations ? The answer is obvious : No !

            But the system allows & encourages dishonest behaviour..It’s normal & common. So my response is “change the system”…And the people will change the way they behave

            • LG says:

              Bill…As in behavior is a function of structure? Cultural structure, maybe, but not political structure.

              My Philippine experience now after being gone for a number of decades is that Skinner’s behavior theory is not generalizable to Filipinos in the Philippines. The home culture has no other culture to adapt to or emulate.

              Maybe, Skinner would apply to Filipinos in other countries where they need to adapt for acceptance by the host culture. It’s not the political structure that drives their behavior. Me think so.

              • bill in oz says:

                LG I do not know Skinner.. Not keen on theorists… I am a historian by nature and that is what IS not which theory should happen..
                I have just been out today doing some shopping, buying a newspaper, having a coffee and getting lunch…All around Quiapo & Binondo , Plaza Miranda, Isetan ; to Juan Luna Blvd via back streets, Ong Pin & Soler..

                During that whole 4 hours I was not cheated or ripped off once..Every single vendor of shop keeper for every transaction charged the stated price and gave me the right change. Ditto at reception of my hotel…And that is standard behaviour by the Filipinos I have met : scrupulous honesty with courtesy a smile…

                But we all know that in certain areas Filipinos are corrupt and steal : politics & government.

                It’s the same ‘culture’ that generates scrupulous honesty in one context and theft in another…But the character of the people is not different..Only the context !!!!!

                So what is the solution ? Clearly change the bloody context; the political system.

                To me this is as obvious as the back of my hand…

                But maybe to Filipinos it is not…Like saying a fish “Let’s change the water”. The fish thinks what’s the water ?

              • LG says:

                Bill in Oz. P.S.

                Skinner’s for Filipinos in other countries does apply, I believe. My personal experiences of our countrymen in some major US and European cities, in general, would bear me out. Pride worthy. Few exceptions.


                Abroad, out bound cues at NAIA are frustrating. Issue of humongous luggages excluded. But, in the US, whether out- or inbound Filipino cue lines are praise worthy… including their mega luggages/boxes!

                On garbage care, driving, parking, grocery shopping, street walking, resto tipping, being a neighbor, etc., Filipino behavior in the home culture remarkably differs from one in a host culture.

                It’s no surprise then, we, Filipinos make excellent ambassadors of goodwill, (👍 partners), well liked abroad. That’s our culture, the best brought and shown outside the country.

                Thank you for sharing your Quiapo day below.

                Yes, most are honest vendors there, will give you discount pa if you ask. But some will deliberately jack up the price for a foreigner :-). They, we, love foreigners, one way or the other. Will oblige to speak in English pa to equalize the business transaction😊.

                So you live in the ‘imperial city’. Mind you, Filipino-inner city-Manila overt (even covert) behavior significantly differs from that of his probinsyano peer; culture of the former not identical to the latter. The former even takes pride in his “differentness”.

            • bill in oz says:

              LG I have met the same courtesy with a smile in Bicol ( Naga & Legaspi ) and in Baguio in the mountains..

              The only significant rip off incident happened at NAIA 1 last year when I arrived for the first time..Why is it that there are no regular taxis immediately outside the exit at the terminal.?
              But dozen or so unmarked cars with folks keen to charge 3-4 times the normal rate ? I assume someone is being paid off ..But once bitten twice shy.It has not happened again.
              Still it was all done with a smile…

              • LG says:

                Ah, the 😊!….It’s congenital, genetic, knows no island boundaries, for foreigners, tourists, weekenders, day trippers not from the same place. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” works, passed as a word of mouth by visitors, not inhabitants.

                There should be bonded p, unmetered taxis outside the NAIA, prepaid at the terminal. Are they gone? I have not been there in a long while.

              • LG says:

                You dicker with these unmarked cabs or cars. But beware of them. Too many bad news happening to arrivals on the road from the airport ☹️. Be you a balikbayan or not. In cabs or private cars. Creative holdaping/car napping, I call it, especially of SUVs n vans. They take the whole vehicle full of big boxes of pasalubongs n your wallet, leave you with change enough to be able to get to your destination. Resisting will get you to the hospital or funeral parlor.

              • Joe America says:

                How is that different from Uber? The price is a cut below Uber, the car is waiting. You dicker with a guy who is authorized to dicker and writes up your receipt for all that he thinks he can get from you, whilst writing up a second one for the real price that he gives to his boss. Hey, who said Filipinos were not entrepreneurial?

          • LG says:

            You praise the poor vendors n many other town folks you have met. The irony of it, it’s the rich or enriched public servants who are not trustworthy. I think neither parliamentarianism nor unitary federalism will elevate their trust rating. They will just work to get rich sooner before they get the vote of no confidence. Not gradually as it happens now,

            To divert…

            By the way, do you think Tony Blair will be charged of something because of the Chilcot Report on the Iraq War? Will the noted war survivors sue their government, after 13 years of anguish?

            • Joe America says:

              Many in the US would have wanted to sue Franklin Roosevelt for getting the US engaged in World War II. And of course, I’d like to sue several presidents for Viet Nam, which substantially kept me from girls and a real job for 2 years 10 months and 22 days, but it is fruitless. How can you blame someone who is accountable FOR THE FUTURE for a past that did not work out right. I don’t doubt that it will be done, but it is not a good precedent.

              • LG says:

                Re. airport taxis. I learned those prepaid taxis I noted no longer exist, long before Uber and
                Grab something came to the scene. But still there are daw yellow taxis for arrivals.

                Re. Suing head of states for wars. I like your argument against.

      • chempo says:

        Everybody has their 2 cents worth, even a road sweeper is entitled to one. You have some good decent points there. I’ll just cherrypick a few:

        A 1.1. Restriction to 2 party system. I think any democracy with imposed restrictions is not a free democracy. Let a thousand parties bloom. As what Francis say above — those with lousy brands will fritter away gradually.
        A 1.2. Yeah stop this ridiculous model. And no excuses — the Amercians stopped voting Pres and VP on a single ticket since late 1800s. The Philippines model has its roots way back in the first commonwealth election. Crab mentality surfaced and the split vote was an arrangement to ease friction between Quezón and Osmeña.
        A 1.4. Political reforms should not go down to the level of micro-managing the parties. They should be left to decide who and how they want to choose.

        B 1.1. Agreed. In fact, I’m for abolishing barangay voting. This should simply be appointed by the municipalities. It’s about administration, not politics or democracy here. In one sweep, lots of pre and post electoral violence eliminated.
        B 1.3. I never understood the party list system. It’s nonsense to me. The reps mostly has nothing to do with what the party stand for. What does Harry Roque share with the ideals of Kabayan Party List? He is a staunch supporter of Binay, so it’sOK to rob the poor that he represents?
        B 1.4. — I’m not so sure. I think existing set up is OK, no need to rock the boat. Sure, review is an ongoing process.

        C. — Agreed, Lots of reforms needed in the judiciary.

  7. madlanglupa says:

    This further validates my belief that federalism may make “crab mentality”, regionalism and ethnocentrism much worse, asides from the possibility that it would give certain political clans massive amounts of feudal power (as if LGUs aren’t independent enough) as they’ll try to gerrymander provinces into states according to their favor.

    (It is not unusual that, whenever I browse the Southeast Asian portion of Google News, often Malaysia’s states are in conflict with the national government regarding policies.)

    But as for the parliamentary system, only the MPs will choose who should be PM, and not by direct popular vote.

    Even then, changing the system and method of government would be a futile gesture if the culture of corruption and patronage is not rooted out first.

    • madlanglupa says:

      Forgot to add re: parliamentary — For a time, Japan had to go through several prime ministers in less than a decade before settling on Shinzo Abe.

      • edgar lores says:

        My sense is that a parliamentary form will entrench a ruling party in government for a long time as what has happened in Singapore and Malaysia. This is the power of incumbency.

        • madlanglupa says:

          Oh, yes, that is another problem. Japan’s LDP comes to mind, and any attempts at toppling it failed.

          • bill in oz says:

            Interesting.But it’s not a problem Madlanlupa…Democracy does not mean regularly changing governments..If a party is successful at generating prosperity for all KEEP it in power !! That has happened in Singapore & Japan..And in Malaysia until about years ago the Barisan Nasional coalition also did a good job..

            Your perspective is too bound to the Philippines experience..

            • edgar lores says:

              Bill, part of Madlanglupa’s and my point is that if a ruling party is entrenched, and if the problem of corruption remains, then we will have a bunch of looters at the top of the pyramid.

              • bill in oz says:

                Edgar, re ” part of Madlanglupa’s and my point is that if a ruling party is entrenched, ”

                I recognise this point…And my counter point remains unanswered..Consider yourself Edgar, you are Flipino and obviously from an educated, reasonably well off background. These past decades you have been in Australia, living in Canberra. How do you behave in that political & economic & cultural environment ? I think you will agree you have changed because of the environment..

                I see the establishment of states as a way of changing the filipino elites in their home areas. I am convinced that the small provinces exist just to maintain local elites..There is no real other elite group in each province to challenge them so they rule forever even i they are idiots and incompetants…

              • edgar lores says:

                Bill, thanks for recognizing the point. I will concede the Oz economic environment has improved my lot and the cultural environment is to my liking, in particular with the friendliness and respect shown by people. But I don’t think Oz politics has changed the essential me. Oh, I admire the political system here and it is closer to the Lincolnesque ideals I cherish… but the ideals were already there before I came here. Well, perhaps you are right in that my political preferences have changed insofar as, say, mandatory and preferential voting are concerned. I concede parliamentarism is superior. But I maintain my doubts as to whether the parliamentary system may be appropriate for the Philippines. It may… but it has to go hand in hand with anti-dynasty, anti-turncoatism and government-funded election laws for example.

              • bill in oz says:

                You know Edgar I think a key factor in the elite psychology is that in the past hardly any of them travel and live/work awhile in another country..Get the feel of how it works and then a feel for how things could be better at home….A holiday in the USA does not cut the mustard …

                Change is needed. Only Filipinos can do that change. Living O S would help though by seeing how others live.

                I have said before that nobody be eligible for standing as a political candidate unless they have lived overseas a while…( even as OFW ) But nobody has replied to that idea..maybe too radical !!

              • Grace Poe was opposed by many precisely because of her outside exposure.

                I can tell you personally Bill… those who have been abroad long and try to come back are pressured to become like everybody else again… my father went through it after more than a decade in Paris, I encountered it on visits home and decided to stay away for good, because I am not a fool I know what the mob can do to you in the Philippines if they want to – it killed fictional Ibarra, real Heneral Luna and I wonder how many more casualties.

              • bill in oz says:

                If your comment about hostility shown to someone returning from exile is true..The truly exile for a while by all of them is the answer ! They sense their weakness from not having tis experience elsewhere..

              • bill in oz says:

                I said “If a party is successful at generating prosperity for all keep it in power !!” A la Lee Kuan You in Singapore..But they turn to ‘freebootery’ they will not be bringing peace stability & prosperity to their fellow citizens…And they will lose their voter support & be surplanted by others…

              • karlgarcia says:

                when in Rome do what the Romans do.I do not think there is pressure to change your value system over night.You are a traveller,you know the difference between living and visting. And when seeing old aquaintances you will naturally get ” you have changed a lot” speech,then the remember when we did….insert something you hate doing,seing or whatever ever again.
                About not liking outsiders worldview, the extreme value system is of course the hospitality and friendliness with visitors maybe until they start complaining.

                Bill, you know what I mean.

              • chempo says:

                Ruling party gets entrenched only when they deliver the goods. Poor parties get elected only because the electorate so wishes. That’s why Bill is wrong in saying fix the system and the people will respond positively. That’s why your judgmental incapacity is such a good prelude to this blog. That’s why I say we need to fix the trinity of people, political structure n govt form concurrently.

              • Joe America says:

                Speaking of political structure. The good news. Senator Lacson is filing a bill to exempt government employees from bank secrecy laws. The bad news, a tweet across my timeline: Steven Rood ‏@StevenRoodPH 1m1 minute ago, #Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue filed 492 tax evasion cases 2010-2016; 81 left Justice Dept.; 0 convictions

              • “when in Rome do what the Romans do.” even if you are from Davao that is for sure.

                I am taking a bit of a break for now… some of my articles have become rants worthy of GRP and AntiPinoy but in the other direction…

                A certain alienation is normal when you have been abroad… one can be more neutral when just travelling to other places… like Erdogans Turkey for example.

                The frustration of people like BongV (antipinoy) or MRP is something I can understand… but that does not lead to anything constructive… MRP is often a broken record.

                Those who live in the Philippines will have to find a common consensus about right and wrong based on their own context… all those abroad can do is give inputs and observe.

              • edgar lores says:

                Irineo, take a break like I did. The distance gives us perspective. Actually, I am beginning to feel I need another breather.

              • “The truly exile for a while by all of them is the answer!” happening for many as of now.

                “They sense their weakness from not having tis experience elsewhere..” Maybe…

                and they may know that unlike a real outsider, you get more of what is happening.

              • bill in oz says:

                Edgar, before you head out, what is your feeling/intuition about the Aussie election results now ?

                I am following the ABC online and ABC24 TV…But that is a very limited perspective..And after 4 months away, I wonder if my gut feelings are on the ball…

                It looks like the next 3 years will be very interesting.

              • Edgar Lores says:

                Bill, I have a feeling the Coalition will sneak through. They will be able to form a majority government without the need for Independent support. But Turnbull is a marked man.

                Keating’s assessment of him has been requoted: “Turnbull is brilliant; he is fearless. But he has no judgment.”

                So, you see, even Turnbull suffers from judgment disability.

            • purple says:

              The Philippines won’t be Singapore or Japan for 100 years. Even this comparison led to the shortcut thinking of voting Duterte.

              • bill in oz says:

                It took People’s Republic of China just 30 years ( 1980 to 2010 )to create a modern, powerful & prosperous China for about 400 million people..( There are still areas in the remote provinces which are dirt poor.)

            • bill in oz says:

              Ahhhhh…He may be a marked man, But here is no other Liberal who could have clawed back enough voter support after Abbot’s blundering for 2 years..

              So any change of leadership back to Abbot or another right wing sectarian will leave them very vulnerable to senate obstruction and blocked legislation..

              That does not mean they will not try..I have been looking at Quadrant online..The voice of the Conservative DelCons..But having ‘ been there done that ‘ with Abbot & Co, a majority of Liberals may decide to stick with the less scary Turnbull.

              Meanwhile in the senate anything could happen…

              And intuitively I feel that this election is one the people can draw satisfaction from..

    • chempo says:

      Your last 2 para.
      PM is not by direct popular vote, but technically elected by Parliament, which actually means by the winning party.
      Yes, nothing’s gonna change with federalism if the trinity of People – Political structure – Form of Govt does not change and improve.

    • LG says:

      I support the premise that changing the system of govt “would be futile if the culture of corruption and patronage is not rooted out first”.

      Do you suggest then Madlanglupa, that if ‘suspected’ drug users, pushers n lords are hunted and killed on resistance, that ‘suspected’ plunderers, corrupt public servants be treated similarly without due process? In fact, some have already been indicted, charged, just awaiting conviction, delayed by bails and appeals, and whatever democratic due process available (the poor drug users n pushers don’t have) to them.

      What should be done NOW with JPE, GMA, the two Estrada son senators, Bong Revilla, the Binay couple n son, Lani Cayetano?…. the list goes on.

      • madlanglupa says:

        It’s so easy to wish, but about the only way to do in a short time is, I’m afraid to say, a Purge or a Cultural Revolution.

        The corrupt will eventually die, jailed or pack and run for “greener pastures” in Panama, the Bahamas or Isle of Man, but realistically, if we must remove corruption, we must first TEACH children what is good and just government without corruption means and how it should be implemented for their generation, without even having to use the now-questionable Sangguniang Kabataan (SK; predecessor is the Marcoses’ Kabataang Barangay or KB) program to supposedly “teach” the youth about governance.

        • The worst case scenario for federalism in a country with entrenched fat dynasties could be a step backward to medieval feudalism and a civil war ala Game of Thrones instead of the American Civil War.

  8. bill in oz says:

    Chempo..An interesting article..Clearly you support parliamentary democracy for a unified Philippines rather than a Federal one.
    .I tend towards supporting a Federal parliamentary system in the Philippines…My reason is simple : I have seen and lived in a Federal system in Australia most of my life..Put simply it works..But in fact we have 3 layers : local government, state & Commonwealth..With each layer having it’s own areas of responsibility and it’s own areas of revenue raising (with the Commonwealth also transfering funds for specific purposes ).

    Your key argument for not having a Federal Philippines is that the Filipino elite will just continue to behave the same in the new states of a Federal system as they have in the unitary presidential system. However I disagree. Change the environment and behaviour changes. Filipinos who migrate to other countries change how they behave to fit in with the new cultural, economic & political environments They even change how they drive for god’s sake !

    How will the ‘states’ change the elite in each state ? Bloody simple : if a state becomes prosperous because of it’s state policies, the local state elite will gain credit and applause and support from their own people !!! If the states become poorer and are mismanaged, the local state elite will lose crediit, applause & support.And affected folks will tend to try and escape by migrating elsewhere.

    The current system has an elite in Manila making decisions for the entire bloody country..even if it is in the Mountains of North Luzon or Bicol or Negros or Samar or Palawan or Mindanao or Jolo etc etc.When fuck ups happen ( as they always will) the local elite in each area, say
    “i wasn’t me that did it, some one else did it” Hat is NO responsibility for what happens…

    Federalism changes that completely Fuck ups by state politicians will be seen as fuck ups by state politicians..And the people can then form their political views and opinions accordingly..The good will be rewarded..The idiots moved on…

    • edgar lores says:


      On the level of governments, the number of layers may be too deep:

      o Federal
      o State
      o Provincial/City
      o Municipality
      o Barangay

      If ever, I would prefer to see 3 levels just like Oz: Federal, State, municipality.

      • bill in oz says:

        Edgar I agree..Abolishing the barangay and province levels is the way to go..These are small and allow local elites to just harvest funds for their own benefit

    • chempo says:

      Bill, one big difference between Australia and Philippines. Responsibility, accountability and people participation can mature the system in the way you described but when you factor in judgmental incapability which is a big issue here, the evolution is unlikely.

      What you are highlighting is responsibility and accountability. It’s a people problem, not so much the machinery. It’s not a matter of time and space. If Luzon state has it’s capital in Bagiuo, Apaari would still be very far away.

      • Another difference, if I may offer, is geographical difference. Australia is a very big continent…Wiki says:

        “List of islands of Australia
        1 New South Wales
        2 Northern Territory
        3 Queensland
        4 South Australia

        4.1 Ocean islands
        4.2 Murray River islands

        5 Tasmania
        6 Victoria

        6.1 River islands

        7 Western Australia
        8 Australian Territories

        8.1 Jervis Bay Territory
        8.2 Australian Capital Territory

        whereas The Philippine archipelago comprises about 7,500 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited.” So that’s around inhabited 5,500 islands compared to a more or less a dozen in OZ.

        PNOY has modernized the Philippine Navy so we can reach each island in case of emergency or for whatever economic purposes. Don’t know what will happen to this modernization in PDu30’s admin. This partially contributes to the little political kingdom that is the reality in our country.

  9. bill in oz says:

    Chempo, I am doubtful about the rankings..
    I have lived in a few of these countries or periods..Ireland went through a huge political storm to get rid of corruption after 2007…And currently has a parliament where independants dominate..

    And I see Argentina is ranked at 124 below Philippines at 98..That is bizarre..Argentina is far better than here in terms of standard of living, economic production and political corruption…

    • edgar lores says:

      Bill, I noted New Zealand was number one. And yet until this year, Kiwis have been migrating to Oz in numbers higher than Ozzies going in the opposite direction across the Tasman Sea. I checked and it seems 15% of the Kiwi population are in Oz, most of them in my state of Queensland. This may be due to the per capita income differential or the welfare benefits?

      • bill in oz says:

        No welfare benefits for Kiwis in Oz Edgar ! ( I think ) But many of the migrating Kiwis are in origin Pacific Islanders and like the warmer weather maybe…There is a big Pacific Islander ‘Kiwi’ community in Qld.

    • madlanglupa says:

      > Argentina is ranked at 124 below

      If I recall correctly, it’s because of the ongoing economic recession and political turmoil.

      • bill in oz says:

        I was in B A’s for 10 weeks in 2014… Traveled a bit. Got to know the locals..Beautiful country; beautiful people.
        Argentina had national elections last year..And a Conservative party has replaced the Kristina Kirchener socialist lead coalition which ruled for 12 years..But even under Kirchener the country was far more prosperous than here with far fewer people living in poverty; fewer homeless, free hospital care, free university study and much better traffic..Fewer unemployed as well…

        That 124 ranking is just plain wrong

        • @bill in oz, looking at the table, it seems that rule of law and regulatory control had managed to really pull down the average score Argentina, thus also the rankings. And looking also at the previous years using the same data source, it seems that there has indeed been a downtrend in the recent years. Probably consistent with what madlanglupa said.

          • bill in oz says:

            I can only report my personal experience..I lived there in San Telmo.. A poor bario of B A’s but not the worst off…It was vastly better off than Quiapo where I am now….Vastly better off than Blumentrit .or Intramuros..

            There are intangibles too..Less crowding,less noise, just a few homeless sleeping in corners at night and no beggars at all.. In fact I cannot remember seeing a beggar there. Here seeing beggars is normal in Quiapo, Binondo, Divisoria, Intramuros.I have been tried on by so many beggars here…It is normal

            A final point : Argentina has virtually no land border controls..Because it is more prosperous than Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Columbia even Chile, Millions have crossed the borders to seek work or a new home; or even simply to give birth in a free hospital or study at a completely free university ..Many of those I saw homeless were such migrants still trying to find a place in their new land.

            Can any of this be said of the Philippines ?

            • nagimasen says:

              don’t even bother to compare with Argentina. most African countries have even higher GDP/capita than the Philippines now

            • Joe America says:

              The point is, the 124 ranking appears not to be wrong. Your criteria and the rating agency criteria differ, so your reasoning comes up with different results. It isn’t a ranking of prosperity or history, history having dealt the Philippines a mighty blow in the realm of poverty, which its current functioning democracy is working to overcome.

              • purple says:

                The Philippines has had better fortune than S Korea and Vietnam post World War 2. It has avoided major wars. It has not had to spend money on expensive weapons systems, being devoid of geo-political enemies.

                The Philippines has failed because of itself and has no one to blame but itself.

                Maybe the disaster of Duterte will finally wake people up, but I doubt it.

                The dirty secret is that too many Filipinos love violence, even killing. Duterte has exposed the country for the world.

              • Joe America says:

                Seems to be the case. Even the educated cheer the blood lust.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Are you basing it on the movies we watch ? I like watching action movies,but I hate seeing violence in the news.

        • Bill Argentina defaulted on it’s debt.

          If on of the Philippine Presidents did this. we wouldn’t have had 20++ years of 60% of the national budget going to debt servicing.

          We wouldn’t have had to sell a lot of the important government infrastructure like TransCo, Manila Water, Maynilad, Privatization of a lot of government facilities etc.

      • bill in oz says:

        There are lies, damned lies and statistics…

    • nagimasen says:

      just like Greece, Argentina doesn’t/cant pay its debt. that maybe the reason of their lower ranking

      • bill in oz says:

        There was a sovereign debt law case dating from 2001 in the US legal system..But it was settled by the new government of President Macri in December 2015..The new government has entered the bond market and been over subscribed..

        • karlgarcia says:

          On a different note they say the Argentina Debt deal only made vulture investors like Kennth Dart (who ever he is)filthy rich.


          • karlgarcia says:

            Funny, Kenneth Dart is from Michigan, and Micha just made a rant about Detroit.
            That city too is recovering from bankruptcy.Who got rich by their misfortune? Michigan vulture investors like Dart?

            • karlgarcia says:

              Bill a ton of questions.

              now this city/municipalty bankruptcies in the states makes me want to question big brother bail outs.


              When bankruptcies happen here when we go federal, do the bankrupt cities ask for a bail out?
              And if they are not bailed out,They will have to borrow money.If they are not worth lending to, how can they recover?


              • bill in oz says:

                Karl Vote buying is illegal under Filipino law….Clean up your police & legal system and stop it !

                In my frank opinion if the police or courts prevent the law from being enforced, they deserve immediate sacking. And replaced with honest ones…Even S C judges…

                Then the loan sharks will not have a market to loan to.. Really simple…..

              • karlgarcia says:

                There will always be legal scammers somewhere like the one who got strucken rich through Argentina’s debt.
                I always wondered where all the money go if the world is in a contagion,it has to go to some one’s bank account.

                Going back to your point.
                yes,lots if things to change first before charter change.

                We love change.
                We must love Duterte.

              • Joe America says:

                Important questions to ask, and have answered by the proponents of Federalism. It is the resistance to supporting the bail out of failed states that is a huge issue for the EU, and shows in very clear terms the kinds of tensions (or bickering) that can occur with Federalism.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes bailouts is one big issue against federalism.

              • bill in oz says:

                Kar ” Yes bailouts is one big issue against federalism.”
                Why Karl ?
                If the Constitution prohibited states making loans over a certain amount without Central bank approval and guarrantee, there is no problem..

              • bill in oz says:

                Joe The EU is not a Federation..It is a messed up concoction unique to Europe..

                And it is the bloody Euro which ‘fails’ Greece, Italy Spain & Portugal…And ‘saves’ Germany..
                Greece does not have it’s own currency to devalue against other currencies..So all the pain has to be worn by lower Euro wages for employees & pensioners in Greece …Ditto Spain, Italy, Portugal.

                I wonder what you would say if the USA was in the same bind…

              • Joe America says:

                The lesson is there, when subordinate states have financial difficulty, the parent entity assumes certain obligations to the people of those states to make their condition whole again. Other states typically object. What does the US have to do with anything? For the Philippines, it is easy to see the condition that Davao would thrive with its trading port and adjacency to vast natural resources, and the people of poor Samar would remain frightfully poor. It is a legitimate concern, and rather than yell at the people voicing the concern, you might articulate a way for Federation to occur that would assure National had the means to take care of poor states through assessments from the rich states. No other country’s history or circumstance is like that of the Philippines. The only solution is that which is self-developed. Why not build something and develop a proper solution for the Philippines? That UNDERSTANDS the Philippines, rather than overlays condescension on the way things are done here.

              • karlgarcia says:

                It is always good if there is no problem.One problem solved another one comes in.
                The Central bank then will have to do more than regulate, will they allow states to fail?
                Now back to bail outs.

          • bill in oz says:

            Yes he made a lot of money buying Argentine sovereign debt in 2005 at 4-5 cents in the dollar.The Argentine government has settled the case paying out at face value…Mega bucks to legal ‘scam artists’…

        • karlgarcia says:

          Rankings are based from governance metrics Bill the per capita /economic metrics has a different ranking.
          and perceptions are in the eyes of the beholder in short it is subjective.
          Who did the measuring,world bank who get its data from the individual countries themselves.

          I am not telling you anything that you do not know.

    • chempo says:

      @ Bill
      The WGI are composite governance indicators based on over 30 underlying data sources. These data sources are rescaled and combined to create the six aggregate indicators using a statistical methodology known as an unobserved components model. A key feature of the methodology is that it generates margins of error for each governance estimate. These margins of error need to be taken into account when making comparisons across countries and over time.

      This is a Worldbank report, I’m not saying they are infallible, but they are incredibly good at this sort of work.

      Argentina used to be relatively good, but over the past few years, it has back-slided terribly. Perhaps the situation is far worse than we think, based on the data coming out.

      • bill in oz says:

        Chempo The last 3 years of President Kirchener were quite bad..With foreign exchange rationed ata pegged below market rate..Kirchener also refused to recognise the authority of the USA courts to rule on the Sovereign debt default of 2001…But that government dd some vey good things which reduced poverty and unemployment greatly…Like the CCT system here and rasng wage rate & enforcing the law with conditions of employment…

        Argentina has it’s own unique history :Oligarchy till 1916; democracy till 1930; Military dictatorship till 1945; Peronista ‘socialist democracy till 1955; military supervised governments till 1973; absolute fusk witted brutal dictatorship till 1982; and finally presidential ( Elected King /Queen ) democracy since 1983 till now with attendant corruption.

        In fact the pattern is similar to the Philippines ..Post 1983 the military were downsized and defunded to protect the nation from more military coups…I think the same happened here in the Philippines.

        But Argentina has a fully developed manufacturing industry and union movement. And so it has the prosperity that these bring…

  10. bill in oz says:

    Chempo re your comment ” If you think existing Philippines law is byzantine, wait till you have State Laws vs Federal Laws. Just watch what is happening in the US. If you think TROs are a pain in your posterior, you ain’t feelin’ nothing yet.”

    I appreciate your point..The justice system is crap..TRO’s are a huge impediment to progress and even getting car license plates..But that is not a reason against Federalism..It is a huge reason for severely reforming the legal system…

    • The only reform recently attempted – the Criminal Code draft by Leila de Lima’s DOJ – languishes in Congress since 2014. To replace the revised version of the 1884 Penal Code, which Rizal already heavily criticized as antedeluvian. So much for Filipino priorities.

    • chempo says:

      I agree the legal crap is not a reason for anti-federalism. I’m say it can only get much worse. It thus becomes one of Edgar’s criterion.

  11. Who is this Intuitiveperspective? Seems like an awesome person… lol. Oh, and Chempo, would you mind if I can ask for a copy of your spreadsheet? I’m particularly interested in the per capita income. But if you could provide the whole spreadsheet, that would be swell. And of course, it would really be appreciated. =D

    As for the planned shift to federalism: If it is without a shift to a parliamentary system, I think it can safely be said that we will surely create much more problems than solutions if ever that happens. But with regards to the urgency of its implementation, I think it is being rushed because of the looming problems with Mindanao. You know, with ISIS and all that. We really do need to have them as friends rather than enemies ASAP. But of course, if we are going to this, we might as well do it properly and minimize the problems by using any available means.

    As for the shift to a parliamentary system, to reiterate what I said on the other federalism post by josephivo, I think this is actually what we really need as of now. As for the problems attached to it, these are probably already existing in the current system that we have and it had just gotten carried over. Nothing we can do about that except deal with it. We’ll probably have no choice by then. And yes, it’ll be chaotic at first as to be expected given that it is a shift in environment. But it would probably fix itself with time as mentioned by Francis’ comment above.

    And with regards to the crab mentality being promoted to state levels, would it not be possible for the central government to ‘regulate’ the behaviors of the state? I think it is in line with what josephivo said in his comment above. To quote:

    “To maximize efficiency, delegate to a state level all you can but keep on national level the strategic and coordination activities.”

    But then again, as said above, federalism is being advocated so that we can give justice to Mindanao. Not just for efficiency. But then again AGAIN, we can actually just consider again the passage of the BBL? I don’t know… Nonetheless, we really must do something about Mindanao. I’ve recently watched a documentary about Bangsamoro and there really does seem to be huge historical injustices done to these people. I guess doing something about this has been a long time coming.

    As for a related video, it is about resource management and how putting it in the hands of the national government rather than the locals can be detrimental rather than beneficial. To copy a comment on the video: Local resource control is done best at a local level.

    • chempo says:

      Firstly, sorry about the name haha, if you could keep it short like IP…joke lang.

      Spreadsheet — no problem. I’ll pass it via Joe.

      I agree about just changing to parliamentary form at the moment — Philippines has too much going on to handle. Adding federalism at this point seems one bite too many. Changing to parliamentary form would be within my “political structure” reform suggestion.

      Re regulating states — Not so easy. Federal and state discource would be as spelt out under the constitution. There will definitely be lots of gray areas to sort out. Josephino’s “To maximize efficiency, delegate to a state level all you can but keep on national level the strategic and coordination activities.” — he is not for federalism. I think he meant this in his devolution scheme, so under present system, more bottom up style to management.

      Ah BBL and Moros — this is one I will shut up.

      Central or local control over resources — I think two heads are better than one for sure. Put a bumb ass or a corrupted guy in locals, you still get shit.

  12. caliphman says:

    Chempo, good piece of work as usual. Regardless of my and everyone elses two cent opinion on which type of government suits the country best, the current completely backwards approach of having Congress or a constitutional convention sort out all these issues even before having a pebiscite on federalism is a primary point which I completely agree with. The main reason why changing the constitution is being considered and planned is because President Duterte has a federalist form of governent on his agenda. Sad to say but ready, fire, aim is the consistent principle underlying almost all the initatives outined by this administration. Having said that, I do not expect a policy of public transparency goes hand in hand with such a principle but all the same it never hurts to point out to the powers that be that before deciding on a solution, its best to ask the public’s opinion on what or if there even is a problem

    • chempo says:

      Thank you Caliphman.
      As usual your legal mind clearly zoom in on the core issue, the “backward approach”. It’s they usual way the Filipino people gets side-stepped.

  13. No one talk about the most important piece of legislation that the Philippines & that is the “Anti Political Dynasty Law”. Very simple common sense these politician will not benefit from it & it will actually cripple them. Anti political dynasty will level the playing field, very important law.
    They are pushing for federalism because they will benefit from it, they are like a hungry wolves & they can smell their prey.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      I agree, James. It will also show that Duterte is serious about his “Tapang at Malasakit” buzzwords during his campaign. Will he be willing to sacrifice his own dynastic stranglehold in Davao for the country and its people?

    • Joe America says:

      Said well, James.

    • Waray-waray says:

      Do all roads now lead to Davao, the “Malacanang of the South”?

      Hotels and flight bookings are fully booked for the past months and in the coming months and years. Investors are scrambling to get a piece of the pie. Good for the people of Davao and Mindanao.

      But, but, is Davao going to be not only the Malacanang of the South but another Makati of the South a la Binays? With Duterte the father as the president, the daughter and the son as the mayor and vice mayor respectively of the Malacanang and soon to be Makati of the South, bring into the mix federalism…

      Tadaaa… – we are going to have a first family much more powerful than the Binays.

      • bill in oz says:

        Best to form the other states quickly so they can organise their own resources, jobs and progress & prosperity, for themselves..A Makati in every state.? Great idea !!

      • LG says:

        Hope not. But could.

        Multibillions are now being invested in Davao. Buy real estate and invest now in infra for pennies. Price goes up tomorrow.

    • LG says:

      Off topic but relevant. Speaking of campaign promises, the Prez said he will EO the FOI, lately, he wants Congress to look into it. Said he, the Prez, will end ‘endo’, lately Bello said it’s not that easy to do that. There’s already allegation that the budget has PDAP in it which Diokno denies (where there’s smoke there might be fire?). They are biting reality soon enough. It’s only been a week after June 30.

      How would the noted scenarios be different in a federal form of government?

    • chempo says:

      @ James
      Anti-dynasty law will never be passed in Philippines under a Presidential system, whether unitary or federal. It’s self-interest, as you said. If ever they pass one, it will be terribly watered down as to render it useless. Just like the Banking Secrecy Law which they crafted in a way to protect the corrupt elites (and which they are now forced to emend due to international pressure).

      Under parliamentary system, you don’t need to pass this law. The party that practices anti-dynasty will get the votes. The party that wants to win, will practice this.

    • caliphman says:

      The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines states in Article II Section 26, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined”. The fact that an anti-dynasty provision is in the Constitution and no congress has enacted enabling legislation to enforce it in nearly thirty years is very telling. It says that unless the political, cultural and socio-economic fabric of of our country changes, the type and structure of our government and whats written in the constitution will not loosen the stranglehold on power and wealth wielded by family dynasties. Whether this is due to the elitist clans wanting to retain power or an electorate predisposed to picking its leaders from family dynasties, shifting to federalist, parliamentary or other forms of government will not change the results significantly. The Duterte dynasty is no different and whether he gives up the family’s reign over Davao will not matter as the vast majority of our political leadership owes their rise to power under similar circumstances be it in a local, provincial or national setting.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        “…whether he gives up the family’s reign over Davao will not matter…”

        I believe it will. I cannot underestimate the power of leadership by example. I believe if he does, those who want to get rid of PH dynasties and his supporters will pressure others to toe the line. Am I overestimating Filipinos’ fortitude?

      • chempo says:

        Absolutely right. That’s why I insist on change with the trinity concurrently. Of cos juana is right on leading by example. These leaders have the moral authority to preach such as Jesus, Ghandi, Pope Francis, Prince Gauthama et

        • Caliphman says:

          I disagree. Its all nice and good to say Duterte should follow the path of Ghandi, Christ,etc. but even in the remote possibility that he does, to believe that other dynasties will follow his example is wishful thinking given the record and nature of Philippine politics.To state otherwise against the weight of historical evidence going back to the first Republic in Malolos, one should present convincing arguments as to why such a sudden and radical change would now occur.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            I present you with technology as an argument. Social media, traditional media and the Internet produced the sudden and radical change we are now experiencing in PH’s political and social climate. Duterte won because of a campaign strategy akin to technological blitzkrieg. Sudden and radical changes are here. They will be the new normal. Like he promised, “Change is coming.” I rest my case. 🙂

            • caliphman says:

              Sorry Juana. The internet like all technologies are just mere tools. Its the message and not the tools used to transmit it that can persuade society to change. Its good you are putting your case and arguments to rest which is where they belong. Requeiscat in pace.

          • chempo says:

            Ca;liphman, you’re taking it a step too far. I’m just saying leaders with high moral standards have the moral authority to lead by examples. But of course it does not mean a continuum will automatically follow. One can only hope a trickle down effect of moral values.

  14. nagimasen says:

    its not the form of govt, its the people who make up the govt that makes the difference.

    I submit federalism is not the answer but maybe more autonomous local govt units like in the USA. counties in CA can practically do all the govt powers vested in the state like education, public safety, public health, justice, etc. the only thing you deal with state govt on a regular basis is the Dept of Motor Vehicles and for the Federal Govt, the IRS.

    with our culture, a strong central govt is still the key, whether more autonomy for local govt units or federal system. a central govt should be able to override local/state govts if it is detrimental to national objectives. as of now, a local bureaucrat can torpedoe national govt policies like mining or reproductive health.

  15. nagimasen says:

    Palawan, with its share of IRA and the natural gas revenue is still one of the most dependent LGUs.

    that should be a warning to federal advocates that federalism wont solve all our problems.

    • bill in oz says:

      Ahhhh A perfect example ! Palwan has rich natural resources buit is not allowed benefit from that resource because the benefits are harvested by the Filipino government….

      If Palawan was it’s own state it could be as rich & prosperous as Brunei…

      • Joe America says:

        And the residents of Samar would be eating salt on their rice and living in bamboo shacks, praying the next typhoon goes to Palawan instead of Samar.

        • bill in oz says:

          Joe I agree with you…But maybe a prosperous Palawan would attract migrants from Samar to work there..As Brunei does ….

          The more important point is that the process whereby the rich resources of Palwan are ‘socialised’ by the central government in Manila, goes unacknowledged and hidden.

          Played out nationally there is bugger all incentive to succeed.and prosper at the state/ regional level…because Maniia will ‘harvest’ the benefits…

          • bill in oz says:

            Another example : in the 19th century ( 1820-180’s for you ) Bicol was the world major producer of abacca..It was a major industry..But it was exported via Manila ( manila hemp ) And the riches stayed in Manila..The abacca industry collapsed in the 1930’s.. And Biol was fundamentally the same as in 1830 : dead poor and undeveloped.In many ways it still is now.

            • bill in oz says:

              Another example : the coconut industry..They are grown across the whole nation ..But who harvests most of the benefits ? The Manila government..The Marcos ‘Coco levy’ grand theft is just a more blatant example….And poor bloody peasants cannot even chop down their trees and plant a different crop because it might hurt the coconut ‘export industry’..( ie tax harvesting ) .based in Manila of course

            • Bert says:

              Not true.

              The abaca industry collapsed because of the onset of the production of plastic rope, how can abaca compete with that?

              There is absolutely no need to chop down productive coconuts. You and your girlfriend, Bill, are not prevented from planting any different crop all you want in your girlfriend’s land and the coconuts will not stand in your way. Or the government.

              If you cannot plant a different crop in your land, please don’t blame the coconut or the government. Blame yourself.

              • bill in oz says:

                Hi Bert.I wondered if you jump in here….My reading of The Bicol Blend on Bicol & the Abacca industry 1820-1940’s says it started collapsing in the 1910’s and was finished off by the great depression.Main reason : sailing ships were replaced by steam worldwide. Plastic came later in the 1960’s I think…

                RE Coconut trees..Talk to Giancarlo..he can cite the very 1996 act of Congress that prohibits the cutting down of coconut trees without a permit and 15 peso payment per tree cut down…Maybe now the law is not being enforced..But I surely would not draw attention to myself by bulldozing old coconut trees…Expats are too vulnerable to do that Bert..

                But I hope you appreciate my point about Bicol not significantly benefiting from the abacca industry..Almost all the benefits stayed in Mania..Again ‘the Bicol Blend’ book is my source.

              • Bert says:

                Keep your book, Bill. I grew up with the abaca in Bicol and it was very good business there then, until the plastic rope killed it.

                I grew up with coconut, too. I will appreciate it if giancarlo can enlighten me on things about coconut I still don’t know.

                The point here is that you want to plant a different crop on your girlfriend’s land, yes? Why can’t you just do it without blaming or bulldozing the coconuts?

          • Joe America says:

            There are a couple of issues here. My objection to Federalism is that it invariably makes rich and poor states, and national gets criticized no matter what national does to try to take care of poor people. In your scenario, the poor of Samar would become the servant class of Palawan, a very distasteful proposition that proper allocation of wealth (by national) would prevent. Second, Palawan would likely not itself have the financial wherewithal to drill for the natural gas, meaning that it would have to either borrow or sell rights to whom, china? to do the drilling. National government has the financial strength to do projects such as expressways and railways that a region cannot afford.

            • bill in oz says:

              There are no expressways or railways in Palwan Joe…

              I thought you are free enterprise man..But what you are supporting here is the national government ( and thus the Manila elite ) socialising the resources of regions and impoverishing the actual regions where the natural resources exist….

              Isn’t that ‘unamerican’ ?

              • Joe America says:

                I’m an Obama democratic who believes that, if we leave things to free enterprise, a lot of people get left behind. I could support Federalism if someone could explain how it would strengthen the National government and enhance people’s feelings of trust and confidence in their government and nation, plus empower national to do the major infrastructure and defense investments that are needed. I think the PH is already federalized to warlord states and LGU’s and they do a really shitty job of managing things for the well-being of their citizens. I’d rather have the talented people at the center so their talents can be leveraged out, because I don’t think there are that many really talented people in the LGU’s. Some of the initiatives underway by the Aquino Admin were aimed at changing this.

              • bill in oz says:

                I feel I am lecturing you..Sorry..But you have lost the balance here..
                Vis a Vis the USA I think that Obama & Clinton have not done enough…( or Bush for that matter but he never even tried or wanted to try to even things out )

                Re Philippines, the central government is Manila and it’s elites..The resources of the regions are harvested for the benefit of the Manila based elite..So what point is there of locals in the regions trying ? Better to move to Manila where the action is ehh ?

                Ahhh well I guess Duterte will change that.Federalism is high on his agenda and the Manila elite will have to adapt to that change..’Coming ready or not’.

                By the way what would Texas be if Washington had tried to harvest taxed all the benefits of the oil & gas industries in the 1900-1950’s ? I suggest the Lone Star state would have gone it’s own way separate from the USA. Texans are pretty rugged individualists.They do not take bull from anyone even well meaning Democrats…

              • Joe America says:

                I have only lost my balance in regard to your opinions, which are opinions only and not the final defining judgment for all of mankind.

              • Joe America says:

                Bill Clinton is highly regarded as a president and criticized mainly for his personal dalliance. Obama did nothing but right the economic collapse of 2008 on the strength of his reasonable voice. Then he set out to try to make people’s lives better through things like Obama Care. He did this in a democratic state, not a dictatorial one, where partisan venom makes getting anything constructive done difficult, even passing a budget or getting a new supreme court justice appointed. Bush was caught by 9/11 and things went south from there.

                As for the elitism of Manila, I think you need to do some study to see where wealth is really developed and how it is distributed to the regions, most of which are dirt poor. The whole idea of Imperial Manila is myth, but I doubt you would take my word for it. So best you discover for yourself. Start with the DBM web site and find the taxes, expenses, and allocations to the various cities.

                Federalism has a long way to go before it is implemented. That particular change has to be voted on.

                What-ifs on history are largely fruitless. History is done, and none of us was around then to debate the subject, so we are largely ignorant about it and just slopping paint on the canvas with a big brush.

              • chempo says:

                Bill you cannot cost-justify an expressway or railway in Palawan
                The govt promotes the underwater river of Palawan as the 8th wonder of the world, helps bring in lots of local and foreign tourists. It’s being promoted as a serious tourist destination. Several hoteliers moved in there last few years. Robinsons, plus a 5star hotelier from Singapore in one of the islands north of Palawan tip.
                Airport has been revamped.
                The last time I went there, they were doing a lot of road resurfacing works. Much has been completed by now.

            • Doc' & CJ says:

              @Joe & Bill,

              “Balance”??? Damned if I can find any balance in most of what is said around here! Seems to me there’s a helluva lot’a mixture of opposing views and ideologies coming out of both sides of the mouth! Now I’ll admit, I aint the sharpest knife in the box, but I can’t recall EVER having so much trouble trying to figure out left from right or up from down! The minute I start thinking I’m kinda getting a grip on things around here, somebody comes along and shatters my illusions! If I wasn’t crazy when I got here, I’m damned sure apt to be before I leave! I feel like I’ve entered a political Twilight Zone from which there is no return!

              Taking all of that into consideration, I’m pretty sure I’m fixin’ to do two things:

              1. Show my ignorance.
              2. Piss everybody off.

              First, I reckon PH already has a perfectly functional form of government in place, it’s the implementation of it that has very serious problems. Adding any additional bureaucracies or scrapping the whole system in favor of a completely new or highly modified version is literally insane and would inevitably only lead to a repeat of the same situation that exists today (or worse) until the primary dysfunction of failed implementation is fixed in the first place. Besides that, does anybody really believe PH could actually sustain a complete reformation of the political system? That’s a pipe-dream that is doomed to fail before it even got started. If the objective is to actually IMPROVE the nation as a whole, ya gotta face facts and actually DO what must be done. NONE of it will be easy, and it damned sure aint gonna happen quickly!

              As bad as I hate to admit it, maybe Duterte has the right (albeit very extreme) idea when it comes to corruption in government and public service. I’m pretty sure if ya publicly execute a few of those bastards for treason, you’d see a swift change in attitudes take place across the board! Now I’m not advocating that the government should be the one’s conducting public executions, but I do think it should be THE PEOPLE themselves who administer justice. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? “We The People” ARE the government and high treason is a crime punishable by death is it not? (I assume the PH Constitution allows it?) I’m also pretty sure it is this kind of shared frustration and anger that got Duterte elected in the first place, both “sides” are fed up and everyone is sick and tired of being victimized while the “elites” among them get NOTHING done and deny the citizenry the rights and privileges they are entitled to under the law. Yea, I’m sure I’m not winning any friends by saying this, but damnit the existing system is a literal quagmire that hasn’t produced many positive results! Furthermore, I smell revolution in the wind. What then dear friends? What then?

              “Human rights” you say? “Civilization” you cry? “Rule of law” you profess? Tell that to the millions in PH who have no shoes to wear and go to bed hungry in the slums of Manila or Davao every single night.

              I know I’m offering no solutions here, I truly wish I could. But hopefully I’ve just said a few things that many others are unable or unwilling to say for themselves. At a minimum, I have expressed my own thoughts on the matter which leaves me wondering if “tolerance” and “equal rights” will still apply to dissenting points of view. I have plenty more to say, but I reckon I’ll leave it right there for now and see what shakes out.


              • Joe America says:

                Superb shaking of the tree. I agree with you on the problem not being the form of government, but how it is run. As to human rights and elite, I also agree with the description of the poor vs the elite, but disagree as to the need for radical change and abridgment of basic human or democratic rights to get there, like the right to trial before being declared guilty or shot. I think the PH government during the past 6 years has made tremendous progress toward building a stable and richer nation. It didn’t communicate very well the challenges or the issues, I think, and the audience is not of a mind itself to be introspective or even informed. The depth of poverty is immense, the cure a 25 year job, of which 6 have been done.

                I view the undermining of civility a step in the wrong direction. If this also goes toward how government is managed (trapo [self-serving] rather than executive/service oriented), or the sovereign rights of the Philippines are peddled for a railway, I’d say that is also the wrong direction. So is Federalism, I think. The PH has never been a true nation, in an integrated, patriotic sense, and I can’t see how chopping it up is going to build that.

              • josephivo says:

                As I said before, there are 3 levels. First is the visible level of facts and things, the drugs, the addicts, the guns. Then there is the underlying process level, the demand / supply mechanism, the money flows, the marketing. But all these processes do not fall out of the blue, they are the result of thoughts, human behavior, culture.

                This means that also 3 levels of action are possible:
                – One is to address the event level, one to address the processes and one to address the deep though level. Shoot the dealers, burn confiscated drugs, jail the addicts. The first level actions can only be cosmetic as they do not change the underlying processes. They are fast, very visible and easy to understand, based on verifiable facts.
                – The second level is to try to break the processes, hinder the money flows, influence the demand by supplying alternative, safer addictions, influence the supply by organizing, legalizing, trace raw material flows. This is much more difficult, slower, results based on statistics but 10 times more effective,
                – Third,10 times more value for money. And again 10 times more effective is working at the 3e level. Neighborhood development, jobs and decent incomes for all, appreciation of less immediate satisfiers, healthy mind in a healthy body. This takes long time, is soft, difficult proof cause effects and impossible to sell to the masses.

                The same for poverty reduction, where there is evidence that you cannot reeducate the poor into productive citizens (a black and white statement for the purpose of clarity). But as poverty is inherited, you can break the inheritance mechanism: feeding programs for the first 1000 days after conception, pre-schooling assistance, education, free health care for kids, apprentice programs.

                Same for government effectiveness. Change systems presidential/parliamentarian. Change processes as inheritance of political positions. Change the mentality of the voters, you are the boss, wang-wang behavior is unacceptable.

                The previous administration was more active on the deeper levels. Du30 wants to see things, moves attention to the visible level. A good approach has clear measurable actions on all 3 levels.

              • LG says:

                DOC….Exactly my sentiments briefly expressed earlier. Yours read better, prosaic.

                Following the entries, plenty of us on the RETAIN (Unitary) or NO (to Federalism) side. Each has his/her unique expression of their NO view. Fun way to learn,

              • Doc' & CJ says:


                Thank you one and all for your thoughtful comments and input, and my apologies for a delayed reply. Life in general, and circumstance contribute to the delay. I very much want to continue and expand this conversation and I don’t want ya’ll to think I was being neglectful. I’m just not feeling well today so please excuse me until I can get back to you in proper form. I very much appreciate your patience and consideration.

                Thank you,

      • chempo says:

        @ Bill, nagimasen
        “..If Palawan was it’s own state it could be as rich & prosperous as Brunei…”

        Not so fast Bill.
        Do you know who has his freaking hand in almost every sector of the economy in Palawan? The govenor, that’s right. I won’t mention names. He was grilled by Winnie Monsod on TV interview not too long ago. He was not standing for election for national post, it was dumbass for him to agree to be interviewed. If you want to do construction biz, you get pay loader drivers, he is the guy to supply you. You want gravel, he is the guy to supply you. Money from the gas fields? Dont know where it went.

        The richness of Palawan is not harvested by the govt. It’s big leakage at local levels. That’s why local election is killing time. How can federalism solve this? Guys like him will have one less layer to answer to.

        • @ chempo…that’s true in every cities, municipalities in the whole Philippine archipelago. Pasig, Makati (branching out even at the national level where Binay company supplied security guards for Pag-ibig offices) and elsewhere. Name any need, the Binay controlled companies will supply it. Abby is nursing the mayorship right now, Binay will return to the position, I think while Abby could return to HOR post being nursed by husband…


      • DAgimas says:

        they get their share from the gas fields. the only province to have that benefit. so I am surprised why they are still very dependent on the IRA.

        yes if they are sovereign, they could be like Brunei..just don’t know if they can produce so much gas like Brunei does

        • DAgimas says:

          when I visited the underground river in Palawan, I made the mistake of asking why it is only recently that the road to the river was paved when they have their share of the gas royalty and the tour guide said Puerto Princesa doesn’t get a share, its the province of Palawan that gets all the royalty. so there, with their IRA and share of the royalty, without even responsible for the city of Puerto Princesa (highly urbanized), they are still very dependent of IRA?

          • Joe America says:

            My tour guide – maybe 3 years ago – said the roads were not completed because they ran out of money because of corruption. I had read at the time that infrastructure projects in Palawan were assigned out to different (favored) companies at P20 million a pop, and it wasn’t the most efficient way to get work done. But the trek through the jungle on a dirt road section lent a bit of “survivalist” atmosphere to the tour. The cave itself was kinda fun, what with the Disney Jungle Cruise banter from the boatman, the bats, the rock formations that looked like Edgar Lores, and the never-ending dark. I shared my son’s feelings about the matter when, about 15 minutes in, he asked, “Dad, when are we gonna get out of here?”

            • Edgar Lores says:

              Gadzooks! Is there an equivalent of Mount Rushmore for bloggers in the Palawan caves?

              • Joe America says:

                Well, the main part of the tour was pointing out what all the stalactites and stalagmites looked like. There were a lot of them and I figure you were in there somewhere. I might have dozed off part way on the tour.

            • DAgimas says:

              you maybe right but funding came not from the royalty Palawan gets but from the city coffers or from the PDAF of their congressman

            • “I had read at the time that infrastructure projects in Palawan were assigned out to different (favored) companies at P20 million a pop, and it wasn’t the most efficient way to get work done.” – Joe

              My goodness….so that’s why some infrastructure projects are curiously stopped in the middle of a certain stretch…could be all businessmen contractors are given chances, can’t antagonize any one of them since their seat is barely warmed, 3 years is over and election time is on again…why can’t we have 6-year terms with no re-election be the norm for Congressmen and local officials? If Presidents’ term can be limited in such manner, why can’t senators, congressmen and local officials be subjected to the same term limitation? Are they sacred cows or what?

              I suggest we change the Local Tax Code and the corresponding Constitutional provisions, to avoid this form of national and local self flagellation.

              But then, I guess, our beloved legislators will not act against their self interests.


        • caliphman says:

          Palawan is also the site of the two largest nickel mines in the Philippines that generate a ton of export revenue from Japan and China. The Philippines is the world”s leading producer of nickel All that revenue has enriched corporate coffers, generated national taxes which Palawan has not proportionately shared in, and allowed local corrupt politicians to wallow in wealth. Whats called for here is a fairer tax retention and spending allocaion for the province and not ramming a murky concept of federalism down everyone’s throat.

          • DAgimas says:

            they get a fair share of whatever minerals are extracted from their jurisdiction. they get also royalty of the gas fields but they are still very dependent of the IRA. compared that with the rice producing provinces. they are also dependent but at least they don’t get royalties.

          • bill in oz says:

            Curious..In Western Australia, nickel mines have been closed because the price received per ton of ore is to low.

            • caliphman says:

              Its about the cost of extraction. Its like crude oil, if it costs more than the market

              • One of my friends used to work there.

                The top soil was nickel rich enough to be export grade, no processing involved just put it in a ship and send to where they process it.

              • bill in oz says:

                Yes the mines I am thinking about were high grade ore but 700 ks inland..A major added cost..But digging ore in the desert where no on lives may be a better than mining in Palawan where the population is higher & tourism a major industry..But we will all see..

            • caliphman says:

              If the ore costs more than the market is willing to pay for it, its better to keep the ore in the ground. The Palawan mines exploit very rich high grade ore deposits that are are easily accessible, in other words the Philippines is the low cost producer. The biggest consumer of nickel ore is China where it is used as a steel alloy in their massive infrastructure and construction boom. World prices soared when Russia and Indonesia withdrew as major nickel exporters and the Philippines was able to expand production to meet expanding Chinese demand. With the Chinese economy sputtering, demand and prices are down as should be expected.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes,China consumes 50 % of the world’s nickel production

              • karlgarcia says:

                No wonder they wanted to lease PH agri lands, they consume 30 % of the rice production.
                Indochina’s production may not be enough to feed them and they want more.

  16. Filipinos are different breed of people, some system that works in other countries will not work in the Philippines unless we change the way we breed our children.

  17. NHerrera says:


    Beautifully and simply stated, and if I may use a word from Joe (Editor’s Note), comprehensive.

    And chempo, if you will be so kind, if that table of countries, form of gov index, and per cap income is in the form of Excel spreadsheet, can you kindly send it to me through Joe. I would like to do something with the data and post it here. Thanks.

    • chempo says:

      Thanks NHerera, you’re the 2nd person to ask for it.
      Will send via Joe tom.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Manong NH,
      There is a question for you.I am also intersted.

      It is when we tend to remember positive correlations and forget the bad ones….

      It is chempo’s question which I attempted to answer in vain.

      • NHerrera says:


        It is when we tend to remember positive correlations and forget the bad ones….

        This is probably a question the trained or professional psychologist has a better handle on. But here is a thought: as we go through life, even if we are not vain, we somehow relish the thoughts of positive developments happening to us, and of course do not relish the negative developments. So the part of the brain that stores these bits of information re-enforces these positive ones.

        But if we are professionals or critical thinkers, we may just recall the negative developments for the lessons that we can learn from those negative ones. So, I really don’t know whether our recall is generally better with positive developments or positive correlations.

        To the mathematicians, for example, bad turns that do not bring immediate solutions to a festering problem may, as a counter example, be recalled or retraced to see the lessons that can be learned and in so doing eventually solve that festering problem. So in this example the negative development in the solution — and this negative development may occur at a considerable time period — may be recalled better than the brilliant solutions that that mathematician may have done for other problems but with less efforts.

        That is a rather rambling answer to your simple question.


  18. chempo says:

    @ Joe

    Somewhere in the long thread above, you hit a big nail on the head on federalism. That thread got too long, so I respond here.

    You said ” For the Philippines, it is easy to see the condition that Davao would thrive with its trading port and adjacency to vast natural resources, and the people of poor Samar would remain frightfully poor”
    I did’nt want to get too much into the economics in the article, so I left this out. You are absolutely right. And that is the reason lots of federalism noises comes out from Mindanao. When they cut the land, they have to make sure that the core areas have the economic mass to survive. It’s not going to be easy. Pimentel’s division has the NCR basically as a separate state. If this happens, NCR residents will be laughing all the way to the bank. NCR will be like Makati city, flushed with funds.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, balancing the natural economic inequity needs to be addressed in the Federation proposal. That and a weakening of National are my two big bugaboos.

    • josephivo says:

      Is it all zero sum? Can it be that locals can do more with less, apply better targeted medicines, reduced leakages? Can it be that new business opportunities are created? What will be the financial value of a stronger sense of belonging, of a stronger “we can do” mentality?

      But…In Flanders the battle cry to split the country was: “What we do by ourselves, we can do better”. In some areas this was true, but basically the administration costs stayed the same as in the non-federal era. Less “solidarity” money was sent to Wallonia in the south. This resulted in more start-ups there, more new initiatives than in Flanders and they are catching up. (The capital area Brussels in the middle is wealthy, but a separate case with lots of international institutions, EU, Nato, Eurocontrol… , a lot of international headquarters, lobby industry and an extreme high influx of daily commuters (360,000, on a population of a million))

      • chempo says:

        Joesphino, I’m more convinced than ever its more a people problem. The right kind of people can make any system work. But an appropriate system can greatly facilitate the people. But deficit people can’t work in any system.

        • That bad? 😦

          I hope not.

        • bill in oz says:

          Re-posting this as it is relevant especially to your comment Chempo

          bill in oz says:
          July 6, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          LG I do not know Skinner.. Not keen on theorists… I am a historian by nature and that is what IS rather than which theory should happen..
          I have just been out today doing some shopping, buying a newspaper, having a coffee and getting lunch…All around Quiapo & Binondo , Plaza Miranda, Isetan ; to Juan Luna Blvd via back streets, Ong Pin & Soler..

          During that whole 4 hours I was not cheated or ripped off once..Every single vendor of shop keeper for every transaction charged the usual price ( no skin tax ) and gave me the right change. Ditto at reception of my hotel…And that is standard behaviour by the Filipinos I have met : scrupulous honesty with courtesy a smile…

          But we all know that in certain areas Filipinos are corrupt and steal : politics & government.

          So the same ‘culture’ generates scrupulous honesty in one context and theft in another…But the character of the people is not different..Only the context !!!!!

          So what is the solution ? Clearly change the bloody context; the political system.

          To me this is as obvious as the back of my hand…

          But maybe to Filipinos it is not…Like saying to a fish “Let’s change the water”. The fish thinks “what’s the water ?”

          • I have likened Philippine government and politics to a mangrove swamp before.

            • bill in oz says:

              Pretty oozey, slimey place to be….Everybody ( the good, the bad and the indifferent ) get covered in mud..Better to move Philippines government & politics to a better location

          • chempo says:

            I hear you bill. What you are applying is I kind of cognitive bias. Gamblers know the probably of a coin turning up heads is 50% yet we can have a situation where the next 10 throws can all turn up heads.
            I’m certainly not saying Filipinos are bad. They are like folks everywhere, with the good the bad n the ugly. We are relating only to their voting responsibilities discharged in ways that baffle us.

        • LG says:

          Chempo, your 7/6/16, 6:35 pm entry reflects my sentiments earlier expressed…It’s the people, not the system.

  19. LG says:

    Well done, Chempo. A+ paper👍

    Because of it, am better enlightened on the subject and issues. Arguments, clearly supported.

  20. Sup says:

    This is how it goes……………..
    The difference between high ranking police and John Doe’s
    The Generals did earn millions and will be dismissed
    The John Doe’s family’s will be told ”he did resist”
    And for his relatives forever he will be missed……..

  21. bill in oz says:

    Let’s hope that this entire conversation has been scooped by folks in Duterte’s inner circle..For the benefit of the whole country..

  22. bill in oz says:

    Joe, you said that a post on Globalisation would be good..Here is a column from Buenos Aires Herald by a journalist based there …Interesting


  23. manilamac says:

    I’m an unknown commenter here. Since I edit books for a part of my living, my limited “free” keyboard time generally keeps me from all but the main post—as much as I’m a detail maven, I just don’t usually have time. For the last couple of years, however, I’ve been editing a book for a client about making an Article V change to the US Constitution & felt compelled—both by my editorial project & my concern for the Philippines (where I’ve lived over 30yrs now)—to read this one in full. (Took hours, since as usual, I was late to the party.) Though I fully understand that the devil’s in the detail, after all that reading & absorption, I want to share what’s little more than a few fairly-well-informed gut reactions.

    First, to paraphrase an old US election point, “It’s the inequality, stupid!” Worldwide, political, financial & technical elites have feathered their own beds in their methods of adopting neoliberal economic philosophy. The inequality of the results have literally been killing. The anger available to empower demagogues & buffoons is, for my lifetime, at an all-time high. Trust in any but the most visceral solutions has never been lower & “experts” & “intellectuals” must take care to avoid lunch-mobs. “Elites” vs. “Ordinary People.” This highly polarized environment is not necessarily the best soil in which to nurture constitutional change, but the seeds have been broadcast & there we jolly well are, aren’t we?

    I have 2 main points: 1) constitutional revision is (or can be) a good thing, & 2) the best constitutions are grown & nourished rather than rebuilt from the wreckage. A case in point might be our present “anti-martial-law” constitution. What if the whole Marcos era were to be written off (rather like Cromwell’s was in Britain) & the 1935 Constitution first reinstated, then revised & the legal code brought up-to-date absent all those Marcos proclamations & executive orders?

    My 1st point about revision being good is primarily about establishing, as constitutional right, those very things we despair of ever seeing Congress change: anti-dynasty; campaign financing; meaningful, delay-free FOI; *real* financial transparency of gov’t officials—I’m sure there are healthy debates in the wings about several other related issues. In a revised constitution, elements of the Local Gov’t Code could be enshrined or excluded, the central gov’t’s relationship to the various LGU levels framed into more rational terms.

    I’m certainly not keen on federalism, but think it might be a good idea to draw some regional lines & use them for senatorial districts. The Senate as we know it—elected at large—has in itself become a poorer & poorer joke. But you see, this is the 21st century & *nobody* is looking out for any particular province or region in terms of international affairs in the very “deliberative body” that the Senate is charged to be. Representatives for the districts, Senators for regions. Better than a poke in the eye w/ a sharp stick when it comes to dealing with Globalization, if you ask me.

    I’m far from convinced that Filipino voters can, today, be educated in the questions of federal or parliamentary systems in any very meaningful way. (Look at all the unresolved debates on this page alone—saying nothing about the degree of background & study required to evaluate or substantiate the various advocacies.) That’s no reflection on Filipino mental prowess. Brexit—which may end up being a case of burning down the house for want of closet space—was not a case of the Brits being stupid. It was a symptom of this age of noise. People vote their gut & angry people will vote for whatever stokes their anger at the most visceral level.

    I am not a status quo kind of person. The day may come when federalism and/or parliamentary forms could be just the ticket. I’ve had to study a great deal about constitutional change these past years. I’m in pretty good company (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin) when I say constitutions should be revised—often. There’s no reason to believe changing this constitution now means we won’t change it again later—including to other forms of gov’t. (Maybe, cha-cha debates could be started every 10yrs & submitted for referendum every 20.)

    But here’s the thing. In terms of leadership, the Philippines has a pretty shallow bench. (Consider LGUs & public service, for instance.) Dynastic politics—patronage politics—has kept things that way. Money, power & territory filter out much of the country’s leadership potential.

    This is precisely why con-con is *much* better than con-ass. (BTW, it seems to have gone unmentioned, but Article XVII allows, on a simple majority vote, to hold a referendum on whether the voters actually even *want* to revise the constitution.) Drillon’s Senate bill for con-con looks, superficially, pretty good. Haven’t read it in detail. Hits the high spots: delegates elected by districts; no elected officials or losers from the last election allowed; gov’t & GOOC employees considered resigned is they run.

    It’s possible, of course, that a con-con might do as much or more damage than a con-ass, but at least we wouldn’t have that feeling of incumbent-induced distrust. We’d have to start fresh—discovering what to distrust about the new delegates! At any event, much will depend on voter education. I caution against pressing for too rapid a trip to the polls. Right now, one small (16% of the populace) group—which shall remain nameless—has mastered the manipulation of voter dissatisfaction. Has gained control of the noise level to their own ends.

    No homily would be complete without some gossip—this is, after all, the Philippines. My second-hand (but *just* second…not third or fourth) info is that as I type, the people whose future is *really* invested in federalism are spending like crazy on a fleet of audio/visual trucks designed to show federalist propaganda in every barangay that has a passable road. What a treat for the locals! Movie night. Those of us who think federalism will only empower the dynastic & benefit areas w/ readily exploitable resources—in a race-to-the-bottom death spiral—are, as usual, dithering. How will we educate the voters? What will we tell them that is anywhere near as powerful as the anger populist politicians aspire to maximize?

    But debate is good. One possibility has passed through my mind. Arguably, the American two-party system came into being (despite Washington’s objections) over this very issue. The one party called The Federalists the other (w/ an obviously tin ear for branding) The Anti-Federalists. In other words, we may not have to do anything to achieve a working two-party system. The present dance of the cha-cha may do it for us.

    • Joe America says:

      Fascinating, manilamac. Thanks for the informed and informative essay. I’m gathering that, given the propaganda push to be coming, this is a done deal, much like voting for Duterte was certified by all the noise in popular and social media. But it also appears that you believe dislodging the nation from its current stifled form could be good. As I reflect on that, I’m thinking it could not get much worse. Rolling over to China, murdering citizens left and right, trying 9 year olds as criminals and maybe executing a few for good fun, and trapos infesting all the well-paying jobs in government. Hey, Federalism will at least keep the rest of the Dutertes in southern Mindanao and let us Visayans enjoy our resorts and quiet life.

    • chempo says:

      Thank you for taking the time to jot down this lengthy comment and share your views.

      Your “gossip” part is really worrying. We all share the view of the problem of judgmental disability of the ordinary folks. The same group of vested-interest federalist has already shown the creative organising capabilities to ‘market’ a certain gentleman for high office. This must have emboldened and given them the impetus to speed up the march to federalism. Whilst there are groups that favour federalism in the pure belief of it being the answer to bringing economic development to provinces, the move can easily be hijacked by powerful groups with vested interest. And it’s easy to see where the interest lie — in the very heartland where vast natural resources of the land is. The place where lots of push for federalism is coming from, both in the past and the present. Where businessmen are now quick to jostle for a piece of the action. Where an environmentalist is placed to head DENR tasked (and accepted perhaps with some naivete) to break down the status quo of mining powers there. Certainly environmental abuse is prevalent, certainly they need to be hauled in and the problems addressed. Certainly some court judgments need to be acted on judiciously. 4 big mining companies are now suspended. The speed of executive action is to be applauded if it’s all in good faith. But one wonders. The speed of the environmental audit has been faster than lightning. Mixed in all this is the well-know fact there are lots of business interest of many people of political mix in the mining interest. It’s pay back time.

  24. edgar lores says:


    There seems to be many speculations and myths being advanced on this topic of federalism. Let me jot down my observations as gathered from parliamentarism in Oz in my 25 plus years here.

    1. My first general observation is that there are periods of calm, and turbulence and alternation.

    1.1. The periods of calm are when a majority party holds the reins of power for several terms. In my experience these periods have occurred twice: first under Bob Hawke who won 4 elections and served for 8 years from 1983 to 1991; second under John Howard who also won 4 elections and served for 11 years from 1996 to 2007. Howard was the second longest serving prime minister behind Sir Robert Menzies who served for 16 (!) years in the post-WWII years. Note that Hawke belonged to the Labor Party and Howard to the Liberal Party.

    1.2. The periods of turbulence and alternation are when the reins of power change hands from one party to another in a short period of time. This is occurring now in the post-John Howard era. Oz has seen a succession of 5 turns in the prime ministership in the past 9 years. The alternation is not only in the alternation of parties in government (Liberal vs. Labor) but more in the alternation of leaders within the ruling party.

    2. The above leads me to the following observations:

    2.1. The myth of stability. Oz politics is as personality-driven as much as Philippine politics. In the calm periods, I see the lengthy reigns of Hawke and Howard as attributable to charismatic leadership (Hawke) and confident leadership (Howard). In the turbulent periods, I see the turnover in leaderships as attributable to the party’s fear of losing the reins of power because their respective leaders are perceived to not be in possession of the right stuff.

    2.1.1. Generally, there are safe party seats and swing seats and, to be sure, all politics is local. (A safe party seat is one where one party dominates and wins through successive elections. For example, a socially upper-class electoral subdivision will always vote Republican (US) or Liberal (Oz).) However, I would say that parliamentary elections have become presidential with the electorate focusing on the man who leads the party rather than on the local representative.

    2.2. The myth of ideology. To be certain, parties are elected or rejected on their “platforms.” The Liberal Party is right of center and the Labor Party left of center. If ideology is the basis for victory, how is it that the parties rule alternately? I would say it is not ideology per se that wins elections but the dominating issues at election time vis-a-vis the positions taken by the parties. Needless to say, a party’s ideology will influence, but not absolutely determine, a party’s position.

    2.2.1. The primary issue in Oz politics, from my view, has been financial management. The party that can convince the electorate that their money (tax money and personal money) is in good hands wins hands down. In Oz politics, the notions of deficits and surpluses are eminent.

    2.2.2. However, secondary issues sometimes become primary. In the last election that Howard won, the dominant issue was that of boat people. In the last two elections, the issue has been the quality of leadership.

    2.2.3. Be aware that elections, presidential or parliamentary, are often won on the basis of a dominant issue. The party or candidate that can define the issue that resonates most with the people wins. With Aquino, it was corruption. With Duterte, it was peace and order. Poe lost because she did not have a central theme… as she wanted to be all things to all people.

    2.3. The myth of party withering. This sounds to me like the promise of communism in the withering of the state. In my quarter of a century in Oz, only one party withered, the Australian Democrats, and this was due to poor leadership and not because they were voted out of office. It was simply that leaders defected and the party’s membership dwindled.

    2.3.1. Contrary to this notion, I would say that small and weak parties – and independents! — thrive because they offer a refuge for people’s anger against the major parties. In Oz, this is partly true for the lower house and mostly true for the senate. In the last election, the ballot paper for the senate was a mile long.

    2.3.2. My impression is that there are some parliamentary countries – for example, Israel and Italy — that govern mostly through coalitions with minor parties

    2.4. The myth of the vote of no confidence. No Australian prime minister has ever lost office by a vote of no confidence. Members of parliament will always vote along party or coalition lines.

    2.4.1. In the current turbulent era, prime ministers have been booted out from leadership within the party room and NOT within parliament. The so-called stab in the back.


    There is a difference between theory and practice. I am partly of the view that it is not the system (or the water — fresh or salty) but the people (the fish). I do not deny improvements occur if the system is changed, but I maintain they can occur with fine-tuning. As Joseph has noted, deep thought is required. As Irineo has noted we live in a swamp. And as Juana has noted we are mud crabs.

    How Filipinos will modify the assumed superiority of parliamentary government remains to be seen. As with our experience with the presidential system, the people did not adapt to the system. Rather, they adopted it and mangled it.

    • bill in oz says:

      Thanks Edgar for the essay on Aussie politics..One minor mistake. There has been one motion of no confidence carried against a PM.Arthur Fadden who was PM briefly in 1941 lost power when a couple of his own coalition withdrew support. That lead to Labor forming government under John Curtin. And the threat of losng confidence is always operative.

      By the way Robert Menzies was also PM for a long period of stable government 1949 till 1966 when he retired.The only one who has to my knowledge.

      More later when I have time..But well done Edgar. Very informative

      • edgar lores says:

        Bill, thanks. The perspective is from me as an outsider. As an insider, I am certain you can refine the observations.

        Re vote of no confidence. Yes, I agree the threat is always operative. It is part of the checks and balances of parliamentary government.


        These prime ministers could not gain supply from the House of Representatives or an opposition amendment to a supply bill was passed:

        Alfred Deakin (1904, could pass no legislation)
        Arthur Fadden (1941, budget was amended down by £A1)



        1. £A1 refers to the Australian pound.

        2. Loss of supply is not equivalent to the loss in a vote of no confidence.

    • Francis says:

      A very welcome insight from a perspective of experience. Some conclusions are quite challenging to the assumptions I’ve formed based on bits and pieces of theory I’ve skimmed from the books and the web. Yet—I can’t help but bring up one point: there are many crucial differences between the Philippines and Australia worth considering.

      One thing that comes to mind is ideology. Australia and Philippines are on two different timescales. Western (Australia) countries have already achieved a state of highly stable political maturity—the democratic consensus that is the modern welfare state. The ideological war has already ended; the Left (labor) and Right (capital) came to a peaceful settlement. The struggle has—as you aptly pointed out—moved on the “issues” of the day: the fine tuning and cultural matter. One cannot say the same for the Developing World (i.e. the Philippines) which is still wracked by not only class, but ethnic and religious division—and where there is division, there is ideology. There is yet to be Philippine consensus widely shared by both the masses and the elite.

      And one might add that Brexit and Trump foretell a coming end to this Post-WW2 model of the welfare state. And it is also worth noting that the neoliberal programs meant to transition these welfare states into the 21st century—filled with all sorts of novel issues: automation, global warming, etcetera—are not meeting the approval of a lot of people. And considering we in the Third World have barely developed mechanisms for achieving consensus (parties, etc.)—much less any consensus: don’t count ideology out just yet.

      Of course—the devil’s advocate in me would point out that “ideology” as we used to know it (Early 20th Century—manifestos and all) is probably dying out. “Ideology” itself will be a different beast in the future, most likely. Quickening technological and social change—along with the phenomenon of mass expertise (everyone can become a geek/nerd with enough time) and democratization of knowledge (everyone can Google) will…honestly I don’t how people will achieve consensus or will they even ever achieve such a thing…

      • edgar lores says:

        Francis, thanks.

        I agree Oz and the Philippines are on different time scales. I am sorry I gave the impression ideology does not matter.

        I believe ideology is very important in that it defines the basic philosophy of a party and, consequently, how the party fashions platforms. The fault line in Oz politics is still big business (Liberal Party) vs. workers’ unions (Labor Party). This is the same fault line that exists in the US, the one percent (Republican) vs. the ninety-nine percent (Democrat).

        The philosophical divide determines the basic issues from the role of government (big or small) to the programs of government (welfare state or not).

        My observation was simply that party ideology does not necessarily decide elections. Elections hinge on personalities and on the issues of the day. And the dominant issue is established by the more wily party.

        One other thing I forgot to mention: the parliamentary form in Oz does not promote long-range planning. This is paradoxical in that ideology is supposed to ensure long-term vision. But the parties are normally focused on just fulfilling their campaign promises in order to win the next election. (We have a variable 3-year election cycle.) I would say the Labor Party here has been the bolder party in this regard, giving us the Snowy Mountain scheme, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Medicare, the floating of the Australian dollar, the National Broadband Network and so on. But where, I ask, are the fast trains?

        • Joe America says:

          Next Sunday’s blog will consider Francis’ prior supposition that the PH may be developing two legitimate political parties. You may choose to hold fire until that blog is published.

        • bill in oz says:

          The VFT from Melbourne to Sydney via Eastern Victoria, Jyndabyne and Canberra was proposed in the 1980’s & early 1990’s.It was shafted by Greens and Nimby’s on one hand & by the leaders in the towns in the existing old & slow rail corridor who did not want to miss out..
          BHP which funded the program walked away…

          A great pity..

        • bill in oz says:

          Edgar Re your comment
          “I believe ideology is very important in that it defines the basic philosophy of a party and, consequently, how the party fashions platforms. The fault line in Oz politics is still big business (Liberal Party) vs. workers’ unions (Labor Party). ”

          If you were speaking about 25 years ago I would agree entirelly..However things have changed somewhat..

          There is a right wing faction in the Liberals which has become more ideological..And driven by a pro globalisation stance combined with lowering social security benefits…Abbot was / is it’s champion. The current PM Turnbull is not part of this faction but a more middle of the road Liberal and hated for deposing Abbot.

          Meanwhile the decline in union membership & full time work, combined with increased feminisation of the workforce, ( women tend not to join unions ) has lead to the unions having a less ideological approach and reduced influence in the ALP..

          And there has been a rise in influence in young university graduate inner city types with a very strong international ‘one world’ perspective’ with consequent support for “boat people’ etc…And frankly little empathy or awareness of working class Australians..

          ( A personal note : I saw this process happen in the ALP from the inside from 1975 till 1987 & 2000 to 2004 in 2 states )

    • chempo says:

      Your observation aligns with the history of rise and fall of kingdoms in a nutshell.

      Periods of calm brings about great developments. The govt that has staying power can plan long term. That is basically one of the factors for the success of Singapore. With success comes complacency, that kicks in in-efficiencies with a whole host of problems and public dissent. Then comes turbulence and rapid changes in governments.

      • edgar lores says:

        Chempo, just a thought. It seems to me the Philippines is doomed to turbulence because of the prescription of a single presidential term. The six-year election cycle (actually it’s every three years) with no continuity in a single president keeps the election pot on boil without letup.

        (I think a 5-year term, either continuous or not, should have been prescribed for the presidential system. Four years is too short, six too long.)

        As stated elsewhere, my view is that parliamentarism in the Philippines will introduce extended periods of calm because of the power of incumbency and the culture of patronage. I agree with you on the upside (long term planning and implementation) and the downside (complacency and stagnation).

    • edgar lores says:

      I should add:

      2.5. The myth of no pork barrel. Pork in the Oz parliamentary system does not take the form of government funds being handed down to individual representatives. Rather it takes the form of the party offering financial assistance for local infrastructure projects, particularly in marginal (non-safe) seats. The financial assistance is formalized as a budgetary item.

      • LG says:

        Edgar, Such, pork type allocation in Oz, is a plus for parliamentarism.

        • edgar lores says:

          A plus for the local seat, no doubt. But in terms of the fair distribution of resources? Doubtful, I would say.

          • LG says:

            A change to federalism- presidential, or parliamentarian would leave newly elected officials under the new system excited but struggling to get it right. Will there be seasoned tutors/guides along the way? I imagine, I’d still be around and alert living their fumbles:(.

  25. Switching to a federal type of government would only produce a corrupt Philippine president, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago warned.

    Santiago feared that federalism would create “more problems” for the country, and one of these is stripping the people of their current ability to choose their preferred president via their own individual ballot.

    “Imagine, you and I will not directly have the power to choose in our individual ballot who we want to be president of our country. Instead, first we elect our members of parliament who are the equivalent of the congressmen. And then, once selected, they—that gang of politicians—will choose from among themselves,” she explained.

    The problem lies with the propensity of Filipino politikos to be corrupt, the pick-up line savant pointed out.

    “We know how those politicians act. Mostly, their actions are always attended by corruption. So it could be possible if we elect corrupt members of parliament, it could be possible that if they put themselves on sale, the candidate with the highest bid or the highest bribe will become the next prime minister,” she further said.

    Santiago noted that the chances of such scenario playing out under federalism is high “because of the present state of our masses”.

    The Philippines currently employ a unitary style of government. (Randy K. Ortega)


    • The masa voters gave us Erap, Soto, Lapid, Pacquiao and PDu30….

      The same masa will vote for MP / Congressmen, in turn they will vote for someone who will take care of their interest and political ambition. Back scratching all around.

      The turncoat politicians come to mind.

      My fear is another long term corrupt dictator…

      …. and a very short term one for the likes of PNOY.

    • bill in oz says:

      Mary Grace, when elites treat the Massa with contempt, the Massa return the favor.That is politics..Interesting I have never seen the word “Massa” used anywhere else in the English speaking world..Masses has a different academic connotation )

      Miriam Santiago seems to be confusing Federalism with Parliamentary government.Thy are different,They are not the same.

      Duterte says he wants a Federal system..but no details are out yet..He has never said anything about going for a Parliamentary government..But maybe. I don’t know. So her comments are not part of an informed discussion.

      • edgar lores says:

        Bill, I don’t think there is a confusion, simply an association of federalism with parliamentarism. The association is implied, but the association arises from previous statements of Duterte that he favors federalism and parliamentarism.


        • bill in oz says:

          Thanks Edgar I missed this….I would love to see some of the detail of what is proposed.But there is no detail..The extent of change is a lot, if this is what is proposed.

      • @ Bill in Oz

        I have yet to analyze and have a deeper study on federalism. I need to have time.

        What little I know of it has me doubtful that it will be good for our country. Each municipality, city and region in our archipelago are ruled by political dynasties thru goons, guns and gold. They control their own little kingdoms for several decades – husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, other relatives take turns in their respective seat of power, with no thought of relinquishing it. Rare exceptions are the Robredos who had broken the hold of some in their region. Look at Davao, The mayor, the vice mayor and the Sangunian Head (Legislative) are all Dutertes, and all other local agencies are also controlled by them for almost 30 years. Makati with the Binays, etc, etc.

        Political dynasties are here to stay since the implementing laws to give teeth to the decades old constitutional prohibition of dynasties have no hope of being passed in the legislative branch which is controlled by these same families.

        Remove dynasties, then think of federalism, or even parliament system of government. Otherwise, change is not coming in that area.

        “…when elites treat the Massa with contempt, the Massa return the favor”.

        Right and the Communists are taking advantage to effect this returning of this contempt favor.

        …some elites do treat them that way, but not all, Bill. Some generous and benevolent, well-to-do families are known for their philanthropic causes..contributing substantial funds, time and energy to help the masa. Sadly, the masa outnumbers them and their resources; meanwhile the corrupt politicians are hindering the results of economic progress to flow smoothly to them.

        The masa (the dirt poor and the misinformed) compose the majority of our electorates. They are defeated by their circumstances, cowered by poverty and fear, victims of propaganda and misinformation, even half truths.

        • bill in oz says:

          Thank you Mary..yes such is the way it is here..I agree…
          But in over a hundred years of the current political system there has been no real change..the local datus & their families rule…And anti -oligarchy laws have never been passed..A circuit breaker is needed..

          My thought is that a federal system will be that circuit breaker…

    • Joe America says:

      She states the opposition about as clearly as it can be stated. Thanks for bringing that in, MG.

  26. The blog topics are all quite awesome, educational and intellectually provocative as well as interesting, ditto for the ensuing comments and discussions.

    Congrats to sir Edgar, Chempo, Joseph and of course, Joe. Likewise to all the deep insights, wisdom, wit, and humor on the commentaries from Cha, Vicara, Irineo, Karl, sir NH, Bill in Oz (hope your arm will heal completely, ditto for your exchanges with Mercedes), Bert the rest of the Society. Sonny, I hope you’re alright. There are a lot of new commentators, er commenters. argh!

    I wish I have the time and the energy to participate in all of them. Lurking is all I can do these days.

    • Joe America says:

      Lurk well. Our good wishes are with you.

    • sonny says:

      The Society runs deep and runs swift, Mary Grace. I’m afraid heart is all I got to keep up. 🙂 Living in the American federalism is the only pertinence I have to show, the midwestern part anyway. Yes, I’m ok, Mary G. Good of you to ask.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Good to know that you are ok Uncle.

      • sonny says:

        On-topic, I think the failure to address crime and punishment in our current democratic form is a big part that must be addressed in our federal consideration. Otherwise going federal will be a totally uncharted territory. The pun is intended. The present discussions are bringing out points galore I have not come across before. Hence I am totally the student here.

  27. Con Con, please…is this really urgent? can’t we postpone the KB and other baranggay level election as in simultaneous to mid-term election?…..no to Con Ass

    Con Ass (howl !!!, from me)

  28. LG says:


    A paper on the Economics of Federalism seems in order for you. You alluded above that space prohibited you from delving on such.

    For the fence sitters and eavesdroppers, it would be nice to know.


      • Joe America says:

        Page 2: From the perspective of economic efficiency, determining which level of government is best suited to manage governmental functions requires balancing the benefits and costs of decentralized and centralized political structures.

        Page 9: [SHOUT OUT TO BILL] The central weakness is a failure to adequately allocate public goods and services with significant economies of scale –

        . . . then I fell asleep . . .

        • karlgarcia says:

          That bad eh? LG proceed with caution then.

        • bill in oz says:

          Been way all day at Makati & Chinese..Hospital
          I will attempt to get through this without falling asleep..and reply

        • bill in oz says:

          The introduction is interesting as it is honest about it’s economic & academic origins…The rest poceeds from what it states are ‘economic failures’ by the central governments….

          Duhhhhhh Excuse me boyos but the manifest failure in the Philippines is POLITICAL..And that holds up the economic future of the country..

          A quote from the intro:
          “Ultimately, the choice of an optimal level
          economic efficiency and the potentially competing values of
          political participation
          economic fairness
          , and personal rights and
          liberties ”

          BTW :This has come out this way folks in an attempt to prevent copy & paste by the authors ..perhaps they don’t want you to know ..)

          • bill in oz says:

            PS Tooooo academic..I fell sleep at page 3 also.. Sorry Karl..Not useful..

          • Joe America says:

            I think it is just the quirks of copying pdf files.

          • karlgarcia says:

            From the arguments above and in the past. I am not convinced that the poor states will survive this survival of the fittest form of government.
            Many say its the people,not the system,you say the reverse.

            • bill in oz says:

              Hi Karl, I have never said that Federal system is survival of the fittest.Nor in fact is that the way that Australian Federal system works…We have a GST (= your VAT ) ..This is levied & collected by the Commonwealth government.But all revenue is distributed to the states. Distribution is done by a formula arranged y a combined national & state council which favors the poorer states. The more resource wealthy states yelp about it and are politely ignored. This process evens things up…

              I suggest that if the Philippines goes the way of Federal state these details will need to be worked out.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thank you for that then it is almost similar to Internal Revenue Alotment.

                if it is true that multi media trucks will be going around for an information tour,then that is good,they must do it for the masses.They just can not do it via the internet.

          • chempo says:

            it employed an anti-sotto app.

      • LG says:

        Master Librarian, you are KG. Will see if I comprendo it. 😉

        Am not getting email notifications anymore, albeit pressing Follow button.

  29. NHerrera says:



    Thanks for sending me, through Joe, the spreadsheet corresponding to the one used in the long color-coded table in your Federalism article.

    Using only countries with available Per Capita Income (PCI), I discarded the countries with form of government other than Parliamentary or Parliamentary. I did two sets of calculations — all countries and countries only with World Governance Indicator (WGI) less than 75.


    Part 1 — Taking the averages

    All countries considered:


    Countries with WGI less than 75:


    Part 2 — Correlation Index* of WGI with PCI


    with the note that ?? represents symbolically more uncertainty in asserting that the Form of Government drives WGI and this in turn drives PCI. My use of the symbol ?? means that there may be other intervening items or factors just as important, that are missed, in making the assertion or causal relationship. In the second half of the diagram, I used a single ? in going from WGI to PCI because of my stronger belief that the 6 elements composing the WGI does indeed DRIVE the PCI with lesser uncertainty than the first part of the diagram.

    2. My last line above connects with the calculation of the correlation index, reasonably significant with respect to the Parliamentary form of government.

    • NHerrera says:

      Oops the part that begins with

      “Part 2 — Correlation Index* of WGI with PCI”

      should be

      Part 2 — Correlation Index* of WGI with PCI


      with the note that ?? represents symbolically more uncertainty in asserting that the Form of Government drives WGI and this in turn drives PCI. My use of the symbol ?? means that there may be other intervening items or factors just as important, that are missed, in making the assertion or causal relationship. In the second half of the diagram, I used a single ? in going from WGI to PCI because of my stronger belief that the 6 elements composing the WGI does indeed DRIVE the PCI with lesser uncertainty than the first part of the diagram.

      2. My last line above connects with the calculation of the correlation index, reasonably significant with respect to the Parliamentary form of government.

      • NHerrera says:

        Still wrong, I wonder. I will do this in parts:

        Presidential……………0.62 …………………0.41

        *Note that Correlation Index of 1.0 is perfect correlation

      • NHerrera says:


        1. Looking at the numbers above, as well as the colors used by chempo in his table of the two main forms of government — Parliamentary and Presidential — and their association with the levels of the WGI, it is plausible to draw the diagram

        FORM OF GOV >>> ?? >>> WGI >>> ? >>> PCI

        with the note that ?? represents symbolically more uncertainty in asserting that the Form of Government drives WGI and this in turn drives PCI. My use of the symbol ?? means that there may be other intervening items or factors just as important, that are missed, in making the assertion or causal relationship. In the second half of the diagram, I used a single ? in going from WGI to PCI because of my stronger belief that the 6 elements composing the WGI does indeed DRIVE the PCI with lesser uncertainty than the first part of the diagram.

        2. My last line above connects with the calculation of the correlation index, reasonably significant with respect to the Parliamentary form of government.

      • NHerrera says:

        (Now I will try again the whole bit)



        Thanks for sending me, through Joe, the spreadsheet corresponding to the one used in the long color-coded table in your Federalism article.

        Using only countries with available Per Capita Income (PCI), I discarded the countries with form of government other than Parliamentary or Parliamentary. I did two sets of calculations — all countries and countries only with World Governance Indicator (WGI) less than 75.


        Part 1 — Taking the averages

        All countries considered:


        Countries with WGI less than 75:

        FORM OF GOV….WGI……..PCI

        Part 2 — Correlation Index* of WGI with PCI


        with the note that ?? represents symbolically more uncertainty in asserting that the Form of Government drives WGI and this in turn drives PCI. My use of the symbol ?? means that there may be other intervening items or factors just as important, that are missed, in making the assertion or causal relationship. In the second half of the diagram, I used a single ? in going from WGI to PCI because of my stronger belief that the 6 elements composing the WGI does indeed DRIVE the PCI with lesser uncertainty than the first part of the diagram.

        2. My last line above connects with the calculation of the correlation index, reasonably significant with respect to the Parliamentary form of government.

      • NHerrera says:

        Sorry about that. The ether has put a monkey wrench on my post. Good night.

        • caliphman says:

          Good job, manong. Your simple numerical analysis summarizes that huge table which according to chempo empirically supports favoring a parliamentary versus a presidential form of government. That a parliamentary form is more strongly associated with better governance is a central unresolved issue raised in this blog of what governmental structure makes sense for the Philippines. The issue of whether better governance and stronger economic performance goes hand in hand is less of a question as most astute economists will confirm that an uncertain governmental environment is bad for business and the economy. For this reason, the first issue is the more important question and the fact that the arithmetic average for good governance is significantly higher for parliamentary versus presidential governments is thereby statistically and clearly established by your analysis.

          Why such would be the case is not obvious as intuitively one would think that poor leadership and other socio-cultural factors regardless of the type of government is what is crucial to good governance. Obviousy, this is not the case and determiing factors that explain why parliamentary governments perform so much better needs to be understood.

          • NHerrera and caliphman are like a one-two punch 😉 Thanks, fellas,

            “For this reason, the first issue is the more important question and the fact that the arithmetic average for good governance is significantly higher for parliamentary versus presidential governments is thereby statistically and clearly established by your analysis.”

        • edgar lores says:


          Bravo, Maestro!

          As usual, you hedge your conclusions with caveats. I, too, am wary of single-factor analyses, and I am curious.

          If we were to introduce two factors to the data, what would the correlations be? The two I have in mind are:

          o Religion. The dichotomy would be Christianity-dominant vs. non-Christianity-dominant
          o Geography. The dichotomy would be East vs. West.

          Accordingly, my biases — absent actual findings — would be:

          o Christianity-dominant countries will have a higher WGI/PCI
          o Western countries will have a higher WGI/PCI

          The question then arises: Is it the form of government? Is it the dominant religion? Or is it geography? Which factor should be given the higher correlation or causality?

          The analyses, based on the form of government or any one factor, seems to be one dimensional. It would be interesting to see the intersection of these three factors.

          P.S. This is not an assignment. Just wondering.

          • Joe America says:

            Hahaha, not an assignment. How can a numbers guy resist such delightful delicacies placed before his very nose? It’s almost enough to have me eschew my distaste for statistics. Go NH, go! Do it! Religion and geography!

            • Caliphman says:

              Lets not go overboard here spinning unverifiable theories which cannot be supported by the data at hand, unless someone can come up with other credible empirical research on other factors besides form of goverment that can be statistically analyzed. What the comparative numbers suggest is there is a definite correlation between parliamentary governments and better governance as measured by the index. Whether this is a cause and effect relationship remains a questionwith nations having high WGI’s preferring parliaments or the more interesting case, parliamentary governments tending to lead to better governance. Sure there are other factors that may affect WGI like religion, former colonizer, economic classification, etc. but they may not be relevant or actionable to the present issue of what type of government makes sense for the Philippines if the constitution is to change.Certainly, if Judaism or Confuscianism are significant influences in explaining high WGI or economic performance, that would be nice to know but I do not imagine it would lead to adoptng either as the preferred state religion. In addition, to explain the observed empirical relationship in the data, any such factor should both significantly predispose countries to choose parliamentary governments and to govern better separately and at the same time.

              However what should be verified is that this apparent strong relatiionship between parliamentary governments and good governance is not due to random chance. There are other statistical tests I am sure Manong Herrera knows about that can be used to determine if the higher WGI average in parliamentary goverments can be due to random chance and that the existence and the degree of relationship can be trusted.

              • caliphman says:


                Incidentally, CJ Panganiban has a 3 part series in his column on Federalism. They dwell less on the regional economic equity issues discussed here but more on its legal and political centralization aspects. The last Federalism 103 discusses in depth what process is entailed or should be followed to finalize it in the constitution.

              • Joe America says:

                Thanks for the resource.

              • chempo says:

                I always appreciate your well thought-out take on most issues. But I suspect that average guys like me and most people sway easily to simple ideas seemingly supported by one dimensional charts and what not, which appear on first sight as strong verifications. People see what they like to see. Actually, my support for parliamentary form is simply based on my personal experiences, but of course it does not necessarily mean it is the best for Philippines. My purpose was to throw it out for discussion, and I took a position which is purely personal.

          • bill in oz says:

            Edgar & Nherarra
            I suggest that secular is an important characteristic. Australia & New Zealand historically were Christian.Nut now Christianity has a very reduced impact…

            By contrast there are some countries in the Pacific region which are high christian church going countries but have high levels of corruption & instability : Papua New Guinea, The Solomons, Timor L’Este, Fiji come to mind. All have parliamentary governments by the way.

            • edgar lores says:


              These 4 countries all belong to the East and have WGI’s less than 75. Ranked by WGI:

              1. Fiji is predominantly Christian (58%) (and non-Catholic (49%)). It is East. WGI is 46.5.

              2. The Solomons is predominantly Christian (92%) (and non-Catholic (73%)). It is East. WGI is 38.4.

              3. Papua is predominantly Christian (96%) (and non-Catholic (69.5%)). It is East. WGI is 31.6.

              4. East Timor is predominantly Christian (98%) (and Catholic (98%)). It is East. WGI is 26.5.

              Just on the basis of these 4 countries, one could conclude that non-Catholicism is “better” than Catholicism! Especially so because East Timor is 98% Catholic.

              So triple whammy for the Philippines — 82% Catholic, East and presidential?

              • bill in oz says:

                Yes I had not thought of that Edgar – a triple whammy for the Philippines..

                By the way, I think the Solomons WGI rating is not really accurate…There was a civil war there for 5 years in the 1990’s early 2000’s..Finally peace was restored with New Zealand & Australian peace keepers..And substantial foreign aid…Without these the Solomons would be even more down the list

              • Joe America says:

                Time to dig up Camus’ essential philosophical question, “should we commit suicide?”

          • karlgarcia says:

            Manong NH
            would need these inputs



            would he only pick one major religion?

            Does east consist of Asia and Oceania and the rest West?

            • karlgarcia says:

              The Western Hemisphere only includes the Americas according to this.


            • edgar lores says:


              Good question. I realize the difficulty as there could be a cultural, political or economic connotation as to what constitutes the West.

              I lean more to the cultural definition than to mere geography.

              From Wikipedia: “From a cultural and sociological approach the Western world is defined as including all cultures that are directly derived from and influenced by European cultures, i.e. Europe (at least the European Union member states, EFTA countries, European microstates); in the Americas (e.g. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela), and in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). Together these countries constitute Western society.”

              Note that Oceania only includes Australia and New Zealand. Funny that Canada is not included in the Americas.

            • Joe America says:

              Ah, we have the best librarian in the entire nation. Right here. I intend to double your salary in 2017.

        • josephivo says:

          Shouldn’t the table be split in two first? Countries that where independent in 1945 and countries that where not? I saw somewhere statistics indicating the difference what even bigger for new “democracies”. The effect is the greatest in starting countries, shifting later when political cultures are entrenched might have a lesser effect.

        • chempo says:

          Guys, I admit to some cognitive bias in the tables. Perhaps it was the colours.

          @ NHerera — Thank you for taking the time to work the numbers.

          A guy drives his car out of his garage and finds a screw on the floor — his day is wasted as he spends the next few hours scrutinising every nook and cranny of the undercarriage. He gets fixated with the damn screw and where it came from.

          Or a software programmer who will never go to bed till he has that one last glitch identified. He burns midnight oil into the wee hours only to find the damn cause was a missing ‘coma’ in his codings.

          I imagined you were like that. Sorry to put you through that.

          @ Edgar — on correlation to religion.

          Might present some revelation, will NHerera bite?

          Just a thought Edgar, how about correlating to beer consumption?

          Here’s the link, just in case NHerera is crazy enough to check it out —
          East European countries capture the top spots, Philippines somewhere in the middle, Singapore in the bottom rungs with Islamic countries.

          • edgar lores says:


            1. There are valid correlates and invalid correlates. Beer is an invalid correlate of good governance.

            2. Why so?

            3. Religion, geography (as culture), and form of government are valid correlates because each of these forms an ethical subset. Ethics has to do with how we ought to behave. And good governance has to do with ethical considerations.

            3.1. There is a religious ethic, a cultural ethic, and a political ethic. There is no beer ethic. (The only beer ethic I know is you have to buy a round when it’s your turn.)

            3.2. Judeo-Christianity is a religious ethic. Western culture is a philosophical and social ethic. And parliamentarism and presidentialism are political ethics.

            3.3. This brings us back to what we partly discussed in my post, “Judgmental Disability” — and that is principles and values.

            3.4. Ethics is mainly a study and practice of principles and values. Arguably:

            3.4.1. The Judeo-Christianity ethic gave us the values of life and fraternity.
            3.4.2. The Western culture ethic gave us the values of liberty, equality and democracy, and subsequently social justice.
            3.4.3. The Western political ethic of parliamentarism and presidentialism gave us the principle and value of the separation of powers.

            4. As Joseph would put it, these values are the drivers of our exploration of good governance.

            5. After coming up with the above on my afternoon walk, unraveling the puzzle of your suggestion, I feel entitled to a bottle or two of San Mig. Isa pa nga!

            • The Italians and Arabs had coffee shops, and the English and Americans had pubs. Maybe not coffee or beer, or wine per se, but the habit of getting together and just playing bumper cars with other peoples’ minds and thoughts, is central. The Jews have neither, but because their Talmud’s so contradictory and confusing, they’d made a habit of arguing (in Yeshivas or at home).

              I don’t think it’s religion or beer or pubs (those are just venues), I think it’s the habit of getting together and disagreeing. Do Filipinos have this habit? Are there venues that encourage this habit? In Vanuatu, most meetings take place under huge banyan trees, then they wrap it up with a community dance. What similar habits/traditions are found in the Philippines?

              I know there’s the tagay in barangay halls, but I’ve never heard big worthwhile ideas that surface out of these meetings, usually it’s people talking about other camps. Are business clubs, or chambers of commerce, any different over there?

            • chempo says:

              I had foolishly thought that beer consumption at national levels might have some relationship to good governance. I was’nt thinking like Lance of guys discussing under the banyan tree, but that sober minded people would have better WGI rating. Was’nt that the reason why Du30 stopped alcohol consumption at public places by 12pm?

              Indeed the beer index bears no relationship to the WDI index.

  30. chemp,

    Every time I hear the word parliament, the first that always comes to mind are these images,

    😉 thanks for the education.

    Which ever form of government is best for the Philippines, I’m down, I’m with you so long as guys like this are kept in check, that should be the focus, and it’s not just Palawan it’s the rest of the Philippines. 100% agree.

    chempo:“Not so fast Bill.
    Do you know who has his freaking hand in almost every sector of the economy in Palawan? The govenor, that’s right. I won’t mention names. He was grilled by Winnie Monsod on TV interview not too long ago. He was not standing for election for national post, it was dumbass for him to agree to be interviewed. If you want to do construction biz, you get pay loader drivers, he is the guy to supply you. You want gravel, he is the guy to supply you. Money from the gas fields? Dont know where it went.

    The richness of Palawan is not harvested by the govt. It’s big leakage at local levels. That’s why local election is killing time. How can federalism solve this? Guys like him will have one less layer to answer to.

    • That’s for the parliamentary system in general, but specifically in the case of the Philippines, I’m with Doc :

      “First, I reckon PH already has a perfectly functional form of government in place, it’s the implementation of it that has very serious problems. Adding any additional bureaucracies or scrapping the whole system in favor of a completely new or highly modified version is literally insane and would inevitably only lead to a repeat of the same situation that exists today (or worse) until the primary dysfunction of failed implementation is fixed in the first place. Besides that, does anybody really believe PH could actually sustain a complete reformation of the political system? That’s a pipe-dream that is doomed to fail before it even got started. If the objective is to actually IMPROVE the nation as a whole, ya gotta face facts and actually DO what must be done. NONE of it will be easy, and it damned sure aint gonna happen quickly!

      There’s always some sort of coup d’état or another EDSA looming in the background, make the best with what you have? The problem is within (in the individual), it’s not some outside force whether it be in a form of gov’t or outside countries to ally with, etc. that will save the Philippines. Filipinos need to start raging (smartly). 😉

      • chempo says:

        When I saw your first picture of ME parliament above, in a split second my mind reacted — I’ll send Lance to Taiwan. Then I scroll down and saw Taiwan haha.

        In this blog, every commenter that tells me “I think Philippines should…..” I’ll agree. Just like Doc’s and your say to retain status quo. Why? — because like I said, no single act can resolve Phil’s problems. We need actions on the trinity — people/political structure/ form of govt.

        • LG says:

          This news must have been posted here already but did not see it.

          ” I won’t pursue Federalism if not all Filipinos want it… I am willing to concede…” In his speech on Friday, July 8 at the Post Ramadan Muslim holiday gathering, SMX CC. Sun Star Manila.

    • karlgarcia says:

      There is a blog site just for Parliament fights.


      • Joe America says:

        I’m thinking about adapting the categories for that blog to our own. Much more relevant:

        Best of
        Boxing and Punches
        Fireworks and Stuff
        Men and Women
        MPs fighting outside Parliament
        Running like mad
        Throwing Objects
        Throwing Paper
        Throwing Water
        Using Chairs and Furniture
        Using Shields

  31. Jack says:

    What would be the signifcance if we go back to the Commonwealth Constitution to see if Federalism ever worked in the Philippines?

    That is a philosophical question of course, but there is a valuable merit since Federalism seems to work in America. Doesnt it Joe?

    • Joe America says:

      It is a different style in the US than what is contemplated here, I think. The national government remains strong in the US, and well-funded. The states are definitely a part of the union. I somehow think the national government in the Philippines won’t get stronger, and it is already weak.

      We have to await the specific language of the amendments or re-write to understand what really is proposed, and how the national government would be kept strong.

      • Jack says:

        True, it is different and we just have to wait until then; however, I think they have to do their homework diligently and it wouldnt hurt if they send a delegation to US; perhaps they could pick up something useful guidelines how to drive the Fed without getting a serious traffic violations.

  32. Tutchi Tutica says:

    Very enlightening indeed. Thanks for this article.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] via Federalism – what they don’t tell you — The Society of Honor by Joe America […]

  2. […] considerations, along with the benefits of a parliamentary form of government, in his recent blog “Federalism – what they don’t tell you”. I heartily recommend that you read this article if you want to get beyond the simplistic […]

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