‘Bayanihan’ federalism to address economic imbalance in PH

MANILA As part of its efforts to make its proposed presidential-federal form of government uniquely Filipino, the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has dubbed its version of the system as bayanihan or working together federalism.

What we are trying to evolve is a federal system that is uniquely Philippine in character. We are not copying a federal system in any part of the world, ConCom Senior Technical Assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso said in a press conference at the PICC on Wednesday.

It may be recalled that retired Chief Justice and ConCom Chairman Reynato Puno earlier urged the members of the body to make sure that they do not plagiarize any federalism model as it should be distinctly Filipino.

There are different models of this structure available off the shelf but there is no model that will perfectly fit the Philippines, Puno said during the first Concom en banc session last February.

Generoso explained that the bayanihan federalism will be inspired by a framework called Readiness Index for Sustained Economies Under PHederalism (Rise-Up).

The primary objective why we are federalizing is not political, it is actually economic. Of course it is going to be a political decision and it is also meant to enhance the political system of the country, Generoso said.

But the foundation of federalism is economic because what we are trying to address is the economic imbalance in the country, he added.

Generoso pointed out that during the first few sessions of the ConCom, the concept of developing a holding together federalism at the national level was envisioned.

Why holding together? Because unlike in the case of many countries like the US, what happened with them is several independent states coming together to form a union. In our case, we are one state but we are going to establish or create a number of constituent units to which we are going to transfer or share the powers and resources of government, Generoso said.

However, he said that in doing so, the Concom wanted to make sure that the federal government will be strong enough to hold the country together so that no one gets left behind because critics fear that federalism might break the country apart.

Generoso, on the other hand, said that at the regional level, it will be a working together federalism.

What we want is for everyone, every political unity of the nation and every citizen to work together. What we're actually federating are the different units at the groundthe provinces, the cities. We are federating them into stronger units that we may call federated region so that we can achieve economies of scale and we can also achieve administrative efficiency, Generoso said.

Big brother

According to Generoso, bayanihan federalism simply meant that no province, no city will stand alone or be left behind as it promotes the spirit of cooperative competition or coopetition.

We are developing the big brother concept. The bigger and more developed provinces, if you federate them with smaller and less developed provinces, (they) will have to help smaller underdeveloped provinces so that the entire region that they constitute will be able to grow and becomes stronger in the entire republic of the Philippines, Generoso said.

Generoso explained that 62 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or the production of the economy is concentrated in three regions, namely Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon; while 14 other regions have to fight it out for the remaining 38 percent of economic activity.

The farther you are away from the center of political and economic power, which is Metro Manila, the smaller is the share in the GDP, the higher is the poverty incidence. That's what we are trying to cure, Generoso said.

The bayanihan concept, Generoso said, should also inspire politicians in each region to help each other.

In terms of the administrative structure, we're studying a system wherein bigger provinces will not have an undue advantage as far as representation is concerned, Generoso said.

We need to find a formula so that the advantage of size can be more or less addressed in the structure of the region, he added.

Under bayanihan federalism, Generoso emphasized that politicians including governors, and majors, will also be encouraged to have a change in objective in terms of governance.

You are now one region. If you are the chief executive of that region, what will be your objective in governance? You have to make sure your region grows at par with the other regions, Generoso said.

You came from a big province, are you going to just take care of your province? What you represent now is your region. And your governance goal is how to make your region grow at par with other regions, he added.

He explained that this is where the concept of coopetition comes in: The provinces may probably still compete among themselves but then they will have to think bigger.

Now, we think, each province thinks of its own but if you federate them into one region, they will not be thinking of what's good for my province or city, they will also be thinking what's good for our region, Generoso said.

If you don't help each other in your region, you'll be left behind by other regions. The other regions will grow faster than you. So you will have to work together, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency