Federalist questions (Final)

Published November 28, 2019, 12:52 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Erik Espina
Erik Espina

Three types of federalism: 1) Fiscal – Congress controls the power over treasury. 2) Dual – Union and state share power. Federal government ascendant over individual states. 3) Cooperative – equal share of power, divided sovereignty, resulting in stalemate. Which model do we subscribe to?

A review of the ebbing ferment for federalist initiatives may be abbreviated as follows: 1) Drive for increased sharing of national appropriations and fair access to “territorial” resources. 2) Fueled resentments pushing decentralization from a Tagalog “Imperial Manila,” for hastened economic development on the provincial/local level. However, any political science student knows that both objectives are attainable, and effected faster via legislation — and this presidency, rather than an expensive, circuitous, politicized, fluid process of Charter revision.

Constitutional Convention? Constituent Assembly? Congress voting separately or jointly? “Imperial Manila” must be tamed by over 2/3 of the Lower House. As residents of provincial districts and representatives of local interest! What of governors, municipal mayors, VMs, and councilors leagues? What is neutering them all? Today’s punching bag is “Imperial Manila.” In federalism, “Imperial Cebu” and the like?

Another approach is, have Congress revisit RA 7160 the Local Government Code. Pass stronger legislation for the purposes. Also, empower Regional Development Councils to chart sub-national infra, investment, economic, etc., projects. Amend percentages for Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA), with congressional initiative, or intervention. What is fair between national and local government? A 55%-45% sharing? 50%-50%?

Add, an “automatic retention” provision on IRA from national taxes at LGU level? Enforce Supreme Court’s “Mandanas Doctrine” of May 2019, based on Art X, Sec. 6 of the Constitution. LGUs’ share from National Government rises with customs duties, VAT, excise tax, documentary taxes in the new computation of IRA, with “automatic release.” These approaches are safer.

History warns that federated sovereignties and republics are disruptive of national unity, there is the ever-present danger of territorial balkanization and dis-integration of unions, when sub-national identities, regional ethnicities, are politically punctuated. Plus foreign interests fanning the flames of self-determination.