Federalism in A Nutshell

A Simplified Guide Which Goes Beyond Your Pepe and Dede

The recent brouhaha over that lewd jingle about federalism has brought so much focus on this much-debated topic and with good reason. Whether it is a truth that bad publicity is still publicity, nonetheless, it can be argued that this catalyst of a song and dance number has earned the ire of the general public. At this point, it is clear that it has garnered criticism from both the Duterte supporters and their yellow counterparts. The funny thing is, we now have something familiar to agree on, and it is with a sigh of relief that no matter what our political views are, there are still some standards we can agree on and regardless of how others want to downplay that video or make excuses for it. The crassness and debauchery that it portrayed leave a lot to be desired from those who truly understand what the impact of it was and this coming from an ASEC, a member of the Philippine government, representing the Republic of the Philippines, downright adds insult to injury. Doesn’t even matter that it was accomplished during office hours which leads to nitpicking, such as, is this the best they can come up with during their official office time? And if this is indeed what their brilliant minds can come up with, one is almost afraid to know what will come next.

Federalism defined

Federalism is a system of politics which gives regional governments some form of autonomy on lawmaking and decision making but is still run by the national government on a national level on national issues or issues that affect the entire nation.

In a business analogy, a federalist government can identify closely with a decentralized organization. For those who still don’t understand, let me explain this concept:

Scenario: Juan works in a company, his job is to fix a broken table

In a centralized organization, Juan will need to make a written report to inform his supervisor about the broken table. The supervisor, with a given timeframe, will wait for similar requests from all the Juan’s in his department and when he has enough applications, he will email a request form to the manager. The manager will then look at the request and the corresponding budget and will submit it to the Associate VP, who will scrutinize all budget requests from all his managers. The AVP will let the manager know if the budget was approved and will send an email to the finance department while providing a carbon copy to the manager. The finance department looks at all the budget proposals from and allocates all the budget of the different departments within a given time frame.

Conclusion: The broken table gets fixed six months to a year after it was reported broken

In a decentralized organization, Juan makes a report to his supervisor and the supervisor in turn requests for a budget from his manager. Given that this is a local problem and does not affect the company as a whole, the manager has the decision-making capacity to release a budget to address the issue.

Conclusion: The broken table gets fixed or replaced in a week

Federalism is something like that, and with any form of change, there will always be PROS and CONS attached to the said change, and it is our job to use our brain before we go out into the streets to rally about any form of change.

Advantages of a Federal Form of Government

  • Local problems get identified by locals and will be addressed by the local government

What might fall under this category?


-minimum wage

-traffic problems

– garbage disposal

  • One can argue that this can all be done with the current government, but, under a federal form of government, most of our taxes will be used to address our local problems. We will not be like Juan in the first scenario and wait for years to fix a broken table.
  • Local representation

We, the taxpayers, will be represented by someone who we vote in to be the voice of a state and to serve us. One state = one vote (or whatever is decided later on) surely that will settle the squabbling and the numerous hearings we now see on tv.

  • Accountability of Leaders in Public Office

Is there a loss of public trust and confidence in a government official? No problem, under a federal government, it will be easier to remove a public official and replace him or her. Public Trust ratings will be the real deal and will not be coming from paid surveys. It is the pulse of public approval which becomes the lifeblood of a public official.

  • Crafting individual state policies

Every state has the right to craft their policies. They can even approve gay marriage and divorce if the need is raised and lobbied by the people living in their state.

  • Citizen participation

As the people lobby for specific policies (please look at legally blonde 2 to understand this further) this fosters involvement among the citizenry.

Disadvantages of a Federal Government

  • Promotion of Regional interest
  • Lesser checks and balances to financial management paving the way to graft and corruption
  • Developed regions will have more wealth than the “poorer” regions

Like I said earlier, there is no perfect form of government nor are there perfect politicians. With change comes advantages and disadvantages. However, the more important question to raise is that all the weaknesses of a federal government, are we not experiencing this today in our current form? Is this something so new to us that it makes us shudder in fear and go out into the streets to rally? If we sit down and honestly reflect on all of these, we conclude that we have had no changes since forever, and does it work? Did we progress as a nation as much as we want it to be?

We all know the answers to these questions now it is your turn to sit and think about what should come next for our country.

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