Lean and mean federalism


THE consultative committee (Con-com) tasked by the President to recommend the type of federal government that should be adopted by the country voted to choose the U.S. model of federalism just by raising hands, according to reports. The vote was 11 for the presidential-federal format against 7 who chose a hybrid format or semi-presidential format. One voted for the parliamentary format.

The virtual ponente for the pro-presidential format was former chief justice Reynato Puno as his justification of the presidential-federal form became the reports’ reference point. His reason for his choice was that he doesn’t want to experiment with other federal forms of government and the semi-presidential setup because it would be a “leap to the unknown”.

Not guts, no glory. The reason we’re changing the government format is to try other modes and that certainly entails exploration. For all we know, mixing the presidential and federal formats would be treading on dangerous waters because we will have the same dog with a different collar. The disadvantages of the presidential format could water down the advantages of the federal system

The federal parliament is the best form of government to adopt because it is more efficient and less costly than the convoluted presidential-federal system. A single parliament where the leader of the land is chosen by the people’s representatives does away with expensive elections so that taxpayers’ money can instead be channeled to social services and infrastructure. Passing laws would not be redundant and only one group of legislators would be paid.

Puno wants to put his bet on a government system that is already familiar to Filipinos. But many, including him, are not unfamiliar with the parliamentary system, the Batasang Pambansa, during the Marcos era.

That National Assembly was a lean and mean political and legislative organization that produced laws with only one approval process. It helped the executive branch function well in attending to the needs of the people because the administration is not bogged down by too much politics. Patronizing the concept doesn’t mean supporting the Marcoses or breeding a new dictatorship but letting Filipinos experience efficient governance.

The Con-com should be reminded that we are replacing the current presidential system of government because it failed to make development and opportunities inclusive to all Filipinos, rich or poor, for generations. Applying the same leadership format under a new governance system would make federalism efforts pointless. It may make the federalism move an exercise in futility because we are going to end up with the same banana.

p: wjg