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“Over-concentration of political and economic powers is very bad for the country. We cannot effectively face tomorrow with tools of yesteryears. ‘Bulok na sistema, palitan na!””

Our under-development and disorder are that deep and widespread resulting to massive poverty in the country. Yes, there’s no “quick fix” to our problems because it’s systemic among other things. Even if we change Presidents several times or have more “EDSAs” nothing will come out of these if we do not undertake the needed radical (from the root) reforms. And assuming we start said reforms today, hopefully we can reverse our depressing situation maybe 15 or 20 years from now. Yes, it’s going to be a long-range process. This is the truth all Filipinos must be aware of. Hence, let’s not kid ourselves. The earlier we appreciate, accept and act on this reality the better for everyone. “Wala ng bolahan.”

One of the culprits that compound our predicaments is the obsolete / unresponsive / unjust Unitary System of government we presently have. Today it is passé and could no longer answer the demands of our people and of the new millennium. And if we dilly-dally in changing our Unitary System, our poverty will surely worsen and our country might face a bloody revolution in the near future. It is that serious my friends.

Let me repeat for the benefit of those who missed my previous article where I recited the ills of our highly centralized Unitary System. Here they are:

1. Our present Unitary System of government has already outlived its usefulness in the Philippines and is now obsolete or passé. Such out-moded System is experiencing tremendous difficulty in addressing the demands of the new millennium such as that of a globalizing economy, information age wherein knowledge is currently the major source of wealth; and rapid science and technological development.

2. The Unitary System we have which is a very centralized one has resulted in detachment of leadership or decision-making from the people; too complex and complicated coordination between government agencies; long and circuitous communication lines; and the central government.

3. Our Unitary System continues to promote economic disparities and political inequities. It perpetuates “Manila Imperialism” with the end result of imbalanced development in the country where a parasitic megapolis (Metro Manila) siphons most of the resources or wealth of the nations. Thus, our countryside remains undeveloped.

4. The country’s Unitary System with the bloated national bureaucracy is a model of inefficiency or waste; of wide-spread graft and corruption; of tremendous red tape; etc. It is considered as one of the worse in Asia.

5. Our rigid Unitary System cannot respond to the aspiration for self-determination or self-rule, which is now a universally recognized right especially of Muslim and Lumad Filipinos. This contributes much to lawlessness and disorder in the Philippines more so in Mindanao.

6. A Unitary System such as ours encourages dependency, control, uniformity apathy and other disvalues or counter-values. It stifles initiatives, creativity and innovativeness, resulting in unproductive and uncompetitive human resource.

One more thing. Even if our economy slightly grow, the fruits of the growth will always land on the hands of the few elite families which control most of the country’s wealth. Hence, our rich continues to get richer while our poor get poorer compliment of our obsolete / unresponsive / unjust Unitary System. Clearly, no hope for our disadvantaged sectors with this present anomalous set-up.

That’s why we shout: “Wake up Filipinos! Dismantle this ‘Manila Imperialism!’ Change this outmoded Unitary System with more updated / responsive / just Federal System of government.

For this reason, we appeal to our people to be open now to Charter Change or Cha-Cha through Constitutional Convention or Con-Con for this is the only way we will be able to shift to a Federal System of government. This is the most crucial change in our political structure when we undertake constitutional reform.

“But many of our national politicians are trumpeting more the change in our form of government from Presidential to Parliamentary,” correctly observed some of our friends. “And these politicians want Congress to convert itself into a Constituent Assembly and do the serious job of amending / revising our present flawed Constitution. It’s cheaper and faster ‘daw’ this way,” our pals added.

“What is of dire importance to us is the transfer of more political powers and resources from the national government to the local government units. Yes this has something to do with decentralization / devolution. This can be achieved if we shift from Unitary System of government to the Federal System. The change in our form of government from Presidential to Parliament involves the transfer of political powers from the Executive Branch to the Legislative Branch. Thus, most of the political powers still remain in the central government. Therefore, we will still continue to have a highly centralized Unitary System which is detrimental to our people as we are experiencing presently,” I explained to them.

“Although we also support the change from Presidential to Parliamentary form of government, this is to us is secondary. Our primary concern is the shift from the highly centralized Unitary System to a highly decentralized Federal System of government. Without the latter, the former to us is not a big deal. With the latter, even without the former, we will already be very happy, “I further pointed out. Of course, better yet with both the latter and the former changes.

“A Constituent Assembly will never adopt a Federal System of government because our present Congress’ power will be greatly diminished by doing so. It is only through a Constitutional Convention where we will have a fighting chance to adopt a Federal System. Hence, beware of a Constituent Assembly to amend / revise our defective 1987 Constitution. It is a ‘Trojan Horse’,” I followed up.

Lastly, let me say that our highly centralized Unitary System continues to promote an oligarchic society in the Philippines. “Ibasura natin itong makapahirap na sistema!” We are racing against time concerning our worsening poverty situation.

Filipinos themselves must change for better – so with our out-moded systems. Both must go hand in hand.

Source: Chito R. Gavino