A Netizen’s Commentary on the ConCom’s proposed Federal Constitution (Part IV)

Please read the first three parts of my commentary (Part I, Part II & Part III) before reading on.

In this second to the last section of the 5-part commentary of ConCom’s draft Federal Constitution, we will look deeper over the heart of the matter. How federal is our country going to be?


Article XI. Federated Regions and the Autonomous Federated Regions of Bangsamoro and the Cordilleras

The general picture

In federalism, you need to carve out how many units that form the country.

The basis of the division can be on the geographic, ethnic, linguistic and/or historical reasons. In addition, the potential stability and economics of the region.

In the current state of countries employing the federal system, it can be divided from 2 (Saint Kitts & Nevis) to 85 subjects (Russia). But where would the Philippines suit?

One of the worst reasons posed in federalism would be the economic instability, juridical overlap and fracture of goverance in a unit. So having 82 (all provinces and Metro Manila) units would be disadvantageous and unmanageable to oversee.

How about three — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao — to clearly fit the meaning of the flag? There will be a problem for the last two as it is easily outnumbered in representation, not to mention not getting along with internal ethnolinguistic divide in all three.

In a House bill filed by Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado, it will be divided into five states: Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, Bangsamoro, and Mindanao. Still, it will not get along for ethno-linguistic groups.

If we want to avoid the extremes (3 to 82), you have to compromise and land in the Goldilocks zone. I say, about near the 20s would be the reasonable range.

So far, ConCom’s number is 18; the basis: the 2015-2017 Regions (which included the recently-abolished Negros Island Region).

However, I think it’s could not get along with other groups due to linguistic and geographic differences and they want their self-determination and identity:

  • The province of Pangasinan constitutes currently the majority of the population of Region I and they speak overwhelmingly Pangasinense than Ilocano.
  • How about Zambales? It’s a melting pot of a province but I think the Sambal people wanted their own identity.
  • During reclassification, Palawan was confusing which region it resided back in 2005 — it’s either on IV-B or VI. Not to mention, the province is distinct from the common background and potential from the rest of the current region. With their own government, this would benefit the Cuyonon people in order to save their language from extinction.
  • Masbate may have been part of the Bicol region despite the physical separation but in bio-geographic and sociolinguistic perspective, it has a stronger affiliation/connection with Visayas. The residents speak dominantly in Masbateno, not Bicolano.
  • Bulacan and Aurora may have been in the Region III today but both provinces dominantly speak Tagalog than Kapampangan. It may be sad to part ways, but I think they should join with Region IV-A.

This is the how I mapped a federal Philippines, which is inspired by a federal Philippines’ Multiply blog site years ago before converting into an e-commerce website.

My Federal PH

However, after the delineation comes the naming convention.

Without expressing the names of Federated Regions, I assume ConCom would use the name of the regions, acronym and compass-based, than their Roman numeral designations.

However, I beg to differ. Federated countries such as United States, Canada, Malaysia and Germany, sparely used cardinal directions in naming their states or provinces. I already made my proposal of names in an open discussion in Joe America’s The Society of Honor blog last year:

* Region I will still be the State of Ilocos, but Pangasinan has got to go on their own.
* The entire Region II will still be the State of Cagayan.
* The entire CAR will still be the State of Cordillera.
* Region III might have to cut off. Pampanga, Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac will be the State of Pampanga due to the major river. Zambales might have to live on their own. Aurora and Bulacan are misplaced and might move in to a new state.
* Region IV-A will have to admit Aurora and Bulacan but to appease non-Tagalogs, they have to dub a new name: the State of Rizalia (named after Rizal).
* Region IV-B will have to let Palawan go on their own. The rest will be called the State of Mimaro.
* Region V will maintain as the State of Bicol.
* Region VI will be called the State of Panay.
* Region VII will be called the State of Cebu
* Region VIII will be called the State of Leyter-Samar
* Negros Island Region will still carry the name as the State of Negros.
* Region IX will still be called the State of Zamboanga
* Region X will still be called the State of Bukidnon
* Region XI will be maintained as the State of Davao
* Region XII will be called the State of Cotabato.
* Region XIII will be the State of Caraga
* ARMM will stay, as it was proposed, the State of Bangsamoro

My version will have 22 divisions. I agree that no Federated Region should secede.

Regional Legislature

The Regional Assembly is unicameral and that’s OK with me but I think it should be pure single-member district composition.

Once the full package of a plebiscite is passed, the potential regions should summon their constitutional convention and set a number of representatives to be carved in their Regional Constitution.

If I were them, I think the most populous state/region’s legislature will be at least 20 but at most 150, half of my expected composition of the House of Representatives.

Here is the Google spreadsheet I made on how many solons in each regional assembly, based on the recent Census (2015).

I decided to set the number of solons based on the multiples of the initial number of Congressional representatives. So that by 2022, if they vote on one Congressional district, they will also vote for two or more regional assemblymen.

Note, I made the Federal Capital Region set to 34 (two times 17 LGUs) and it will be apportioned by population on the participating units.

Regional Executive

I prefer the Regional Executive to be directly elected by its people and the Regional Vice Governor should be the Presiding Officer of the Regional Assembly just provincial vice governors do to their respective Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Regional Judiciary

The creation of the Regional Supreme Court, Regional Court of Appeals and Regional Trial Courts is OK but it should be defined on qualifications on their Regional Constitution.

Bangsamoro and Cordillera

ConCom’s federalism is assymmetrical, just like India, due to special treatment of such people. For me, I think both should apply as the rest of the Regions/States.

Article XII. Distribution of Powers of the Government

The essentials of federalism is how power is distributed between the Federal (National) and the Regional. It must expessively be clarified.

SECTION 1. The Federal Government shall have exclusive power over:
(a) Defense, security of land, sea, and air territory
(b) Foreign affairs
(c) International trade
(d) Citizenship, immigration and naturalization
(e) Monetary policy and federal fiscal policy, banking, currency
(f) Elections
(g) Inter-regional infrastructure and public utilities, including telecommunications and broadband networks
(h) Federal crimes and justice system
(i) Civil, family, property, and commercial laws, except as may be otherwise provided for in this Constitution
(j) Customs and tariffs
(k) Postal service
(l) Intellectual property
(m) Regulation and licensing of professions
(n) Law and order
(o) Prosecution of graft and corruption cases
(p) Competition and competition regulation bodies
(q) Promotion and protection of human rights
(r) National socio-economic planning
(s) Science and technology
(t) Social security benefits
(u) Time regulation, standards of weights and measures

Section (f) reminds me of Malaysia’s SPR but I think we should do the Canadian approach. Same thng should apply to sections (n), (o), (p), (q), (s) and (t).

Section (m) makes it clear that the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) is still a federal government agency. But I hope they should establish every regional offices with a limited amount of time to avoid the congestion in Sampaloc.

SECTION 2. Within their regional territory, the Federated Regions shall have exclusive power over:
(a) Infrastructure, public utilities and public works
(b) Socio-economic development planning
(c) Parks and recreation
(d) Financial administration and management
(e) Business permits and licenses
(f) Tourism, investment, and trade development
(g) Economic zones

(h) Creation of sources of revenue
(i) Local government units
(j) Municipal waters
(k) Culture and language development
(l) Land use and housing
(m) Sports development
(n) Indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare
(o) Justice system

Section (d), (h) and (o) should apply in both spheres. Plus, where will the education system, including those in state universities in colleges, fall? What about vehicle registration? What about public transportation? Maybe it’s shared powers.

Maybe the ConCom thought of US Associate Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous coinage of the concept where the state (or in their case, regional) governments can become the “laboratories of democracy” — where they may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.

Article XIII. Fiscal Powers and Financial Administration

Taxation is the lifeblood of the government. Without taxes, where will you get the services?

On the taxation power of the federal government, I think they should impose income, corporate, excise and VAT at an applied minimum rate; the regions will supply the rest, if convenient. The customs duties are all theirs.

About the Federal Intergovernmental Commission, isn’t the Council of Regional Governors a replacement of the powerless League of Provinces?

Part V, the last of the series, will be up tomorrow.


One thought on “A Netizen’s Commentary on the ConCom’s proposed Federal Constitution (Part IV)

  1. Pingback: A Netizen’s Commentary on the ConCom’s proposed Federal Constitution (Part V) | Timow P

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