At the moment, every boy and his dog is writing one or another bit of “analysis” on the matter of the Philippines’ transformation into a federal republic. Under a federal system of government, each state is given autonomy to sort out its own affairs leaving the feds to handle the bigger issues of national consequence like national defense, taxation, foreign policy, the postal service, etc. States will then be at liberty to chart their own destinies just like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has presumably been doing since being granted autonomy in 1989.
There really is no need to quibble on “practical details” as most garden-variety pundits are wont to do in wrapping their heads around this matter. The bigger concept at work here is the idea that, given autonomy and freedom to do as they please, people (and states) would set out to define strategic goals that best fit their unique natures and do what is in their best interests. The underlying assumption here is that all parties involved in the federal journey are adult enough to use their freedom and autonomy wisely.
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The reality is, not all people and not all communities of people are created alike. Like how a brood of kids who were raised by the same parents under the same households always turn out into different adults and go on to achieve different degrees of success (or failure), states that are set free to deal with the wonderful world of federalism will very likely exhibit different outcomes over the long-term. In essence, a federal republic will provide an environment that will set apart the men from the boys. Those that have an inherent capability to prosper will have a higher probability of becoming prosperous states, and those that have less inherent ability will languish. That’s just the way it’s gonna be.
In short, under a federal republic, each Philippine state will have only one scapegoat for failure — itself. Those states that go on to succeed and prosper will be at full liberty to laugh all the way to the bank while patting themselves on the back.
Many of these two-bit pundits will cite the sad case of the ARMM as a scare mongering tactic to turn Filipinos off to the merits of a federal system. Unfortunately for them, the ARMM is just one case study in what could potentially be a set of a dozen or so states serving as competititve case studies in a fully-federalised Philippine republic. There will be winners and losers much the same way as if you tip a dumptruck of twenty-year-old Filipinos into a 12-foot deep swimming pool. There will be some that will swim and some that will sink. Those that sink will simply have to learn how to breathe underwater if no one comes to save them. Those that swim will be in the perfect position to save those who sink if they fancy the prospect.
The nature of the outcome of giving autonomy to Philippine states will be no different in principle to the outcome of the various former colonies of the world gaining independence from their imperial masters over the last 100 or so years. Some went on to become First World wonders like Singapore. Others remained stunted in the Third World up to the present. Freedom and autonomy are twin bitches — because people’s true inherent capabilities get found out when set free and given autonomy.
So Filipinos shouldn’t be afraid of federalism. They will find out the truth about their inherent abilities to prosper given freedom and autonomy. They will learn the truth about themselves.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.