JOSE ABUEVA, talking to Manolo Quezon on The Explainer (ANC), repeats the mantra of justification for the idea of Philippine Federalism--that it will bring government closer to the people. It was his answer to virtually every question raised by the audience ("Will it reduce corruption? Will it promote economic development? Will it make government more efficient? Will it make popularity less important a factor in electability of public officials?").
Yet the hypothesis that a federal system will bring government closer to the people is apparently controverted by an obvious architectural fact about Federalism--that it will necessarily and unavoidably lead to a vast expansion in the levels, agencies and personnel involved in government. Under the 11-state vision of a Federal Republic of the Philippines sponsored by Nene Pimentel and the Senate, for example, it is inconceivable to me that we shall end up with a smaller government if it is adopted. On the contrary, who can honestly argue that we won't end up with eleven times the government we have now. "Devolution" under the federalist fantasy is just a deceptive buzzword for multiplication as every new federal state acquires those organizational accoutrements that now litter the present Republic's government. It's all a matter of the Filipino politicians psychology, their obsession for plantilla and org charts.
Abueva himself confirms my fear and suspicion of what a disaster this will actually lead to when he mentions the effects of devolving "education" to those eleven (or whatever number) of newly enfranchised government homunculi--the adoption of multiple languages of instruction as a way of "showing respect" for local cultures. I think it will be irresistable for State Chief Executives and their political leaders not to engage in such linguistic jingoism and thus accelerate the complete Balkanization of the country.
At bottom, I think of persistent attempts to perform such radical reconfigurations of the country's Constitutional makeup as the desire of a certain people to imitate or acquire the God-like powers and actions of our former colonial masters--to found the nation in their own image and conception--rather than to engage in harder more mundane task of actually building it!
I'm for reforming the Constitution in small, concrete ways that address it's many flaws in small digestible and perhaps largely reversible steps. The Federalism proposal however strikes me as the logical fiddlesticks of Big Government fantasists like Abueva and Pimentel.
On Pia Hontiveros' show, Nene Pimentel reveals perhaps the most objectionable feature of his proposal: there will be a right to secede (by a two thirds vote of a State's population with Congressional approval). I think this is a completely hare-brained idea (and please don't bring up Canada!)