Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Which Came First, the Union or the States?

Joint Resolution No. 10 -- introduced in April, 2008 by Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel-- resolves as follows: (after a raft of whereases):
NOW, THEREFORE, Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved by the Senate with the House of Representatives concurring, upon a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of both Houses voting separately, to convene Congress into a constituent assembly pursuant to Section 1, paragraph 1 of Article XVll of the Constitution, and revise the Constitution for the purpose of adopting a federal system of government that will create 11 States, constitute Metro-Manila as the Federal Administrative Region, and convert the nation into the Federal Republic of the Philippines.
Joint Resolution No. 10 also names the eleven "States" that would become united under the new FRP (Federal Republic of the Philippines).
1. The State of Northern Luzon;
2. The State of Central Luzon;
3. The State of Southern Tagalog;
4. The State of Bicol;
5. The State of Minparom;
6. The State of Eastern Visayas;
7. The State of Central Visayas;
8. The State of Western Visayas;
9. The State of Northern Mindanao;
10. The State of Southern Mindanao; and
11. The State of BangsaMoro

... in addition to the country's only one center of finance and development in Metro-Manila which shall be constituted as the Federal Administrative Region;

It is a self-evident and significant fact that the above-named eleven "States" do not actually exist as JURIDICAL ENTITIES There is no such thing today as The State of Northern, Central or Southern Luzon, or any of the others, including the "State" of Bangsamoro. Since the proposed Federal Juridical Entity is by definition a union of the enumerated States, it is unavoidable that the above States will have to be created as the separate parts that will unite together in the notional federal republic, a "United States of the Philippines" if you will.

Evidently, Joint Resolution No. 10 envisions the Federal Republic of the Philippines, as a "juridical entity" that is itself a UNION of other juridical entities called 'States' which will unite to create the new federal republic being proposed. And it will be these States that will "ratify" the Federal Constitution.

Can the notional Federal Constitution of the United States of the Philippines even be written and proposed to the people by the Fourteenth Congress of the Unitary Republic of the Philippines? I believe the answer is NO because only the States that will constitute that federal republican union have the authority to enter into and make good that arrangement.

Simply put, the Federalists have to create the States first before the States can create the Union.

Proponents of a shift to federalism often give the example of the United States of America as a model, being the oldest and inarguably the most successful of the genre. But we must confront a most signicant historical difference and future difficulty. Unlike the original Thirteen Colonies which united to form the US of A, the Eleven States of the prospective United States of the Philippines, do not in fact exist as juridical entities today, and as JR.10 states, they must be created simultaneously with the establishment of their Union.

For indeed, where are the Philippine entities that would vote to federate into the Federal Republic of Pimentel? It should be recalled that the American Colonies agreed that their "perpetual union" and the US Federal Constitution would be deemed ratified by all if 9 out of 13 of the States held successful plebiscites favoring the Union.

The Filipino Federalists have their work cut out for them from the git-go. They must first lay the predicate, so to speak, for the proposed FRP by literally creating first the juridical entities, the Eleven States and the Federal Administrative Region (Manila) that will later constitute the Union.

An important question and predicament now intrudes:

Can the Union of States called a "federal republic" by the Joint Resolution come into existence before or simultaneous with the creation of the very entities that have the sole and exclusive power to enter into that said Union? For eample, and not to put too fine a point on it, the United States of America is a union of 50 states, not 300 million citizens. The US Constitution was never ratified in a universal national plebscite since the Thirteen Colonies decided and agreed in 1787 that the Constitution would be deemed ratified if 9 out of 13 states

I think it is a metaphysical impossibility for the Philippine Congress to create and propose the Federal Republic without first creating and proposing the constituent States as enumerated in the Joint Resolution.

How should the prospective Philippine States be defined, created and proposed? We could take the recently controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA AD) defining the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as a model. To form Eleven States there must be at least eleven plebiscites in which all the persons affected by the establishment of all those eleven new juridical entities must have a chance to ratify or reject the same. In other words, democratic plebiscites must approve of the massive gerrymandering of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays that has to be undertaken just to create the future constituent States of the envisioned Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Before the Federal Republic can be created, established and ratified by the constituting or federating States, those very States must first be created, established and ratified by the people who will become residents and voters in those States. By parity of reasoning, ALL of the people in the Eleven States enumerated by JR 10 ought to be given the opportunity to decide in plebiscites if THEY want to be part of one or another of this set of Eleven States.

The Palace and Congress have used the concept of requiring popular plebiscites to ratify such rearrangements as the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and even in the controverted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) where barangay-level plebiscites are being propoed to "expand" the territory of the ARMM (though under MILF stewardship and management!)

But it would seem to be a requirement of equitable treatment that if the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) can only be formed after a plebiscite, so too with the other "States." For example, the people in the presently existing provinces whether their people will allow their province to become a part of a proposed "State" of the future federal republic.

I think these and other very basic and simple considerations represent insuperble stumbling blocks for the least those who are in a hurry. The trajectory," (as Press Secretary Jess Dureza is fond of putting it nowadays) involves the Congress convening itself into a Constituent Assembly and crafting a new Federal Constitution of the United States of the Philippines before the Constitutional Clock runs out on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in May 2010. As I've shown above, I think, there have to be not one but two SETS of PLEBISCITES, those to create the States, and then those to authorize the Union. These processes cannot be combined and made simultaneous, for it would be absurd to suggest that the same plebiscite creating a given State can also decide if that State will join a federation all of whose prospective members are themselves not yet in existence!

Given less than two years to go before the May, 2010 elections, the prospects Fast-tracked Federalism are dim and problematical.


blackshama said...

The states obviously. The 13 colonies (self governing) became the United States. The Australian self governing colonies federated in 1901 to become Australia.

Similarly, French and British Canadas were self governing before confederation, although the federal history of Canada is different from that of Australia or the US.

The states have sovereignty before they decided to federate. This is what they have to give up for the common good.

In the proposed federation in the Philippines,has any of the so called states have sovereignty? Do they have a claim or exhibited sovereignty in the past?

DJB Rizalist said...

There ought to be no shortcutting of this very basic consideration. It seems that the STATES which must unite to make up the federal republic do not exist and cannot be conjured up by just any Gerry Manderer with a map and ruler, even if he be in the Legislature. The Congress must therefore now claim that it has the Constituent Power to propose an almost entirely new Federal Constitution for ratification at a plebiscite.

But that won't be a "universal national one man one vote" kind of plebiscite. At least it wasn't and isn't of the US of A. Each state must hold a plebiscite and if some agreed upon majority is achieved everyone (each of the States) agrees that their mutual and perpetual Union has been achieved and all are bound by the Federal Constitution.

But since these enumerated PHilippine states don't even exist, it's hard to imagine what leg federalism has to stand on than pure constitutional carpentry, as one wag put it.

J said...

Wow. You enlightened me with this, Dean.

So before the states unite to become a union, they should exist as states first. And when they exist as a state, they get to choose whether thy want to be part of the union or not.

What if these 11 states are created first as juridical entity, only to decide not to join the Philippine federal union?

Just thinking aloud.

Pedestrian Observer GB said...


On the other hand if we go by the sovereign Mafiosi style of governance they are sovereign and in fool errr full control of their regions, lol.

The problem with the Philippines is too much governance, it is all about how they get their loot errr allocation of the government coffers. Too much governance that they actually impede growth because nothing you can do in the land of cheats where the government and their henchmen are not dipping their dirty fingers on any money making venture legitimate or otherwise.

Bren said...

There will be at least 4 terms to call the action of creating the states from the union to bypass the states that create a union. Two possibilities : (i) leapfrogging (to be applauded) (ii) convoluted (to be ridiculed), A third is insidious.

Bren said...

And why don't "they" just merge the provinces into regions, say Mindoro-plus-Palawan-plus-Romblon each under one governing body???? Then this larger body has a better argument to secede from Pinas, or at least be considered a state.

Equalizer said...

"The Cat is Out Of The Bag"

Gloria meets local officials in Pampanga (August 16)

The President did not speak to the media after the meeting but Pampanga officials present said they were happy to announce the president's plan to start more projects in the province and the benefits they would be getting should the Constitution be amended.

"Marami nang dapat palitan sa Konstitusyon natin at mas maganda na hahaba pa ang termino niya tayo din naman ang makikinabang," ("There are many required changes in the constitution and it would be beneficial to extend her term")Masantol mayor Peter Flores, speaking in Kapampangan, told media.

manuelbuencamino said...

As usual politicians are going ass first about turning this country into a nation.

Let's break up the country by creating states so we can become one.

Tongue's Wrath said...

Reverse engineering the Federalization of the Philippines is absurd.

Previously independent sovereign states form unions to complement and share the resources of the others as the others complement and share yours. It cannot be achieved the other way around.

It's a socio-political order brought about by the need for united goals in sustaining the needs of a combined population that would otherwise have been difficult to achieve individually.

That argument alone debunks the need for federalism here. It's a basic law in Mathematics: One divided by any number except itself will never be one. Same in politics, there will never be unity in division.

Let us call it as it is. It is our leaders who have failed us. Not our form of government. Leadership change is the solution.