Why Not Make the Current Regions “Federal States”?
By Apolinario Villalobos
The clamor to make the country’s form of government “federal”, can be fast- tracked by giving the current regions a personality resembling that of “states”. In the process, the useless Senate and Congress will be eliminated. There will still be President and the Prime Minister can be added to the organizational set up. But the government think-tanks should come up with an appropriate title that can be used by those who will represent each region. The levels of governor, mayor and barangay chairman will be maintained as the autonomous regions shall assume heavier responsibilities in view of their self-governing status.
The present government has already established the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) as well as, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but due to constraints from the “corners” that block the smooth flow of functions, they failed to deliver expected results. Perhaps, the rest of the regions can be regrouped according to their commonality in dialect or regional culture, and they can assume regional names, such as, perhaps, Region of Christian Mindanao (RCM), Bikol Region (BR), Winaray Region (WR), Katagalugan Region (KR), Marikudnon Region (MR, for Panay Island and nearby islets), etc. Along this line, the number of regions will be reduced.
It should be noted that despite the division of the country into regions to supposedly accelerate the delivery of services to the Filipinos, the expected result did not happen, as still, negligence is very evident. Far-flung barangays failed to have decent school houses, bridges are not built to connect villages, even “farm to market” roads did not materialize as promised by Congressmen, even ending up as “ghost projects”.
If these fused regions will be made autonomous, benefits and services will definitely flow directly and speedily down to the constituents. Being autonomous, the flow of authority will now emanate only from the Regional Head to the governor, mayor, and the barangay chairman. With the reduced layers in the bureaucracy, the governor, mayor and barangay chairman who are directly in contact with their constituents will be forced to involve themselves in all projects. Also, they will have the sole authority to prioritize projects as they deem necessary. In this regard, it is important that the qualifications of the Barangay Chairman are upgraded.
As the flow of function and responsibility has been compressed, auditing will be made easy so that flaws in the project implementation and misconduct committed in the process, can be easily identified or detected.
The Philippines is so fragmented because of its island and islet components. This situation is made worse by the location of the central government at the northern main island. Clearly, the government is hindered by bodies of water and undeveloped road system, making it ineffective in uniting the country. This inadequacy is magnified by the corruption resulting from red tapes that have become worse in time, every time new set of administrators find their way to the halls of the government, through dubious election process and appointments. And, the only way to do this drastic change could be through a total revision of the Constitution whose latest amendments during the time of President Cory Aquino, seemed to even have made it more ineffective.