Choose: Retain presidential form of gov’t or go Federalism? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 January 2016 11:45

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

In a presidential form of government the people of the Republic elects a president to lead the government, through a direct vote . The president becomes head of the executive department. To ensure a check and balance in a presidential system, the Constitution embeds in its provisions, a Legislative Department, composed of the Senate (upper house) and Congress (lower house) to enact laws or Republic Acts as the Republic’s policy making body and a Judicial Department to declare whether Republic Acts and Laws are Constitutional or not. These three Departments, Executive, Legislative and Judicial are supposed to be absolutely independent of each other. The only question is, although the Executive (the President) and Legislative Departments ( Senators and Congressmen) are directly chosen by the people through an election called for the purpose, the Judicial Department members or honorable justices are appointed by the President and only cabinet members of the Executive Department need the concurrence of the Legislative Branch through their powerful Committee on Appointments. In this set up, the system of Check and Balance or Balance of Power may sometimes be imperiled. Because Filipino custom, as a clannish people, always believe in “patronage”, “debt of favor”, “utang na loob”, “debe pabor” “utang kabubut-on” or any term you may call in any dialect, that connotes repayment of favor.

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Table Talk is a non-lawyer but only a Political Science major in college and the study of government and its system is a subject matter, therefore, our issue today might not be on the point of view of a lawyer. Since a strong clamor for a federal system for the Philippines is now a “hot topic” as national election is fast approaching and made a platform of government by some presidentiables, we are offering our view as a citizen of the Philippines directly affected by any system the country will adopt.

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The presidential system is highly centralized. Power emanates from the Executive Department and Federalism seeks to decentralize those powers. In fact, the Philippine President is more powerful, technically, than the President of the United States of America, since a U.S. President is a President of many federal states. America’s system of government is unique, it adopts both Presidential and Federal systems and is successful because it governs literate or highly educated American citizens, whose understanding and acceptance of governance is through a literate analysis and not through personal passion and so American people arrived most of the time on a right and truthful decision.

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Presidential and Federal Systems have an advantage and a disadvantage in a country and it highly depends on the character, norms, literacy rate, customs and tradition and other human factors for its success. In taxation and revenue collection and distribution for example. In a presidential system, revenue collection is tasked to a specific government agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Finance Department and disbursement of which and sharing percentage to the many, cities, provinces and municipalities belongs to the Legislative Department. The Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), lifeblood of local governments is specifically allotted by the central government following a standard requirement of area, population and income, etc. to quote the 1987 Local Government Code. Federal System aims to reverse this system by allowing the local governments to decide what to do with their income and how to collect them and local governments decide how much share should be given to the central government but it takes care of funding the federal agencies like police, military and civil employees, aside from infrastracture development budgets. Collection of taxes in a federal state will be decided by the local federal government and the central or national government has nothing to do with local budgeting and expenditures and the IRA is abolished.

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If only corruption is stopped and corrupt officials will not be given the chance to handle the central government, equal distribution of wealth and equal justice is adopted, Presidential form is enough for the progress and development of the Philippines, rather than create a new system of government with old customs and tradition and low literacy rate. The country will be giving birth to new shenanigans in government with new people with old bad habits.

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Scoop: This is my personal view on new systems of government and defect of the present system but the choice is still, “of the people, to the people and by the people”, whatever it is Table Talk is still a natural born Filipino and already literate and enlightened by time and experienced. Agree or disagree.