Lawyer against PH federalism: You cannot change who we are by changing our government system - The Daily Sentry

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lawyer against PH federalism: You cannot change who we are by changing our government system

Lawyer May Pono took it upon herself to educate the netizens on why amidst support, federalism as a system of government will not work for the Philippines the same way that it is working for the United States of America and Australia.
PH Federalism / Photo from Philippine Asian News Today

According to Pono, she decided to take on the lengthy post because she did not want to be “faulted” for her silence.

The first thing she tackles is that just because some countries have done the system successfully does not mean that the Philippines should follow suit. Certain standards and circumstances must be taken into account.

She says that unlike, USA and Australia, the Philippines is a thousand times smaller in terms of land area. The USA has about 9.834 million square kilometers, and Australia has about 7.692 million square kilometers. The Philippines on the other hand, only has 300,000 square kilometers.

She continues on to say that the size of these bigger countries was the reason why they had to change to federalism. It was born out of necessity, she says. But the Philippines does not need this.

The second thing she says is the process by which the countries adopted federalism. The USA and Australia started off as colonies and separate independent states that decided to come together to form one government. Thus the process was easier to be a success of. The Philippines on the other hand, began as one state, and federalism will chop off the country into smaller states. She says that the problem with this is that people want to change the system of government, blaming it purely on the system on why the country is not progressing. But this, Pono says, is not true. She says that it is not the system of government, but the people that are elected into office that is the problem.

Ending her post, she says that changing the government should not be because the Philippines is jealous of the success of other countries. If need to be changed, it should be because we need it, not because we do not have it.

Read her full post here:

"I HAVE DECIDED TO SPEAK UP. Until recently, I have kept mum on the issue of federalism because I am not an expert on the subject. But I have decided to change that. I realized that if I do not speak out, and by stroke of misfortune federalism is approved (as it is likely going to be approved), I will be partly to blame for not saying anything. And so I speak out today so that tomorrow, I cannot be faulted for my silence.
Attorney May Pono / Photo from her Facebook account

When people speak highly of federalism, they are usually looking at the USA and Australia as role models. They think that since federalism is "successful" in these countries, then it is something that we must adopt.

But what is usually missed, if not intentionally left out in the discussion of federalism, are two very important reasons why their federalism cannot possibly work in our country.

First is SIZE. The US has a land area of about 9.834 million square kilometers, while Australia has a land area of about 7.692 million square kilometers. The Philippines, by comparison, has an area of only 300,000 square kilometers.

Federalism in both the USA and Australia is therefore borne out of necessity. Given the enormous landmass of both countries, there is no way government function can be effectively carried out by a singular "national" or central government.

Second is the PROCESS. In both countries, what you see as "states" today were once colonies with their own independent governments. In the US, they began as British colonies that were formed around 1600 with the European colonization of the Americas. In Australia, they started out as six self-governing British colonies which, in 1901, entered into an agreement with each other in order to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

In other words, what you see as the American and Australian nations today did not start out as one nation. They started out as many smaller nations who decided to come together and be unified under one government. To govern the "national" governments that they already had, a federal government became necessary.
Philippine Federalism / Photo from CNN Philippines

Our case is the exact opposite. We are only ONE VERY SMALL state, and yet we want to break ourselves up into much smaller states in order to create an artificial federation. But why? Because our system of government sucks? It is not the system of government that sucks. It is the people we elect into office that give government a bad name. If we want a better government, we change the people that run it. We do not change the system.

Think about it: if we cannot rule ourselves as one nation today, how effective do you think can we be at ruling ourselves as several independent mini-states? I don’t see the logic nor the necessity, only pride and the need for some people to have their platforms implemented at all cost - even if it violates all logic and common sense.

The federal system of the USA and Australia were borne out of necessity. Ours, if one is instituted, will be borne out of envy. We envy these countries because of their prosperity. We want to copy their system because we think that by doing so, we will also copy their prosperity.

It is also borne out of pride. We refuse to admit that our failure as a nation is OUR OWN DOING, because we refuse to take responsibility for our own actions, and we refuse to accept that change is in our hands, not in the hands of one person we elect every six years. In our pride, we refuse to admit that we failed because we insist on waiting for change to happen, much like the proverbial Juan Tamad, waiting for the guava fruit to fall. We would rather blame the system and everything else rather than admit that as a people, we have fallen short.

If we think that by becoming federal, we will become as prosperous as the USA and Australia, then we are dreaming. These countries are what they are because of who their people are. And we are what we are because of who we are. And you cannot change who we are by changing our government system. As one character said in the old movie of Sharon Cuneta:

“Ang matsing, balutin mo man ng ginto, ay matsing pa rin.”

Nothing external can change who we are inside. The change must come from within. Until that change comes, you can change the color of the sky and cause the sun to set in the east, but the Philippines will remain the same: dreaming of better days to come."