In broad strokes, this article would like to emphasize that from the Philippine perspective, the debate on decentralization, devolution and local autonomy has not been new. There has been discourse on autonomy as a subject of many policies including the Malolos Constitution, and Barrio Charter Act of the 1950s. The idea of a federal structure for the Philippines was also articulated by Jose Rizal in the late 1800s as part of the continuing search and design for the appropriate politico-administrative system for the country. This was also re-articulated by former Philippine President Jose P. Laurel, and later by his son, Salvador Laurel, who was the President of the Nacionalista Party of the Philippines. Furthermore, the call to adopt federalism has taken significance due to the 25th anniversary of the Local Government Code of the Philippines which was celebrated last year.
The proposed shift to federalism must be also seen within a broad politico-administrative and historical context, as part of the continuing search for the appropriate structures and processes responsive to the needs of the country at a particular historical moment. The federalism discourse may be framed as follows: a) locate it within the discourse of decentralization and devolution, b) utilize it as a tool for nation-building, c) plan and implement it as an instrument for development to address the inequities among the regions, and d) use it as an instrument to address the conflict in Mindanao.
This text forms part of a forthcoming article that I co-wrote.
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