Politics

[B-SIDE Podcast] Federalism, parliamentarism, and regional autonomy

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In this B-Side episode, former presidential candidate Norberto B. Gonzales talks to Businessworld reporter Patricia B. Mirasol about federalism, parliamentarism, and regional autonomy.

TAKEAWAYS

Regional autonomy will pave the way for federalism.

“Every region [must be able to] economically survive … Let’s go with regional autonomy first, and then, later on, let the people decide if they want to become a state,” Mr. Gonzales said. 

Instead of directing infrastructure development toward Metro Manila, a decentralized government can focus on establishing economic centers in every region and connecting these hubs to each other.

In the face of international conflict, neutrality is no longer an option.

With the the growing rift between the United States and China and tension in the West Philippine Sea, Mr. Gonzales floated the idea of making the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) a federal state.

“Can you imagine the Federal State of Southeast Asia?” he said. All the agreements in preparation towards federalism in the ASEAN region are almost there, save one: a defense agreement.  

The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) can always be revived, he added. 

Pinagkakaguluhan tayo ng mga superpowers [The superpowers are fighting over us]. The small guys should get together … We are entering a new world. Hindi na tayo puwede neutral [We can no longer be neutral.]”  

A parliamentary system provides the necessary checks and balances, opportunities for real discussion. 

Sectors that cannot produce national constituencies can be represented in parliament, Mr. Gonzales pointed out, which is crucial for their self-deteremination.

“I am biased for the parliamentary system because every major issue is discussed,” he said. 

Mr. Gonzales, who is also in favor of a unicameral legislature, said there aren’t any checks and balances between the executive and legislative chambers at present. 

“It’s just one family rotating and transferring from the executive and legislative,” he said. “In a parliamentary system, the judiciary … has the necessary power to check the ones running the government.” 

Recorded in the BusinessWorld Studio in New Manila, Quezon City, in Aug. 2022. 

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