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Federalism and the Philippines
Article in 50 Shades of Federalism Explores Deepening Decentralisation

How can pursuing decentralisation bring the Philippines closer to federalism? In his research article, Michael Henry Yusingco, LL.M, evaluates the country’s federalism journey and clarifies why he sees the Local Government Code of 1991 as a starting point. A senior member of several academic institutions, Atty. Yusingco is also part of the Federalism Core Group established by the Pimentel Institute for Leadership and Governance (PILG) with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF).

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The Philippines has been on a continuing decentralisation project since independence in 1946. The country’s 1987 Constitution has a local autonomy prescription which sets the standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization”. However, the present decentralisation system established by the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 has failed to meet this constitutional benchmark. Proposals to shift to a federal system remain a part of this ongoing decentralisation mission, but its perceived connection to constitutional change has effectively stymied the federalism advocacy because Filipinos do not support constitutional reform. Nevertheless, the goal to deepen decentralisation in the Philippines still stands. Hence, amending or replacing the LGC to reflect the constitutional standard of “maximum decentralization, short of federalization” must still be pursued. The rethinking of federalism as being part of a menu of decentralisation arrangements is an alternative approach to consider. Corollary to this, a deliberate resort to federalism studies can significantly assist legislative efforts to reach the “maximum decentralization” standard.

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The opinions and views expressed in this research article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or views of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.