Federalism 101 (Part 2)

how does federalism works,advantages of federalism, federalism, federalism in the philippines

Ozzias T. Villaver, Jr. | ExecutiveChronicles

Now that we’ve understood the concept of Federalism, let’s analyze how it really works:

(Read first part Federalism 101 article here)

What are the obligations of the national or central government to the regional governments?

There are three main obligations of the national or central government to the regional governments under the constitutional provisions.

  • It shall guarantee to every regional government a republican form of government.
  • It shall protect each of them against invasion.
  • It shall secure each regional legislature, or of the executive (when the legislative cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

What are the obligations of the regional governments to the national or central government?

The regional governments have certain obligations under the Constitution which are essential to the conduct of government.  One of the most important obligations relates to election. “the times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each region by the legislature thereof; but the congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing senators.”  The regions are also obligated by the Constitution to participate in the process of amending the Constitution itself.

How is the relationship between the national or central government and regional governments sustained?

The keynote of the Federalism is cooperation and harmony  between the national or central government and the regional governments. The federal system cannot be effective without cooperation and compromise.  Such harmonious relations are applied in (1) working agreements and other arrangements –formal and informal – between the national or central government and regional governments’ administrative agencies. (2) Enactment of facilitating legislation.  A great deal of cooperation between national or central and regional courts.

How are the financial resources managed in the federal system?

If the governments are to be independent of each other, each much have not only its own powers but also sufficient financial resources to sustain itself and support its assigned functions.  But tax yields are hard to predict over the long run.  Every federation has produced a fundamental disequilibrium between the distribution of functions and the distribution of financial resources. Demands on both levels of government have increased and changed, and the growth of the industrial economy has seriously altered both government functions and government resources. In every case the national or central government has emerged with greater resources than it needs to perform its functions, while regional governments have been left with more functions than they can pay for out of their limited resources.

This imbalance can be resolved in any or all of three ways: (1) Functions may be transferred from the regions to the central government.  This has occurred in every federal system, but it usually encounters serious political objections. (2) Taxes resources may be transferred from the central government to the regions. This, however, rarely solves the problem because it tends to increase the financial inequalities among the regions. (3) Funds may be handed over by the national government to the regions.

How are grant-in-aids programs administered  in the federal system?

The national or central government takes the position to control and regulate most of the grant-in-aids programs.  It may require the regional governments:  (1) to meet certain standards such as use of the merit system in personnel administration, conformity to national engineering, architectural, and other standards, and so on; (2) to match grants or to provide minimum financial support; (3) to establish certain administrative agencies and vest them with authority to deal officially with the appropriate national agencies; and (4) to maintain accounts, make reports, and submit to national inspection.

What are some precautions to   consider in order to sustain the system of federalism?

  • The powers and functions of government should be allocated to that level where they can be most effectively financed and administered.
  • The efficiency of government and quality of services need not deteriorate at any level if steps are taken to improve the organization, personnel, and techniques of several governments.
  • Steps should be taken immediately to provide a more equitable adjustment of revenue resources and a more rational extension of powers, so that governments having responsibilities for facilities and services will have the revenue to finance them and the powers to discharge their responsibilities.

The Philippines is indeed undergoing myriad social, political and economic crisis today. There is therefore a clear signal for the new in-coming President of the country to fulfill his promises to resolve the most primordial problems (of the country) under his real patriotic leadership. The Filipino people await the quick implementation of his eight economic agenda that certainly and inevitably would steer the nation towards the promotion of social, political and economic well-being of every citizen. And so, through the amendment of the Philippine Constitution, President Rodrigo I. Duterte (as he asserted during his campaign) has NOW the answer and the power to cure and cease the present cancerous condition of our country by FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT. 


Lewell, Cass Philips et al. Essential of National Government. Second Edition. New York. American Book Company. @ 1966.

Encyclopedia Americana. International Edition. Philippines. Volume 13. @ 2000.

Grolier International Encyclopedia.;  International Grolier, Inc. Philippines.

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