In the coming weeks and months, the discussions to amend the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines will go full force. These amendments, if passed by the constituent assembly and ratified by the people, will mean a radical transformation of the way things are being run in the country.
One of these key amendments is the shift from a unitary form of government to a federal form of government. This means that the traditional highly-centralized powers based in Metro Manila will be devolved as the different regions of the country will have more say with regards to their respective development.
With that said, the question being asked is what and how will Metro Manila benefit from federalism. What does Metro Manila stand to gain from it, if any? Let this post provide some insight to these questions as we look at the metropolis’ own problems that not many people realize it has.
Decongestion, in more ways than one
One of the most discussed problems of Metro Manila and how federalism can address them is the problem of congestion. We are talking about a heavy concentration of people and businesses in the metropolis just because it is the center of everything in the country, so to speak. Almost all the big companies, the prestigious universities, top tier hospitals, the classy shopping malls, etc. are based in the metropolis.
As a result, the metropolis is suffering every day from heavy traffic on the streets. While it can be said that the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is working on address this problem through infrastructure under the “Build, Build, Build” program, there is a need for a more long-term solution . Infrastructure can only do so much and there may come a point in the future that even the present infrastructure would no longer be enough.
There is also the population issue. and we are not just talking about the metropolis’ 12+ million inhabitants. We are also talking about the additional 3+ million coming into the metropolis from the nearby provinces every day to work or study. Compounded by the problem of limited urban planning, this is something the metropolis can barely manage anymore. As a result, Metro Manila is facing problems such as informal settlers, as well as the lack of facilities and infrastructure to handle an ever-growing population.
With federalism in place, Metro Manila can have a bit more room to breathe as the different regions will be given more opportunities for development. People and businesses, in turn, may be enticed to relocate and be able to gain more benefits in the process depending on what a region may offer, while the region benefits from the investments gained as a result.
It has to be said though that federalism does not mean that Metro Manila will be decongested drastically. But at the very least, it provides some sort of relief for the metropolis, especially in terms of resource management which hopefully can be translated into becoming a better-managed metropolis.
But of course, decongestion is just half the story for Metro Manila to become a better managed region. There is also the matter of governance, which shall be discussed in the next part.
To be continued