PHILIPPINEFEDERAL REPUBLIC: PROSPECTS Any transition in thePhilippines concerning government modality from presidentialism toparliamentarism will have to take into account and evaluate carefully thefollowing: Historical Political Antecedents The more than 450 years of Philippine history has always beencharacterized by a strong unitary government.
The island nation consideredManila as the central seat of power that all government decisions and policiesemanate there from. The Spanish colonial administration, which governs thecountry, used Manila as the evidence and symbol of Spanish supremacy over thearchipelago. The American regime, which ruled the Philippines in the firsthalf of the 1900s, retained Manila as the core power center and prepared thecountry for a presidential system of government. The Commonwealth government amidst the backdrop of the 1935Constitution promoted centralism as an imperative towards achieving Philippineindependence from the United States. Afterthe Philippines was granted independence in July 1946 by the United States, thecountry immediately underwent a presidential election in spite of its economyin shambles after the end of the Second World War. Thereafter, from 1935 to 2001, nine presidents were at the helmof the state maintaining the same government system that was highly centralizedin a unitary presidential model. In these years, the failures of thepresidential system were glaringly evident in the poor performance of the stateand its economy over the years. Corruption in government was a perennial publicissue and public accountability among political leaders and the publicbureaucracy, as then and now an elusive commodity.
In the recent years, serious discussions on governmentmodalities have been started by academe, civil society and some concernedsectors of government. These public discussions on government and governancewere triggered among others by the dissatisfaction over the incremental failureof government to deliver services and/or perform par public standards andgeneral expectations. The secessionist movement in Mindanao has likewisehastened the search for alternative governments, i.e. federalism.