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Rizal’s ‘Federalism’

“…AS the tendency of countries that have been tyrannized over, when they once shake off the yoke…like the beat of the pendulum, by a law of reaction the Islands will probably declare themselves a federal republic”. Jose Rizal, ‘The Philippines a Century Hence’

The cited paragraph from Jose Rizal’s opus has become the seminal foreword for one identified group moving for the adoption of a federal form of government. The predicate laying for a total departure in the mode of governance from the current unitary system, by this argument, is to be understood as one of historical synchronicity, if not fealty.

Advancing the national hero’s thinking in the political clime obtaining, presenting as evidence the said forecast by “probably”, makes for a strong argument. To their mind, a convincing coupling of the “thunder with lightning”, given the pointing stick of history’s moral ascendancy speaking via the national hero and the guiding post of “what form of government” is viewed for the nation. But as caveat, my commentary is limited to the context of Rizal’s thinking vis-a-vis his prediction. This may be plainly read in the very same reference in terms of validated historical specificity and correctness, and not of federalism. The latter being a separate issue for disquisition. Note: 1) Rizal’s Century visioning was a serial and fortnightly piece published in La Solidaridad September 1889-January 1890.

A time capsule of genius but many years deficient of the Republic declared in 1898, conjointly – the first in Asia, and eight years forward his review. Events fast evolving and in the uniqueness of conditions warranting, however provided redemptive succor instead in a non-federal form but national government established in Cavite. This was the same Rizal who wisely counseled versus an unprepared revolution, his martyrdom providing the propellant for the very event he forestalled; 2) Rizal was comparing the “Old order of Europe” against the “New World” of the United States cutting its umbilical cord from Mother England as a libertarian State. In such a contour of two choices, Rizal could envision the “freest form of government” at the time.