The federalism hoopla

 

Ever since the subject of federalism has been broach up years back I never was sold out to it.

The current 1987 Constitution was promulgated during the time of Pres. Cory Aquino when she discarded the 1973 Constitution because  “she did not want to derive legitimacy and power from the very institutions that she fought”, saying, she wanted to start anew and break from the “vestiges of a disgraced dictatorship.”

I am just saying this at the outset because the 1973 constitution, to this day, has served us well.

One of the compelling arguments for those trumpeting the federal form of government is that the concentration of power and wealth will now be decentralized such that governance is now done in a regional manner thus making it more convenient and responsive to the immediate need of the people.

So what if the authority will now be localized and to hell with “imperial Manila”?

Are we saying that by changing the Constitution again in order to comply with the requirements of a federal form of government we will finally and ultimately be able to address the country’s political and socio-economic woes?

Can’t we not, for a moment, rationalize that in fact and in truth what has gone wrong all these years that we had been under a presidential form of government is that the people we elected to lead this country did not live up to our highest expectations?

Is the transformation we are expecting from this Constitutional change will also alter completely the character of the people such that peace, tranquility and progress for the nation and the Filipinos will be attained?

Or is the shifting from presidential to federalism only going to be a transition from bad to worse?

And I am not even talking here yet about the enormous expenses to be incurred when it is going to be effected, God forbids.

I had always been pragmatic in my belief that after experiencing the dark days of the Marcos regime the brilliant minds behind the drafting of the 1987 Constitution made sure that what they wrote will do justice to the Filipino people and will be able to stand the test of times.

The 1987 Constitution may not be perfect, but if it is deemed to have failed such that people are calling for it to be re-written, the stark reality is that it is the imperfection of man that has made it deficient.

The election of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency in 2016 has convinced me more than any other time that it only takes a determined, fearless and strong-willed leader who knows his law to make the 1987 Constitution potent and successful.

I find it very ironic that in the same vein Duterte is the very person that is loudly advocating the change to federalism.

It would have served Duterte well had he thoughtfully considered  former Chief Justice Hilario Davide’s warning that shifting to federalism was a “lethal experiment” as it did not suit the Philippines and the “people of our generation and even those of the succeeding generations.” Davide happens to be one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

Davide is not only referring to the Philippines being a third world country with more regions poorer than richer, but more so about our nature as Filipinos.

Davide said that if the shift to federalism were to deal with the imbalance created by an “Imperial Manila,” then this could be done by “effectively and efficiently implementing the relevant provisions” of the present Constitution “for strong local autonomy and decentralization.”

With the kind of president that Duterte is, this could easily be done without spending billions to make federalism workable and sustainable in the whole Philippine archipelago.

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Duterte’s decision to close Boracay

Perhaps one can say that this piece is already water under the bridge since President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the recommendation of the three government agencies, namely, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to close the resort island of Boracay for six months.

The description by no less than the president of the famed place as “cesspool” indeed decidedly put a halt to the influx of tourist to the place.

“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smells of what? Sh*t,” he had said.

Pretty strong and unfavorable words for the local government and stakeholders, but they all had it coming.

I am not writing this to discuss the inadequacies and ineptness of those governing and running their private entities while thinking only of the windfall of earnings they can make at the expense of the tourist who simply wants to experience fun in the Philippines, and the much talked about Boracay in particular, for this issue has received quite a beating already.

But it is perhaps proper and timely to mention here that the shortcomings, the myopic vision, and the vested interests of their own concerns took a toll on the environment, which is an important facet of tourism.

What I want to talk about, therefore, which certainly is not water under the bridge, is in the context of the urgency and necessity of the Boracay closure.

We must admit that the problems that caused embarrassment to Boracay, famous for its powdery white sand and shallow azure water, did not happen overnight, or to put it straightforward, during Duterte’s presidency.

It has been reported that Boracay’s degradation has been blamed on the failure of the local government to enforce ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, and zoning and construction, among others.

Also, that at least 300 hotels, resorts and inns have been ignoring an ordinance that requires them to build their own sewage and wastewater treatment facilities. They have instead been dumping waste into canals meant only for rainwater and surface overflow.

Another upsetting revelation is that four of the nine wetlands on the island, meanwhile, are occupied by a shopping mall, a hotel and around 100 illegal settlers.

Talking about impunity by both the governing body and the governed!

While past administrations acted like the three proverbial monkeys exemplifying the proverbial principle of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, Duterte used his leadership and political will to make a difference in Boracay.

After all, it is the long range plan of sustaining the grandeur of Boracay for the country’s tourism industry that matters most.

 

Garcia dismissal saved by Congress

 

Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia

I am talking of course about Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia who was ordered dismissed from service by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for grave misconduct in connection with the controversial purchase and development of the Balili property in the City of Naga, Cebu when she was still the governor.

I have written articles relative to this controversy some years back which you can see at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/balili-property/.

But as a refresher, this controversy started in 2008 when Garcia, on her second term as Cebu’s governor, authorized the purchase of the 24.92 hectares of the Balili beachfront property for a whooping amount of P98.926 million allegedly for Cebu’s human settlement and seaport project.

The problem however was that when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) surveyed the site it found out that 19.67 hectares of the property was underwater.

As if the survey result was not anomalous enough, what made the deal even worse was that Garcia had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan (SP) when she entered into an agreement with the ABF Construction to undertake the projects intended for the property.

Thus, the graft and malversation case against Garcia that called for her dismissal and “the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits”, according to Morales.

But while the order for Garcia’s dismissal was coursed through House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the latter, however, refuses to implement or enforce it, saying, “there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that.”

This is a very strong statement coming from the House leadership and I don’t think Morales will ever refute it, let alone implement it herself.

What his means therefore is that Garcia stays until her full term is over. Congress saved her.

What an injustice done to the people!

But that is okay.

What is important is that Garcia’s political career is coming to an end sooner or later.

What better and fitting fate for this arrogant woman than banning her from pursuing her political ambitions any longer.

Año-Dela Rosa tandem against police scalawags

 

AFP Gen. (Ret.) Eduardo Año and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa.

In the same manner that Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa welcomes the appointment of newly retired Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año as Special Assistant to the President to help him “supervise the police” pending the one-year ban on Año’s appointment to a civilian office, I am sure this gesture by President Rodrigo Duterte also sits well for many Filipinos.

While dela Rosa maybe good in his job, it takes the caliber of Año to effectively purge the scalawags from the police organization that has been giving it its bad reputation.

Thanks to Duterte’s war on drugs, it became apparent and glaring that, indeed, many policemen could not be trusted to protect the people as they themselves were involved in drugs, one way or another.

The Año-dela Rosa tandem is what I call a partnership of brains and brawn that should be effective in not only identifying the rouge policemen, but most importantly in making them reliable and trustworthy in the eyes of the Filipino people, in particular, and the visitors to the country, in general.

Duterte saw the potential of Año in reforming the massive police organization, in the same manner that he was able to whip up the morale of the soldiers of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), and with the able assistance/collaboration of dela Rosa, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will soon find its luster again not only because it has gotten rid of the scalawags, but it is now more determined in helping government make the country a safer place for everybody.

In support of Sara’s ‘Tapang at Malasakit’ movement

 

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio

I am talking of course of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, the feisty daughter of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who will head the launching of a nationwide movement called “Tapang at Malasakit Alliance for the Philippines” at the Marquis Events Place in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017.

Before going further it is only relevant that we interpret in English what the words “tapang’ and ‘malasakit’ means so it will be understood clearly by those reading this piece.

While we may easily find a direct translation of the word ‘tapang’, which means toughness/ courage, there is, however, no exact translation of the word ‘malasakit’. The closest that I could think of is concern or compassion.

Accordingly, the alliance would be the “umbrella organization of all groups who supported Duterte when he ran for President in May 2016, and that joining the group would serve as a pledge for a better Philippines and a commitment to be good citizens.”

I am not a member of any group, but since I voted for Duterte and continue to have faith in his leadership, I am supporting this movement being spearheaded by Duterte’s own daughter who knows better than anybody else about her father and the reason why her father took the risk of running for the presidency in 2016 without money and political machinery except to reassure the people that what he had beside his sincerity and honesty was his ‘tapang at malasakit’.

‘Tapang at malasakit’ are characteristics that are making a big difference now in where we are heading as a country both here in the region and in the international community. Things are changing and moving fast and while on one hand we have issues about the country’s war on drugs and EJKs, on the other hand the country is getting to be recognized and respected and it is developing faster than ever because of Duterte.

It is in this light that I am supporting this movement as I am also in conformity with the fears that Sara has about people wanting to derail her father’s reforms and programs in government for their own personal and political interests.

This is now a choice between trusting one who has shown selflessness and competence as a leader or letting those who had had a chance in governing in the past but miserably failing to be at the helm again?  We need the latter like we need badly a hole in our heads!

Let us all get behind Sara’s movement for this is the vehicle that will surely take us to stability, peace and prosperity.

 

Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda and trust rating

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

Every time a Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia survey on the satisfaction and trust ratings of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte comes out people always wonder why the president has been able to maintain a high mark of approval despite the brouhaha raised by some group of people and organizations, both local and international, about his controversial war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, etc.

It must be confusing and frustrating to Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk in the senate and in our society, in general, why even as they hurl a fuselage of personal accusations against the president and his family, still it does not make a remarkable dent on his popularity and approval ratings.

But for the people who were inspired by Duterte’s candidacy and continue to support his presidency there has been a noticeable change in the kind of leadership the country needed which could have never happened had the Roxases, the Binays and the Poes won.

Duterte’s war on drugs, criminality and corruption are in itself big changes toward better future for country and people which can only be fought and sustained by somebody with political will to carry it out.

Events have shown that Duterte is no rubber stamp or a stooge of anybody, either here or abroad, and to the consternation of many that wants to meddle in his governance.

Duterte’s declaration of independent foreign policy had silently earned the ire of some friendly nations at first but is being accepted now as he saw the realities of the times where China has become the major regional power in Asia and the importance of improving relations with non-traditional including Russia, Japan and India.

This is a paradigm shift in our geopolitical relations that perhaps only Duterte could have thought of and it is earning him the respect of the whole world.

Duterte should be credited for where we are now as a nation, especially in having discovered earlier, rather than later, that narco-politics have engulf the country already. He is doing everything possible that this country will not go to the dogs.

What should make everybody hopeful, however, is that Duterte, while relentless in his war against drugs, corruption and criminality, is also making sure that his 10-point socioeconomic agenda listed below will continue to be followed through. This program in his presidency being implemented now is what is helping Duterte also earn his high satisfaction and trust ratings.

  1. Continuing and maintaining current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
  2. Instituting progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection while indexing taxes to inflation;
  3. Increasing competitiveness and the ease of doing business, drawing upon successful models used to attract business to local cities such as Davao, as well as pursuing the relaxation of the Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, except with regards to land ownership, in order to attract foreign direct investments;
  4. Accelerating annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of the gross domestic product, with public-private partnerships playing a key role;
  5. Promoting rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism;
  6. Ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies;
  7. Investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, as well as matching skills and training to meet the demands of businesses and the private sector;
  8. Promoting science, technology and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creative capacity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development;
  9. Improving social protection programs, including the government’s conditional cash transfer program, in order to protect the poor against instability and economic shocks; and
  10. Strengthening the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices on financial and family planning.

 

Duterte wants feisty daughter Sara to succeed him

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte

We have not even reach half way yet in President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential term of office and he is already suggesting his feisty daughter Sara to succeed him.

Is this being rational that this early Duterte is trying to show dynastic tendency in perpetuating themselves in power?

Whether this pronouncement by Duterte sits well on the Filipino people or not, it is vintage Duterte who is always steps ahead in political thoughts and ideas as to what is good for the country and its citizens.

I had been always against political dynasties (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/elitist-political-families/) especially those identified already as traditional politicians (trapo).

But one cannot say this of President Duterte who definitely is not a ‘trapo’, but an out-of-the-box politician and it is for this reason that he was elected overwhelmingly as president because the people wanted change in the leadership from one who works in government mostly for their own vested interests to one who cares to serve the people and who has the political will to wage war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality.

If this early Duterte is seen and perceived to be conditioning the minds of the Filipino people that he wants her daughter Sara to succeed him, it is for no other reason than to make all and sundry feel and understand that the enormity of the problems tearing apart the social fabric of this country is so overwhelming that one term of the presidency could not just wrap it up and declare the problems solved.

What this simply means is that Duterte has come to realize that whatever inroads he has done against his war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality and whatever successes he has attained in making reforms in government, he did not want these gains compromised, but rather he wants them sustained.

By being compromised I surmise to say that Duterte did not want somebody who might be a ‘trapo’ to succeed him and who might only have to promote his or her own selfish agenda. This will only get us back to the hell-hole we came from.

In the same manner that by being sustained, Duterte can be assured that the only way his mission and vision for the country and its people can continue, the way he is charting its course now, is to have somebody who has the same mentality or mindset in running a government, be it local or national, and the same selfless attitude as him, and to his mind there could not be any other person he could trust and have full confidence but her own daughter, Sara, a well-liked and  respected politician herself.

“I couldn’t find any other better candidate than Sara to become the next president,” Duterte reportedly said, and added further that his daughter is a strong woman, who is also a lawyer and knows the law very well.

Talking about silver lining at the horizon for the country.