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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing for federalism in the Philippines.

PHOTO BY PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS


Federalism, to be or not to be?

 

THE eggheads, politicians, lawyers, business and those from varied ideological prisms have been locked in a seemingly endless clash over the draft Federal constitution. This is a healthy exercise except that there are quarters from each of these sector who would rather keep the status quo for reasons that it will impact on their respective agenda.

Not a few politicians from both in the Senate and House of Representatives, who benefited from the present electoral process, have collectively declared that Federalism is dead. This is quiet understandable given the fact that majority of the incumbent senators will never win in a regional election. It is for them a matter of survival, so forget the sound bytes.

Following some vital fiscal issues raised by the financial and economic cluster, the draft charter will go through scrutiny and I think the present Congress is the proper venue provided the members will forget their personal agenda.

A constitutional assembly can only be credible in a joint session. Constitutional Convention (Concom) is ideal but at this time when we need every centavo for our infrastructure development, the way to go is declare a revolutionary government, reconvene the Concom and revisit the economic and financial issues then proceed with the ratification. But this partakes of an extreme process. Ah, what scatter brain have I become.

ConAss is the most expeditious and inexpensive. Despite the fact that we have a sprinkling of buffoons in Congress, there is no question that we too have brilliant lawmakers who can put the missing parts in the draft that would address the inadequacies that the economic cluster in the cabinet had raised. The change in the House leadership came in the crucial time when Congress needs someone who understands the complexities of finance and economy. But for how long?

The problem here is that we all agree to put up all the necessary matrix of infrastructures to address the complex problems that range from transport (air, land and sea) to dispersal of industries and end the evil of centrist government through a Federal form of government. Alas, we need trillions of pesos to achieve these. And we need to borrow money for taxes alone will not suffice.

Already we whine about the prices of rice and fuel and blame the tax reform law for the uptick in inflation unmindful of the fact that oil production in Iran and Venezuela had virtually ceased. Of course rice supply problem is another story. Some bastards in charge rice distribution blame the weather for not being able to unload rice imports. Add to this are rice traders who buy from NFA rice retailers then horde these until consumers are forced to buy at their dictated price. Am curious why nobody is not guillotined for this sabotage.

There ought to be a formula on how the nation’s indebtedness should be addressed. While we say that 75/25 in favor of the region states was fair and just, then maybe there ought to be a rational distribution of indebtedness based on who’s getting the biggest percentage of budgetary allocation for the number and cost of infrastructures the region will be benefitting. Then make it time-bound. The best thing in the world is paid.

That’s what I learned in my travels in the Scandinavian countries. From the use of toilets to Wi-fi. We have to hammer this into the national consciousness.

Time and opportunity are of the essence. In no other time is the Philippines being offered cheap money by China and Japan. All these because of Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte radical changes in foreign policies and alliances that shocked the traditional pro-western diplomats.

And so we end this discourse with the quote: “To be or not to be. That is the question…” JL/PNA

Jun Ledesma is a community journalist from Davao City, Philippines.

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