Saturday, February 28, 2015

Status: Complicated to unpopular

MACTAN, Cebu — With Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte giving his support and endorsement for “Federalism” or a federal system of government in the Philippines, the “movement” has gained a media magnet as their champion and is slowly gaining supporters outside Imperial Metro Manila. He may not realize it but if Federalism actually takes off with his support under the next presidency or administration, Duterte would be doing us a lot more good than actually becoming the President of the Philippines.
In his book “Talent Is Not Enough” author John Maxwell stated that 1 is an insignificant number. In terms of the presidency many #1s thought they could change the Philippines but ended up being miserably changed by the experience often for the worse. If Duterte wants to be “generational” in terms of action and legacy, the promotion and realization of federalism in the Philippines will be a true legacy that will bring greater good for the greater number more than becoming #1.
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The Philippines is now closer to the reality of Federalism in principle or in fact. We already have the Cordillera Autonomous Region or CAR. While they make no noise or declaration, Ilocandia particularly Northern Ilocos has concentrated on a development program “with or without” assistance from the national government. The province of Cebu has proudly and historically disdained Imperial Metro Manila and could very well go on being “An Island in the Pacific” as they promoted Cebu in the ’80s. Not many people realize it but the province of Davao could qualify as the birthplace of federalism as a real political movement and not just as a suggestion. Even ten years ago political leaders in Davao have pushed for Federalism to be free of too much politics and mismanagement by Imperial Manila.
After their experience with the absence or lack of support from the national government during Typhoon Yolanda, Tacloban City and many parts of Eastern Samar can be easily convinced to support and become a federal state and determine their own destiny. There is also the group from the province of Pampanga pushing for the decongestion of Metro Manila by shifting the national economic network and dependency on Imperial Metro Manila.
If and when the Bangsamoro Basic Law leads to the creation of the Bangsamoro government, it is unlikely that Imperial Metro Manila will be able to stop the Federalist movement. Perhaps the “federalists” should spend more time looking for champions, educating people and last but not the least helping provinces and regions to organize themselves into “proposed federal states” in fact or in principle. Instead of waiting for the BBL to happen or blocking the BBL, we should all consider “Federalism” as an alternative. The regions, provinces and ethnic communities still have a right to manage their affairs with greater independence and can still exercise a form of self-determination without radical or separatists threats or fears.
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The current status of President Noynoy Aquino has gone from “complicated” to “unpopular.” His status also rekindles the issue of how long is long enough for a presidency. Before the Cory Constitution was written in stone Philippine Presidents had a term limit of 4 years and if he did well and if he behaved, he could run for re-election for another four years. Unfortunately Ferdinand Marcos Sr. liked being president so much that he decided to become president for life.
In reaction to this extended stay, the Cory crew thought that the best solution would be to limit the presidency to 6 years with no re-election. We are now realizing or discovering that this decision was not as brilliant as first thought of. Both the Arroyo and Aquino presidency have taught us that 6 years is too long under a bad or incompetent presidency. Re-election for another four years would certainly be a bum deal under a bad President but he or she would not easily be re-elected unless he or she had at least given a good first run in their first term or cheated like hell, which is what happens under dictatorships or absolute corruption or because we really pissed off GOD!
The current six-year term seriously needs to be rewritten because six years with no option to terminate, revoke or invalidate except via revolt or takeover, does more damage than good, is susceptible to destabilization and discontent and is simply too long. It almost feels as if you’re finishing a jail term for a crime you did not commit and the only consolation is that you are in “jail” with 100 million other Filipinos.
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In modern Philippine history, yesterday’s “Hero Presidents” are today’s villains. The outcome is generally determined by failed expectations or contracts entered into by those administrations that have ultimately come back to bite the citizenry or left them having to foot the bill. We conveniently forget the situations back then especially the public discontent and outcry over lack of electricity, horrible traffic jams and threats of drought and water rationing.
We have short memories and even lower levels of gratitude concerning the political decisions made by yesterday’s heroes. Back then we wanted electricity at all costs so a president took our sentiments literally and said let there be light at whatever cost. The riding public wanted faster mobility and no traffic jams that trapped us for 10 to 12 hours on the NLEX and in Metro Manila streets one Friday evening. So a president said let the good times roll along with good deals, and we all said it was good. Twenty plus years and three presidents later we are kicking and screaming about the deals conveniently forgetting we were all part of why those bum deals were entered into. The irony being in normal times anything abnormal becomes illegal or corrupt and yesterday’s hero today’s villain.

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