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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Of Offers and Of Proposals

Mr. Quezon's Inquirer column makes an interesting question: "If you are a genuine believer in federalism or parliamentary system (run by sincere, disciplined parties), has the government offered you prospects for achieving either?" Let us first comment on his other interesting points that he wrote in his column because they are sound and worth reading, listening and understanding before we answer his question.

Mr. Quezon summarizes the political landscape quite clearly. Indeed, he is correct in his assessment that President Macapagal-Arroyo's game plan is to stay as long as possible. Though I suspect one must add that one of her reasons, if not the chief reason is to ensure that whatever post-presidency scenario happens likewise protects her and her family from liabilities incurred during her presidency. It will be an acceptable exit strategy for her. I suspect she does not want to share the fate of her predecessor which is the foremost underlying reason why there have been as Mr. Quezon puts it "“...the more damning issues of her accountability for: the cover-up that's taken place since June of last year, and the accompanying abuse of executive powers and prerogatives."”

We have often assessed here as have so many people in their blogs, in media, in coffeeshops and elsewhere that sadly the opposition has failed. There have been an abundance of issues between June 2005 until today and going into the future that people can rally behind of--- issues of predominant concern that may show us the way out of our present political turmoil which can help people opposed to PGMA actually raise the bar of our politics. PGMA actually is doing our nation some good because of the opportunities being offered to raise the bar of our national expectations.

In his column, Mr. Quezon wrote that one must have either a parliamentary government or a federal system and we can not have both. Perhaps he was simply thinking of the current scheme--- the proposal(s) of those in favor of parliamentary government who are dangling federalism as a way for people to agree with their views because federalism is more damning to the status quo.

In past posts, we lean more towards the federal system because I personally believe that hard work should be rewarded by reaping its rewards and that individual provinces today are succeeding on their own because of that. One need only to look at their balance sheets. We need not go far--- Quezon City (with the biggest war chest), Makati, Pasig, San Juan are prime examples in Metro Manila. Elsewhere, go look at Lipa, San Fernando, Davao, and many other individual places and see the richness our people are building and building efficient vibrant cities and communities. A federal system will push them further to manage resources better, to take their plans to the next level. And what of those regions who are lagging? They are then forced to wake up, elect better people and till their land or remain where they are--- completely free to inspire one's self to be more productive or drown in self pity. This I believe is true emancipation!

On one hand I have personal issues with managing bloat. Organizations should be efficient, effective, proactive, dynamic, optimized--- in other words "mobile"”. And having more than 200 people in a legislature is too huge a system (in my humble opinion) to manage when half or one-fourth of that number can be used to do the job properly. Please tell me that 51 people can't think of legislature that is good for the entire country and that these people will not be efficient in doing their job and that they can not represent more constituents than they are right now? It's like saying the president of Philippines and senators today can't do their job because they have to serve 85+ million people. This way, we can raise their salaries and wages (as well as their staff) and give them all the tools needed to do their job. To me this is the better way to manage limited resources.

In our present setup, we have more than 200 people in Congress which hardly does anything but conduct hearings-in-aid of legislation and yet have those hearings led to better laws or sent people to jail, after the fact? Likewise in our current setup--- the Senate and House will make individual versions, and after passing it on third reading will come together in another meeting to "“merge"” versions before sending it to the president for signing. Also, every city, province, town, have their own legislatures to enact laws that fit their locality. It seems to me it is rather inefficient to have more then 200 people making laws that affect these areas when the local government is doing their job and at a more manageable level.

Am I in favor of a parliamentary system? Not the one the Con-Com is advocating because as much as I believe in efficiency, effective systems--- quality over quantity is important for people to do things right. But that is just a point of view and as arrogant as it may sound, just a personal preference.

Mr. Quezon in his column perfectly summarizes the elements that we need to do to get this country moving again and our leaders and people should take notice: "Three things, I believe, are required of all those who are opposed to the President: an epidemic of sacrifice, in which the hurts of the past are buried together with the ambitions of those opposing her only because they want to replace her; a greater effort to discover the principles (if any) that can serve as a basis for unity instead of reasons for disagreement; and a more consistent, open-minded engagement of the electorate outside Metro Manila."

Certainly, the only way to move forward is to forgive, but not to forget the sins of the past that includes the Marcosses, the Estradas, the Arroyos. we must find a formula to settle these issues once and for all and we must build on top of our bitter lessons and start anew. The precursor to a better future is when our leaders lay down their individual ambitions and pave the way for our future as a people and as a nation. It is time to move forward.

Again, I agree with Mr. Quezon: whether it takes a day or a decade, the Arroyo presidency must one day come to an end, and what will replace it? If you are a genuine believer in federalism or parliamentary system (run by sincere, disciplined parties), has the government offered you prospects for achieving either? The more important question is not when Mrs. Arroyo's government and what it represents a way of doing things, comes to an end but what happens after it. It is time for change. We must start thinking of what must come after it and what comes after it must bring unity to this country, must settle once and for all divisive issues of the past and get our people to build on it. And that future must include the building of truly disciplined parties with clear, distinctive visions for and understanding of the future and not driven by the personalities of the day and must be inclusive of everyone.

With that in mind, the best basis for unity I can think of is to agree to reshape our society--- which means breaking away from the past but we must never forget its its lessons. For that reason we must build a new charter but this charter, as I have mentioned in previous posts must only have our collective vision, our aspirations and our dreams and must be very vague on details such as national policy and economic provisions. I strongly believe such an important timeless document has no business in dictating to future generations what to do, but instead must serve as guide. Such a charter must be brief. It must be an easy read that could be understood by the common folk and taught in grade school. It must be a framework. It must retain the legacy of the 1987 Constitution's Bill of Rights but it must add to that. Our people must be equally responsible for our Nation as much as, if not greater than the rights we have, that we too are responsible for our nation's future by continuously striving, by struggling to be better than who we are individually. It must allow our diversity to be our strength. A new charter is the best manifesto of unity and a solid foundation to build on for the future.

Let us go back to Mr. Quezon's question: If you are a genuine believer in federalism or parliamentary system (run by sincere, disciplined parties), has the government offered you prospects for achieving either? Federalism. Parliamentary. Systems--- at the end of the day, they're tools for achieving a goal. Perhaps the better question is: has anyone offered the prospects for achieving a better future?