Ambassador Goldberg explains

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

It is good that US Ambassador Philip Goldberg has come out to criticize presidential candidate Grace Poe for her manner of handling the SAF probe. The story went that Poe was the candidate the US favored because like Aquino she was a push-over and would be easy to manipulate in supporting their agenda especially with regard to the China-US conflict in the South China Sea.

Goldberg’s criticism of Poe’s account of Mamasapano changed all that. I believe ambassadors should clarify issues important to their relations with the host country. The Goldberg criticism was published in a local newspaper. (I  must congratulate my STAR colleague Wilson Flores who is doing very well in making his Kamuning Bakery a media forum.) I would have gone myself but I had a previous engagement.

The US ambassador chose the forum to show how his government would handle sensitive information. Former SAF chief  Getulio Napeñas and top Armed Forces of the Philippines generals made public sensitive information on military operations during the Senate probe. Sensitive information should be discussed in closed session.

 “We have a process of doing that in the US,” Goldberg said in the forum. “We discuss these in secure areas of the US,” he added.

* * *

BayanKo has been asked by the Friends of Rody Duterte to speak in assemblies on federalism. Didi Domingo, one of Duterte’s leaders, has asked BayanKo’s adviser Jose Alejandrino to explain the issue.

Alejandrino who is from Pampanga will speak in a big assembly on Friday in ?San Fernando.

Here are some excerpts from the speech.

“My name is Jose Alejandrino y Baluyut. Only few in my family went into politics but we produced three governors: my granduncles Gen. Jose Alejandrino y Magdangal and Sotelo Baluyut, both governors of Pampanga, and Pio Valenzuela y Alejandrino, governor of Bulacan. Today, as far as I know, the only one in politics is Arayat Mayor Emmanuel Bon Alejandrino who is the nephew of the Huk leader Casto Alejandrino, my uncle. Bon was in the underground movement for many years. He is a mayor cut from the same cloth as Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao. The last time I saw him he was putting on his bulletproof vest and carrying an M16 to go after the illegal loggers of Mt. Arayat.

I was told the kapampangans have a tradition of voting for the candidate who wins the presidency. Whom Pampanga chooses, the saying goes, the rest of the nation follows. Well, the good news is Pampanga will go for Rodrigo Duterte. So we now know who our next president is.

A businessman asked me, “How can you have a president who is not presidential? He is coarse, he cusses, he uses foul language.” I then asked him, “Do you know Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II?” He answered, “No.” I said to him, “That’s a real shame because he loves to use foul language when he is angry. Philip likes to say, ‘You bloody bastard!’ Do you know what the equivalent in Pilipino is? It is ‘p_ _ta_ _-_n_-mo.’ Do you know what is the difference between Rodrigo Duterte and Prince Philip? Again, he answered, “No.” I said, “The difference is this: Rodrigo will tell you, ‘Go to hell.’ Philip will tell you, ‘Will you please go to hell.’

I asked myself what makes Rodrigo Duterte appeal to the masses. They all gave the same answer. Duterte represents change. That change is a shift to a parliamentary-federal system.

Allow me to enumerate some of the major advantages of a federal system.

Firstly, when power is shared with federal states, it ensures that power is not centralized in a single person, as we now have with a president who wields vast powers, or groups of people, as we now have with oligarchs and family dynasties, since excessive power has a tendency to corrupt.

Secondly, by not centralizing all power into the hands of a national government but sharing it with federal state governments that are closer to the level of the ordinary citizen, you increase that citizen’s ability to have a larger say in the affairs of government. And the closer a government entity is to its citizens, the more that government entity is likely to respond to the needs of its citizens. This is the main argument for smaller political units than a big centralized unit.

Thirdly, when the power of the government is dispersed among the federal states, giving states the right to solve some of their own problems, you allow for more efficiency within the system. When you strive for a national solution to all problems, you merely end up with solutions that are more effective in some states and less effective in others, whereas when you allow federal states to find solutions to their own problems, government tends to become more efficient.

Fourthly, a federal system will allow states to have a bigger and more consistent share of tax revenues. Under the current Local Government Code, the aggregate IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units is set at 40 percent of actual internal revenue collections of the central government three years prior to the current year. The IRA is divided as follows: 23 percent to cities and provinces, 34 percent to municipalities, and 20 percent to barangays. Then there are the categorical grants to local government units from lump sum allocations under the General Appropriations Act, allocations made by central government agencies from their own budgets, and lump sum or line item appropriations from the pork barrel funds of legislators.

In actual practice, local government units are unable to plan realistically their activities because the yearly allocations from the central government’s general appropriations tend to fluctuate from one year to another.

Under a federal system, states will enjoy greater fiscal autonomy. They will have the right to create tax revenues to offset shortfalls in revenue allocations from the central government in order not to curtail their planned activities.

Fifthly, with the devolution of power to federal states, the central government will have no need for a large bureaucracy. It is a large bureaucracy that fosters corruption.

Lastly, a federal system will encourage competition between federal states. The people of a state will judge the performance of their state officials by comparing the socio-economic development of their state with neighboring federal states.

A final word of caution. The revision of the Constitution proposing a parliamentary-federal system must be undertaken by an independent panel of jurists and constitutional experts with public hearings, as the Spaniards have done in drawing up a new Constitution.

The 1898 Philippine Revolution was betrayed by the landed class. The 1986 Edsa Revolution was hijacked by vested interests. “

Let us not let it happen again.


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