Post-Aquino urgent legislation needed

cartoon editorialREGARDLESS OF WHO  the next president of the Philippines , there are urgent measures that needs to be given attention by the next Congress.

There are those with a sense of urgency because of the freshness of recent events that necessitate  their importance.

For instance, the brazen hacking and laundering of US$81-M from a Bangladesh deposit account at the Federal Reserve in the USA and laundered through the Philippines’ remittance and banking systems make a review of the nations” AMLA “(Anti Money Laundering Act) and the lifting of the Bank Secrecy Act of primordial interest.

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The colossal gambling industry and the the booming real estate industry have been exempted by legislators from AMLA scrutiny while the secrecy law has been the refuge of financial scoundrels in hiding illegal and criminally-driven wealth from scrutiny.

Two others touch on Agriculture, the weakest sector in the GDP growth sources. First, there now must be a legislated IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) on how to distribute the benefits of the huge P70-B Coconut Levy Funds which the Supreme Court had decided in favor of the nation’s millions of coconut farmers, 60% of who live below the poverty line.

Second, would be the IRR of the Anti-Dynasty Bill which has been enshrined in the Constitution but whose clarificatory IRR had failed to muster support from a a largely oligarchic and dynastic profile of the legislative bodies.

In the well-read book “Why Nations Fail” co-authored by James Robinson, dynastic rule in any nation has been an “extractive rather than inclusive” phenomenon that diverts wealth ,power and opportunities to  only among the few. To the detriment of the public at large.

Our own personal conviction leads us to believe that agriculture must really be given the attention that it deserves. One  such legislative act would be to compel banks and other lending institutions”to accept agricultural land titles as collateral for bank loans”.

Heretofore, banks have refused to give any  loan value to agri land because of some legal gobbledygook between the  DENR and the DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). Both must shed their bureaucratic pride and look at the nation’s welfare especially those in the agri businesses.

Second, all over the world , farmers who use irrigation facilities made by government are given free. The Philippines has been an exception and this has burdened the already impoverished farmers who break their backs and till their own land to feed the nation. Congress should ” make this use of irrigation facilities for free”- a contribution government  should do for food security reasons.

The more encompassing one is a law that should compel government to subsidize the power rates the corporations and people consume here. One of the main reasons we have not attracted Foreign Direct Investments has been our high power cost. All ASEAN governments subsidize their power rates. Note that our average power rate is twice the cost of power in Thailand and 5 times that of Indonesia . How can we compete? Investments create jobs, an anti-dote to lack of “inclusive growth.” “Government must subsidize our power cost.”

The other is”to increase in a massive way the Budget of the Judiciary.”. Heretofore, this third equal part of government (Executive and Legislative are the two others) receive only less than 5% of the trillion budget of the government. Thus , we have lack of courts, lack of judges, underpaid court people and congested jails. This is worrisome since any nation that hopes to undergo reforms must have an effective, strong, graft-free Judiciary -because they are the final arbiters of right and wrong.

Finally, the BUB (Bottoms Up Budgeting” must be institutionalized. Right now only about P20-B of the entire budget adheres strictly to the BUB Process. This institutionalization makes sure that the down to the barangay levels, projects for any area are at least known to the barangay folks and not left to the whims of public officials and their favorite private contractors.

A very final note is the decriminalization of “libel” as espoused by former DOJ secretary Leila de Lima  who is running for senator. RP is one of two nations on earth where libel is considered a criminal rather than just a civil offense. This has been regularly used to stifle media here.

If you feel any of these need priority, don’t be shy- write to your favorite congressman and senator. This is payback time. More than getting cash for electioneering, this is where you should demand a “quid pro quo” for your votes. Not petty cash poll bribery. Shall we?

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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