ARE YOU FOR “FEDERAL’ TYPE OF GOVERNMENT?

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ARE YOU FOR “FEDERAL’ TYPE OF GOVERNMENT?

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bingoby Bingo Dejaresco III

“Here in Davao, you cannot come out (of jail) alive. You can go out- but inside a coffin.Is that what you call extrajudicial killing? Then, I will just bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there, that will no longer be extra judicial killing”.
These are harsh,terse words of Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte when he heard the story about the arrest and release of a drug lord in Manila.
The slow and corrupt justice system and the intervention of the powerful in governance prompted ,at one time, the 30-year political king of Davao, to think about running for president in 2016 “in order to save the republic.”
But the huge financial war chest needed, his age (almost 70 years old) and the compromises inherent in politics-lately- apparently changed Duterte’s fertile mind to contemplate instead to become Vice President (if invited) and perhaps a senator (more doable). ( “I also do not have a First Lady”-says Duterte as he has been estranged twice from his two legal wives).
But the real “gut” issue that fueled the gutsy mayor’s nationwide tour is to push for “Federalism” type of government, much like that of the USA. Federalism aims to cut the country into 8 independent (states or regional centers ,starting with the Bangsamoro) that will give the people financial autonomy from Imperial Manila while maintaining a common police and military security.
Under the current presidential system-Mindanao has always been under-represented; no president ever hailed from Mindanao; today it only has two senators (TG Guingona and Koko Pimentel) – or only 10% coming from the second largest island (Mindanao), next to Luzon. In the Malampaya oil project, Palawan the host province, has not been able to collect from the national government to the tune of P 73-Billion collectibles as the host’s share till today.
That would never have happened in a federal state of government.
Federalism has been strongly advocated by some politicians like former president Fidel V Ramos, academicians, local executives and prelates.
The Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL), as being framed, is not just hurtling over troubled waters today due to the recent Mamasapano Incident but also because scholars, including the fiery senator Miriam Santiago, think it is unconstitutional.
It seems the BBL is forced into becoming law -to accommodate macro- economic and geo-political interests- a quasi federal doll clothed in presidential dress. As it were, forcing a banana tree to grow coconuts.
If the BBl fails or is severely diluted after Mamasapano, the MILF will go to war. If it is approved- what about Nur Misuari and the MNLF, the outspoken mayor (since 1988) argues. Thus “Federalism” will be the answer, he rationalizes.
The PDP Laban, widely influenced by the pro-Federalism political family of the Pimentels, is inviting Duterte into the party- to champion “Federalism”. The older Pimentel- Nene- former senator, authored the LGU bill -giving more autonomy to local governments; that much the nation owes him.
One Voice picBecause of his brashness against the legal process, few people know- or accept- or both- that Mayor Duterte (who is also a former congressman) is a lawyer-a distinguished alumnus of Lyceum and San Beda colleges in Manila. He has also been warned by the CHR (Commission of Human Rights) for his overt endorsement of vigilantism (putting criminals 6 feet under ground outside the due legal process).
One time, as Davao mayor,he put the entire PSG (Presidential Security Guard) into a state of extreme alarm, when he spirited away then president Gloria Arroyo aboard his private motorcycle for her to see an improved Davao City. Indeed from a “killing fields” in the 70’s, Davao is now considered the “fourth safest city in the world”. Can we argue success?
Yes, the moralists say- the ends do not justify the means.
His Duterte clan is accused of being a political dynasty -and it started with his father Vicente Duterte who served as governor of then one Davao province from 1959-1965. His daughter also served as mayor when Rodrigo ended his three mayoralty terms. Aside from English and a bit oif Tagalog, the volatile tempered mayor speaks thorough Bisaya, some Ilonggo and a sprinkling of Waray dialects as he was born in Maasin, Leyte in 1945 as the war ended.
“Dirty Harry” or “Not So Dirty” Rodrigo Duterte , in his retiring years, probably saw the infirmities of the presidential system that is so centralized -with most development deals hatched in imperial Manila. He is for “Federalism” -but he will soon choose where he will fight his battle.
Maybe the senate could be a fine place for battle- as there are equally a large number of Filipinos who are wary- bludgeoned by the nightmares of Martial Law- are scared about how a a nation led by a too-powerful a president with strong arm tactics can subjugate that nation into a country of slaves and pushed into penury it does not deserve. They fear -like the “Apocalypse”-, therefore, a Duterte presidency.
After the 2016 presidential polls, Congress should seriously review the BBL (if passed into law) or diluted into something else -and see the beauty and strength of independent governance where the country is divided into more manageable, independent units (state, sub-stage, regional autonomous centers).
Maybe this (federalism) could partly answer what even the the USAID has noticed as a prevalent state of inequality of development here- not only between social classes ( rich and the poor) but also among the Philippine regions as well.
Will a colorful subject like “Federalism” stand on its own without an equally colorful personality like Mayor Rodrigo Duterte championing it?
Whatever Congress does with “Federalism” in the future- it will still have to undergo a nationwide plebescite for ratification -in order to make it legally binding.
Has “Federalism’s” time arrived?
For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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