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Much more than fighting corruption!

Much more than fighting corruption!

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Much more than fighting corruption!

Topic |  
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boholano-thumbThe recent record. “The fight against corruption in the Philippines,” according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 13, 2016: “has led to the conviction for plunder of a former President of the Philippines [Joseph Estrada who was immediately pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo], the resignation of an Ombudsman, the impeachment of a Chief Justice and the incarceration of three senators. But much remains to be done, as shown by the 2014-15 Social Weather Stations survey that found businessmen perceived the government agencies they deal with as corrupt.”

To begin with, how do our 2016 presidential candidates propose to deal with so much corruption, local and national?

  • Rodrigo Duterte. Simple living will be rule for all public servants, starting with the President. 2. Pass Freedom of Information bill (FOI). 3. Amend Bank Secrecy Law to remove protection of public servants under investigation for corruption. 4. Streamline the government by abolishing redundant offices and eliminating conflicting mandates.
  • Mar Roxas. Continue the fight against corruption and move forward to the next level of progress where there is freedom from hunger and fear and Filipinos can dream.
  • Jejomar Binay. As transparency is the greatest deterrent to corruption, work for the approval of the FOI bill.
  • Miriam Defensor Santiago. Enact FOI bill. 2. Certify the anti-premature campaigning, anti-political dynasty and anti- “epal” bills urgent. 3. Right-size the government through a task force that will review all government programs and projects. 5. Support Supreme court decisions on the pork barrel and the Disbursement Acceleration Program. 6. Restore meritocracy in the government through an anti-political recommendation law.
  • Grace Poe. Work for passage of FOI bill, enlist citizenry to become watchdogs of the national treasury. 2. Reduce or automate licensing and application requirements to lessen human intervention. 3. Simplify the tax regime. 4. Punish both the briber and the bribed; enact law punishing bribery in the private sector. 5. Ensure the appointment of justices and regulators is not influenced by politicians and special interest groups.

In the 1990s, President Fidel V. Ramos summed up his administration’s thrusts into five D’s: democratization, devolution, decentralization, deregulation, and sustainable development. And he was fairly successful as President!

In his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer March 1, 2016, Cielito F. Habito suggested seven imperatives for the next president: integrity, inclusion, institutions, investments, infrastructure, international relations, and intergenerational responsibility—not necessarily in order of importance.

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“Integrity underscores the importance of improving on the gains that have been made in strengthening accountability in governance. While most of us have disappointments about the much vaunted daang matuwid (straight path), progress was made in freeing up large amounts of public funds that used to flow into the wrong pockets (although such flows have obviously not stopped). xxx But the next president must make good on what could be this administration’s biggest letdown: its turnaround on the freedom of information law. Transparency is the partner of accountability, and one cannot be totally effective without the other.”

“Inclusion reflects the need to ensure that the country’s development in the economic, social and environmental dimensions uplifts the lives of all Filipinos, and leads to significant reduction of poverty, especially in the countryside. Poverty remains unduly prevalent, and the economy’s gains remain largely reaped by too few.

“Institutions, including those that should be the recourse of the most disadvantaged among us, have been damaged over many years of ill-motivated governance, and need to be repaired and strengthened anew. Government must reverse the widespread perception that justice is for sale, that lawmakers make more money than they do laws, that local governments tend to run at cross purposes with national development goals, and that our public facilities and services are designed to inflict the greatest pain to the Filipino public.

“Investments, whether domestic, foreign, private or public, have surged in the last six years, and yet we could have still done so much better. We particularly need more investments in small enterprises, particularly micro, small and medium scale, if our economy’s growth is to uplift a much broader base of the population. We also need far greater, large-scale investments, especially in agriculture/agribusiness, manufacturing and tourism to create the jobs where our more than 2 million jobless Filipinos can best fit in. And for the sake of greater competition and less-concentrated economic power, we need to open up our long outdated constitutional restrictions on foreign investments in public utilities, mass media, advertising and education.

“Infrastructure as a government priority hardly needs further elaboration, as we all suffer from our massive inadequacies in this on a daily basis, be it in badly congested roads, unreliable and costly electric power, inadequate water and sanitation facilities, or crawling Internet speeds. We need to do a massive catch up in infrastructure if our country is not to fall into being the “sick man of Asia” anew.

“International relations have come to the fore of our national concerns in the face of stronger regional integration, along with escalating threats to our territorial sovereignty. While political diplomacy is vital (especially to address the latter), we need to also highlight the crucial importance of economic diplomacy in a globalized economy where economic interdependencies across borders have become critical to development.

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“Intergenerational responsibility, finally and certainly not least importantly, must be an underlying concern of all our development efforts. Our decisions and activities today must not compromise the welfare of our children and their children and descendants after them. The world community has adopted a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with attendant Sustainable Development Goals as a sequel to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). After missing our own MDGs last year, we had better redouble our efforts to keep in step with our neighbors, and the rest of the global community, in ensuring a better world for all of humanity, now and in the future.

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Our urgent agenda for changing our political system by amending our Constitution. Only Mayor Duterte advocates Charter change by instituting Federalism.

The following are the proposed major reforms requiring urgent changes in the 1987 Constitution by the Centrist Democratic Party: Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya.

  1. Abolish all national elections because these are very expensive, corrupting, and dysfunctional. The national election of our President, Vice-President and 24 senators is very expensive because of the high cost of nationwide campaigning and electoral administration. Extending the terms of local government leaders from three to five years will provide continuity in service and reduce election expenses and the temptation to corruption and abuse of power and authority.
  2. Change our Presidential Government to a Unicameral Parliamentary Government. Our traditional Presidential Government suffers from constant gridlocks, paralyses, and lack of accountability. It is built on the separation of powers and the checks and balances among the President, the Senate and the House of our bicameral Congress, and the Judiciary.

In the proposed unicameral Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs) will be elected in parliamentary districts similar to our congressional districts. The Parliament elects the tested leader of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister: the Head of Government. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers and the bureaucracy are responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honesty or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is accountable to the people for its governance through the Parliament and their respective MPs.

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The Parliament shall elect the chosen leader of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister or Head of Government. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers are directly responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honesty or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is also  accountable to the people for its governance. The opposition parties and the media, civil society, and vigilant citizens will make sure that it is. As long as the Government does not lose a vote of confidence in Parliament, it can lead and govern the country continually, thus making possible continuity in policy and governance.

  1. Create Autonomous Regions and Local Governments in a Federal System. In our Unitary System most governmental powers, authority, and revenues are concentrated in the major institutions and agencies of the National Government that critics call “Imperial Manila.” By devolving political power, authority, and finances to the regional and local governments, we shall be empowering them and our citizens.
  2. Empower our people as sovereign citizens of our Republic. Given our largely self-serving political oligarchy and our dysfunctional political and governmental institutions, our people who are mostly poor and insecure are dependent on their political patrons. They must be empowered through education, employment, social security, and their political participation in electing our MPs and local leaders, and running our autonomous regions and local governments. (By Jose V. Abueva)

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