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Sep 28th
Home Sections Politics Retrofitting the Philippine National Government (Part I)
Retrofitting the Philippine National Government (Part I) PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Politics
Tuesday, 04 September 2007 02:49

In seismically-active areas, a lot of old structures does not meet the new provisions of the Structural Code and one of its primary objectives of protecting the safety and welfare of the public is to insure that public structures will not collapse during an Intensity-8 earthquake.

(Editor's Note: Starting with this presentation by Mr. Duenas, this online publication begins a series of articles about the Federal-Republic system of government that Philippine Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., and others have proposed. Mr. Duenas is an architect by profession.)

The Philippine-government structure needs the same retrofit. We need to analyze its structural framework to withstand the challenges of the future and insure that our people are adequately protected and will benefit from its sound frame.

The problem of Baranggays and Local-government Units (LGU) -- despite the Autonomy Law -- is that the structure is not complete. For autonomy to work the revenues of the autonomous region should remain with the region and not rely on national pork-barrel allotment. The cash at hand of the autonomous entity is sizable. The allocation of 75% of local revenue becomes a working capital of the autonomy.

Under (the proposed) federal system, the 25% contribution of each autonomous entity becomes a "pool or source of common funds" that can be applied by regional-autonomous units as "federal subsidy" to support regional significant projects.

Regional Projects

Regional significant projects are those commonly shared by several autonomous entities and with a 25% local share, a federal subsidy of 75% is made available. This means that for a regional airport or seaport for tourism where five provinces in Panay will benefit, the accumulated 25% share of each LGU and Baranggays of the (five) provinces will raise 25% of the project cost and the 75% shall be federal share.

The commitment of 25% from each Baranggay and LGUs of the five provinces is a commitment of support for the success of the project. The 75%-investment of federal funds will be the equivalent of a long-term investment similar to an IMF/World Bank Loan. The federal government will generate separate revenues from the project in terms of custom and port fees and the sustaining stream of dollar revenue from tourism and the progress of the region.

A mango-production initiative by three LGUs can readily establish micro-irradiation facilities to insure export potentials and recover the 75% federal investment from the export of mangoes.

A Baranggay Working System

Having a working system within the Baranggays and the LGUs will eventually make the transition into a federated system easier. If we prepare the groundwork in the Baranggays and LGUs early we eventually will get a consensus from them to support the federalization and the Revenue Apportionment necessary for local development.

It is not really a vicious cycle of which should come first, the chicken or the egg since what we need is just a retrofit of the basic structure from a centralized Imperial Manila system to a more-stable structure of a pyramid where the base is wider. What we have now is an inverted pyramid that is teetering on the balance on its tip.

Bringing back our economic viability to the Baranggay level and the LGU will be an experience of true "independence" from the blackmail of the pork barrel and the never-ending election promises of our national politicians.

How can a nationally-elected senator campaign and promise things that do not concern the local people? Who cares about absentee voting when it does not assure that the handicapped and bed-ridden citizen can avail of absentee voting? The Absentee Voting - as per the original intent of the 1987 Constitution - is to insure that a citizen during election time will have the option to cast his/her vote when he/she is physically indisposed to personally cast the ballot. It is not supposed to be designed only for Overseas-Filipino workers (OFW) and immigrants, but our legislators took 14 years to draft a wrong law.

There are so many national laws that do not alleviate the plight of the poor but find the vested-interest groups monopolizing Congress in Manila with money-laundering acts, etc., etc. Why can we not have our own (federal-state) Congress in Mindanao to draft laws relevant to Mindanao only but within the framework of a federal policy? Why do we have a Sangguniang Baranggay (SB - the village legislative council) in the Baranggay when they can not pass laws that will insure the employment of all their local high-school graduates? Or fix their own farm-to-market roads, collect and establish their own sanitary landfill and re-cycling centers?

Retrofitting the Educational System

We do not need a Presidential Project to fix the school facilities used by our own children? The Baranggay PTA can handle such work with local artisans and labor paid by local revenue. (Editor's Note: Mr. Duenas' arguments are very similar to Bobby Reyes' proposal to abolish the Department of Education, Culture and Sports or DECS and replace it with regional and/or provincial school districts, similar to what is being practiced in the United States.)

Why do our schoolteachers in the LGU have to have their salaries approved by the President? Does the community know the teachers of their children and does the DECS have an idea what the needs of the teachers are? The community knows what is good for their children. Let the community revenues take care of its needs and the community will work harder to make sure that the 75% allocation will encourage more local businesses to support local needs.

This is "sense of belonging" where local public-works contractors willingly contribute to local schools and community projects because the revenue of the community reverts back to local businesses.

We have to learn how to trust our own local leaders and communities to take care of their own.

The Federal government shall attend to national issues and global concerns.

(To be continued . . .)

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 September 2007 02:55

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