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Ronald Roy — June 2, 2016

At the height of the pork barrel scandals the other year, former Cong. Willie Buyson Villarama nonchalantly walked the Palace grounds sporting a Huwag Kang Magnakaw inscription on his white T-shirt. To most onlookers, he was a sight to behold, but not so much for the inscription’s allusion to the Seventh Commandment, as for its amusement value. “Imagine”, they said snickering, “this guy walking right into the lions’ den!”

To Willie, however, a well-known activist for good government, it was not at all amusing; little did they know he was denouncing the theft of people’s money as public servants’ most despicable crime. Throughout the years I’ve known this passionate crusader, Willie has stood out in public fora where betrayal of public trust is the topic, where selective justice is being booed down, or where yet another official’s hand has been caught in the cookie jar. May more Willies help incoming President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in weeding corruption out of our lives.

Coalition of Change
The President-to-be has virtually gained control of the lower chamber when 80 members of the Liberal Party and 70 politicos from Mindanao joined the so-called “Coalition of Change” — a twin-event that was not unexpected that will, unfortunately, ensure the harmful concentration of power in the presidency. Pardon me, but this “change” will only perpetuate the existing system that has no effective checks and balances.

The American model of checks and balances makes for a dynamic democracy. At every change of administration, the Republicans and the Democrats generally don’t cross party lines. Theirs is a mature party system hewn out of well-defined advocacies that differentiate the two major parties. The Republicans prefer industrial development as the engine of growth. On the other hand, the Democrats believe that developing the poor sector is essentially primordial.

The nation’s malaise
In our benighted country, most follow the bad tradition of hopping onto the bandwagon of the incoming president, now the titular head of PDP-Laban, because the chief executive’s environment is where political power is, where opportunities for self-aggrandizement are located, and where public service shines only in the orations of lip service. The power to dictate is intoxicatingly enjoyable, since it feeds on the ego while getting things done fast.

However, when uncontrolled power becomes ruinous like a loose cannon ball, everybody suffers. Countless of our public servants have become public masters, and that’s because greed has taken the better of them, or their constituents have themselves learned to engage in corrupt practices.

Our citizens have correctly identified stealing (a facet of dishonesty, corruption, or greed) as the pervasive malaise that has festered their ranks.Their very homes, neighborhoods, and the national and local governments have likewise been infected. Liberation is daunting because, as studies show, it will take over a generation to excise this moral cirrhosis. Will our new president be able to liberate us within his six-year term? The answer is discouraging.

The way out
A great majority of the masses are one with Rody in his determination to stop crime, corruption and drugs, to bring food to the tables of the poorest of the poor, to provide them with adequate shelters, medicines and education, and to curtail the causes of their bourgeoning numbers. Rody suggests a shift to federalism as the way out of the chronic socio-eco-political rut. Will it work?

It takes decades of struggle for liberation before some nations can turn federal, e.g. : India and Malaysia from their British colonizers, and America after the civil war between the Union and the Confederates, and in each case it took a painstakingly long transition period before federalism could take root. But the Davao City Mayor is confident federalism is viable here, probably because he has made his city self-reliant. Question: Are the other local government units (LGUs) headed by Rodrigo Dutertes?

Taking the plunge
Federalism embodies the principle that the whole (nation) cannot be strong if its parts (national and local governments, people, etc.) are weak. In our country, power, funds and other tools of development have long been lodged in the central government, thereby being exposed to the rapacity of, e.g., the executive and legislative branches. Remember the pork scandals?

I agree with a reader who believes that there is no reason to expect that the shift of power, capital and other means of development to the LGUs will curb their skullduggery. On the contrary, there is all the reason to foresee an increase of political dynasties, jueteng lords, drug lords, warlords. and “can affords”.

But Rody tells us the federal waters are fine. Well, do we take the plunge and wait a generation? Why not just stay put, dredge and fumigate the current waters?

09186449517 ronald8roy@yahoo.com
musingsbyroy.wordpress.com @ronald8roy

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