The Federalist appeal

Did you know that May is Anti-Graft and Corruption Awareness Month? Information is a good tool for ferreting out graft and corruption, and a Freedom of Information Act will be a step in the right direction. As Uniffors puts it, with the proposed bill being sponsored on the floor of the House, Cockroaches placed on notice.

food.jpg

My Arab News column for the week’s Cooperation in the Wake of Rice Panic. (and recently, it was Canada’s turn: Food-buying panic hits Canadian stores). The column refers to the chart above, distributed in a recent newsletter of Nouriel Roubini. As it is, Rice prices may fall by 50% by yearend–economists. But for now, it’s belt-tightening all around, as The Unlawyer, who is visiting Singapore, noticed.

My entry yesterday focused on the effect on prices of the government’s rice purchases; today’s news has OPEC-style rice cartel up. Interesting information also in Why rice prices surging to record highs. (export curbs; building up national rice stocks; falling world inventories; speculation; changes in land use; and growing population being the main causes).

Incidentally, three articles by Cielito Habito I haven’t linked to, yet: Is there a rice shortage? and (Mis)targeting the poor and Food, fuel and finance . The middle column is particularly relevant because of the question of mapping the poor:

During the Ramos administration, targeting was done by focusing government assistance on the 20 poorest provinces, defined as the provinces with the highest percentage incidences of poverty. It was soon realized, however, that only 11 percent of all poor Filipinos were in those provinces, many of which were smaller ones. Thus, even if all the poor in those provinces were lifted out of poverty, it would make a small dent on national poverty levels. The targeting scheme was thus refined to focus on the 5th and 6th class municipalities, on the premise that the poor can be found in the poor municipalities. We know, of course, that not all people in such municipalities are poor, and even 1st class municipalities have many poor dwellers.

The Estrada administration took a different approach: government sought to focus assistance to the 100 poorest families in each province and city, with the local governments tasked to identify them. With little data on which to base the selection, it took two years for the LGUs to finally come up with their lists; by then, a new administration had taken over.

The Arroyo administration took yet another approach to targeting, as exemplified in its Food-for-School and Tindahan Natin Programs (FSP and TNP respectively). Government has devised a Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System (FIVIMS) that identifies very, very vulnerable (VVV), very vulnerable (VV) and vulnerable (V) LGUs. All 17 towns and cities in Metro Manila are included as target areas regardless of vulnerability level, for clearly political reasons. For FSP, all VVV municipalities are also automatically included, along with the poorest municipalities in VV and V provinces. For TNP, locations of stores were based on a rapid poverty mapping done by DSWD, focused on prevalence of malnutrition and lack of rice supply.

Unfortunately, our track record at targeting the poor has been downright dismal. Studies by Dr. Rosario Manasan and by Dr. Celia Reyes of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) have measured leakage rates (percentage of non-poor beneficiaries) and undercoverage rates (percentage of the poor who do not benefit) of the above targeting mechanisms. Results show that more than half of the recipients of the targeted assistance are actually non-poor, with leakage rates of 62 percent for FSP and 66 percent for TNP. Undercoverage of FSP was estimated at 80 percent, i.e. only one-fifth of total target beneficiaries are assisted by the program.

Interestingly, Metro Manila accounts for the bulk (71 percent) of the leakages in FSP. Similarly, the leakage rate for TNP declines from 66 to 59 percent if Metro Manila stores are not counted. Substantial leakages in targeted assistance is the price government has been paying for buying political support from the more visible and more vocal constituencies in Metro Manila through their indiscriminate inclusion in targeted assistance programs.

Vulnerability, incidentally, seemed a very good criteria, it’s a concept that’s been adopted by the International Red Cross, for example: Red Cross efforts are supposed to focus on vulnerable populations and individuals, not just in times of disaster, but in general.

The failure of the various government programs to target the poor, however, boggles the mind, in that it shows how trying to take a scientific approach can easily be subverted by human behavior -or “gaming the system” as it’s been called.

The Mount Balutacan Monitor points to a report that the provincial government in Misamis Oriental is in shock because a massive shipyard project has croaked.

My column for today is Senate swindled?

The thing is, I’ve only encountered the Pimentel resolution in bits and pieces online. It’s not on the Senate site. It’s not in the news sites. So a thorough review of what the bill contains is impossible.

For background see Federalism gets majority backing in Senate and 16 senators now back Pimentel’s shift to federalism. Background in Newsbreak’s In a surprise move, senators give qualified yes to charter debate. which also gives a digest of the Senate’s proposed changes to the Constitution:

The resolution will require the revision of 14 of the existing 18 Articles of the Constitution and the addition of two new articles. It seeks to adopt a federal presidential bicameral form of government.

Specifically, it calls for the creation of 11 federal states out of the existing political subdivisions of the country and one federal administration region.

It seeks the transfer of the legislative department to the proposed Federal State of Central Visayas, the judicial department to the Federal State of Northern Luzon while maintaining the executive department in the proposed Federal Administrative Region of Metro Manila…

…Other major proposals: the election of senators based on states; the election of senators representing overseas voters; the election of the president and the vice-president as a team; the abolition of the Judicial and Bar Council which screens nominees to the judiciary etc.

Blog @ AWBHoldings.com asks who is afraid of Federalism, and engages in counting potential votes (and potential opportunities for double-crosses in the voting), and he points to the whole subject of constitutional amendments being viewed as a Trojan horse.

Who else is critical of Federalism? Senator Arroyo is against it, and his argument is one shared by quite a few people, too: Federalism to create ’11 little fiefdoms, 11 little kings’.

For the thinking behind Pimentel’s proposal, blogger reytrillana reproduces a recent speech in which Pimentel explains why he supports Federalism. Blogger A Simple Life supports a serious examination of Federalism but thinks the current proposal provides for too many states:

One thing of concern though, is that 11 states plus one administrative region I think, is just a bit too many. Seven (7) states and an administrative region would be better, i.e., feasible and sustainable:

1. Northern Luzon (Ilocos, CAR, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon)

2. Southern Luzon (CALABARZON, Mindoro, Marinduque, Bicol)

3. Western Visayas (Western Visayas, Romblon, Palawan)

4. Eastern Visayas (Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas)

5. Northern Mindanao (Western Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, CARAGA)

6. Southern Mindanao (Davao Region, SOCCSKSARGEN)

7. Bangsamoro (ARMM)

8. Federal Administrative Region (NCR)

One stumbling block is the rhetorical attraction (rhetorical, because not precisely factual, as Torn and Frayed has argued; one thing a Federal system does not abolish is a national capital; and one thing Federalism does not remove, is the need for, or authority, of a national government) of being freed of “Imperial Manila” while getting the nagging feeling, on the other hand, that this might be a license not for regional growth, but regional chaos.

That Federalism will only balkanize the country is is indeed a cause for worry; see Francis Fukuyama (China’s powerful weakness: Beijing’s reach isn’t big enough to stop local governments from abusing the rights of ordinary citizens) writing in the Los Angeles Times, on how even strong, unitary states are concerned over the periphery ending up lawless regions.

On a related note, Ian Baruma, in The Last of the Tibetans, takes a look at Tibet and wonders if the Tibetans aren’t going to end up like the American Indians:

The Chinese have much to answer for, but the fate of Tibet is not just a matter of semi-colonial oppression. It is often forgotten that many Tibetans, especially educated people in the larger towns, were so keen to modernize their society in the mid-twentieth century that they saw the Chinese Communists as allies against rule by holy monks and serf-owning landlords. In the early 1950’s, the young Dalai Lama himself was impressed by Chinese reforms and wrote poems praising Chairman Mao.

Alas, instead of reforming Tibetan society and culture, the Chinese Communists ended up wrecking it. Religion was crushed in the name of official Marxist atheism. Monasteries and temples were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (often with the help of Tibetan Red Guards). Nomads were forced to live in ugly concrete settlements. Tibetan arts were frozen into folkloric emblems of an officially promoted “minority culture.” And the Dalai Lama and his entourage were forced to flee to India.

None of this was peculiar to Tibet. The wrecking of tradition and forced cultural regimentation took place everywhere in China. In some respects, the Tibetans were treated less ruthlessly than the majority of Chinese. Nor was the challenge to Tibetan uniqueness typical of the Communists. General Chiang Kai-shek declared in 1946 that the Tibetans were Chinese, and he certainly would not have granted them independence if his Nationalists had won the civil war.

If Tibetan Buddhism was severely damaged, Chinese Communism has barely survived the ravages of the twentieth century, either. But capitalist development has been even more devastating to Tibetan tradition. Like many modern imperialist powers, China claims legitimacy for its policies by pointing to their material benefits. After decades of destruction and neglect, Tibet has benefited from enormous amounts of Chinese money and energy to modernize the country. The Tibetans cannot complain that they have been left behind in China’s transformation from a Third World wreck to a marvel of supercharged urban development.

But the price in Tibet has been higher than elsewhere. Regional identity, cultural diversity, and traditional arts and customs have been buried under concrete, steel, and glass all over China. And all Chinese are gasping in the same polluted air. But at least the Han Chinese can feel pride in the revival of their national fortunes. They can bask in the resurgence of Chinese power and material wealth. The Tibetans, by contrast, can share this feeling only to the extent that they become fully Chinese. If not, they can only lament the loss of their own identity.

The Chinese have exported their version of modern development to Tibet not only in terms of architecture and infrastructure, but also people — wave after wave of them: businessmen from Sichuan, prostitutes from Hunan, technocrats from Beijing, party officials from Shanghai, and shopkeepers from Yunnan. The majority of Lhasa’s population today is no longer Tibetan. Most people in rural areas are Tibetan, but their way of life is not likely to survive Chinese modernization any more than the Apaches’ way of life survived in the United States.

Since Chinese is the language of instruction at Tibetan schools and universities, anyone who wishes to be more than a poor peasant, beggar, or seller of trinkets must conform to Chinese norms, that is, become Chinese. Even Tibetan intellectuals who want to study their own classical literature must do so in Chinese translation. Meanwhile, Chinese and other foreign tourists dress up in traditional Tibetan dress to have their souvenir pictures taken in front of the Dalai Lama’s old palace.

Baruma’s article, while focusing on Tibet, basically lists the grievances and concerns that have convinced some people to advocate Federalism.

In Federalism Today, which dates back to 2002, Ronald Watts tackled the question: why the Federal appeal?

To what can this increased interest in federalism be attributed? One major factor has been the recognition that an increasingly global economy has unleashed centrifugal economic political forces weakening the traditional nation-state and strengthening both international and local pressures. As a result national governments are faced increasingly with the desires of their populaces to be both global consumers and local self-governing citizens at the same time. Thus, the nation state is at the same time proving both too small and too large to serve the desires of its citizens.

These developments have contributed to the current interest in federalism, not as an ideology, but in terms of practical questions about how to organize the sharing and distribution of political powers in a way that will enable the common needs of people to be achieved while accommodating the diversity of their circumstances and preferences.

The lessons proposed are interesting, too:

Experience since 1945 has taught us three major lessons. First, federal political systems do provide a practical way of combining, through representative institutions, the benefits of unity and diversity, but they are no panacea for all of humanity’s political ills. Second, the degree to which a federal political system can be effective will depend upon the extent to which there is acceptance of the need to respect constitutional norms and structures and upon an emphasis on the spirit of tolerance and compromise. Third, effectiveness also depends upon whether the particular form or variant of federal system that is adopted or evolved gives adequate expression to the demands and requirements of the particular society in question.

It seems to me many interested in Federalism like it because Federalism is a Solution to Resolve Ethnic Conflict, as Ellis Katz suggests. On the other hand, there’s Federalism as a means to more equitably distribute national resources. See the abstract of Fiscal Federalism and National Unity.

In particular, Spain seems to be a model for approaching Federalism from the point of view of finance, see Fiscal federalism and regional integration: lessons from Spain and the more complex Public Spending and Fiscal Federalism in Spain. Period 1984-1998. Spanish concerns over Federalism are reported by Giles Tremlett in a 2005 article. Spain is an interesting example because of the difficulties the Spaniards faced after the demise of Generalissimo Franco: how do you turn a feudal society into a functioning, modern democracy? See Federalism and the State of the Autonomies in Spain:

After 39 years of dictatorship (1936-1975), the death of General Franco offered Spain an immense opportunity to rebuild its institutions and create a system of government where the diversity of cultures was not an impediment to the reintroduction of democracy. It is with the Constitution of 1978 that this country ended the ancient discussion about the form of State that would better ensure governance and opened the path to the creation of the State of the Autonomies.

Incidentally, if anyone can help me get a copy of Democracy and Federalism in Spain (see this abstract, too). as well as Mexican Federalism Revisited, and Federalism and Caudillismo in the Mexican Revolution: The Genesis of the Oaxaca Sovereignty Movement (1915-20), I’d highly appreciate it.

Mon Casiple simply thinks the Senate proposal is a gambit to derail a Palace initiative -and that the gambit’s worked.

Meanwhile, my column also looks at the President’s plans to overhaul her cabinet; RG Cruz says the President’s become rather flirtatious about the whole thing. Mad Miriam weighs in, too: New Cabinet to be 2010 admin senatorial slate–Sen Santiago. The scuttlebutt for some time now has focused those waiting in the wings for appointments – includingRalph Recto, Tessie Aquino-Oreta (said to have already completed her Department of Education lineup of appointments) and Vicente Sotto III.

In the blogosphere, on an overseas political note, BuzzMachine looks at Democrats engaged in a schism in a top American political blog. In Malaysia, as you know Jeff Ooi is the first Malaysian blogger (Screenshots) to become an MP. He takes a frustrated -but highly humorous- look at parliamentary procedure in Speaker (Sabah): ‘No supplementary questions during Q&A today’.

And on a cultural note, see Why I Gave Up Blogs To Read More Books by Coconut Headsets.

And listmania! An ongoing list-making process has missingpoints weighs in with his votes for The Top 100 Public Intellectuals , but has a bone to pick with whoever put Al Gore on the list:

Meanwhile, Al Gore needs to be off the list. He is a politician and a popularizer of a cause but it isn’t his ideas being discussed. Being a public intellectual means having thoughts that are original enough to influence lesser people’s thoughts. If agreeing with experts and promoting their ideas is public intellectualism, half the people with blogs can qualify.

Indeed, there is The dilemma of defining a Public Intellectual as blogger gov4sale dissects the question,

The best example comes from Alan Lightman in his article “The role of public intellectuals”

Lightman bring the example of Ralph Waldo Emerson and his essay “The American Scholar” in this essay Emerson describes the meaning and the function of the intellectual.

In this essay Emerson describes the intellectual as “preserves great idea of the past communicates them and creates new ideas. The intellectual does all of these things not out of obligation to his society, but out of obligation to himself.”

The idea of the intellectual that is described by Emerson feels more of a noble idea, but a very true one, what Emerson describe as an intellectual is by far the most tangible idea ever.

To add to the above notion but with a more political character Edward Said describes “the intellectual’s mission in life is to advance human freedom and knowledge, this often means standing outside of society and its institutions and actively disturbing the status quo.”

With these two ideas combine together we draw a very distinct picture of what a public intellectual is, although some may disagree with this idea.

Lightman also bring a hierarchy of levels of public intellectuals

-level one: speaking and writing for the public exclusively about his/her discipline, example Brian Green’s book The Elegant Universe.

-level two: speaking and writing about his/her discipline and how it relates to the social, cultural, and political world around it, example James Watson’s the Double Helix.

-Level three: by invitation only. The intellectual has become elevated to a symbol, a person that stands for something far larger than the discipline from which he or she originated. According to Lightman these intellectuals is asked to write and speak about a large range of public issues. Example Einstein was asked to give public addresses on religion, education, ethics and world politics.

The Daily Telegraph unveils The 50 most influential US political pundits. The Debatable Land starts a survey on American Presidents: who are the most over-rated and the most under-rated? (On a personal note, can anyone help me turn this, into something more like this, without breaking the bank?)

We like lists because we instinctively want to classify everything see how Time Magazine did so in this year’s The World’s Most Influential People. But after that, we want to rank things. With regards to the Time 100, Joel Stein threw caution to the winds to try to cobble together a formula: then someone said he should refine it, which he did.

For The Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs in 2008, a thorough effort to define criteria’s been undertaken by Can Talk Tech but what is a solid criteria for him may differ from the way other people approach the same task.

Let me weigh in with my list. Let me begin with a caveat: there are quite a few blogs I’ve added to my reading list over the past year, but they’re not new enough (cut-off is a blog birthday after July 1, 2007) to qualify for the list. These blogs are in no particular order. They represent my biases as to what I consider significant and these choices aren’t necessarily endorsements of these blogs, their advocacies, etc. Though for many of these blogs, I do heartily sympathize with them, which is why I follow them -but not all.

Update, July 30, 2010. I have changed some of my nominations, my final list is as follows:

1. Writer’s Block which is a fine example of intellectual efforts by a writer online.

2. The Mount Balatucan Monitor one of the regional blogs that makes inter-regional cross-pollination possible.

3.Since scaRRed_cat seems no longer updated, and though a good example of a veteran journalist trying to adapt to sharing articles online, I’ve decided to nominate fritzified.com instead. A wholesome combination of lifestyle, food, gadgetry, even fashion, but written from an intelligent point of view and not just flashy superficiality.

4. Mon Casiple’s Weblog on Philippine Politics. The finest example of an old school pundit settling in on the interweb.

5. I’d previously nominated Brian Gorrell’s The Not So Talented Mr. Montano? If Malou Fernandez was the Affair of the Diamond Necklace (complete with a mystery: she flew coach), then the birth of this blog was the Bastille moment of the Philippine blogosphere. His recent decision to start outing people, though, is reprehensible. His other motives and postings can be debated but his outing people, well, I don’t know. For that reason, I nominate At Midfield, instead. Ging Gagelonia is a journalist who broke new ground through his reportage and commentary in the blogosphere on the Sulpicio lines sinking.

6. New Philippine Revolution, an intriguing blog and one that I think has a covert following among the politically-inclined. Also, an example of how anonymous blogging can be effective.

7. Vera Files. Had a discussion on Twitter if this counts as a blog or not, but Juned Sonido opined it does. If so, it marks the emergence of what could comprise the Big Three in independent journalism online.

8. Ateneans ACT, which became a forum for advocacy and debate among the alumni of one school, and which served as a model for advocacy and inter-generational debate, lost its steam. While this site marks the evolution and, to my mind, coming of age of the political advocacy blog, I have decided to nominate stuart-santiago instead. Seems to me male bloggers still dominate and hers is a voice of rationality and questioning that bears following.

9. Team RP, particularly because it’s on Multiply and there seems to be a lingering bias of sorts I can’t quite pin down, but it seems to be there, against Multiply/Friendster etc. blogs. This blog is significant because it’s wedded to an advocacy site, and it’s an advocacy led by, and targeted at, the youth, which conventional wisdom tagged as apathetic -but who proved the pundits wrong after NBN-ZTE broke. The kids were just waiting for an issue that really engrossed them.

10. I’m not sure if FilipinoVoices.com counts, because it’s composed of veteran bloggers and commenters, but, well, it’s new and is making ripples, if not waves.

You may be interested to read the choices of Filipinayzd, atheista (campaigning, actually, for Visit Sagada), Viloria.net, SELaplana, My First One Million Pesos, and Mapiles.com, Tingog.com and Shari.

Elsewhere in blogolandia, The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile takes a look at the hostility and patronizing attitude he believes afflicts many journalists; a relevant reading’s John Nery’s Barbarians at the gates? And see The Race: Newspapers have a bright future as print-digital hybrids after all - but they’d better hurry, in the Columbia Journalism Review (thanks to Hector Bryant Macayle for the link). The Marocharim Experiment has a thought-provoking entry on media-blogger issues.

Hiraya: Endless Journey takes a meta-look at blogging.

Adel Tamano takes up blogging at The Opposite of Apathy.

160 comments

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    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Cielito Habito writes : “Substantial leakages in targeted assistance is the price government has been paying for buying political support from the more visible and more vocal constituencies in Metro Manila through their indiscriminate inclusion in targeted assistance programs.”

    And Malacanang residents will remain inclined to perpetrate the leakages that favor the metro-Manila area because of the Damocles sword — surges against Malacanang gates.

    • Sef on May 1, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I do not subscribe to the idea that government should target the poor. Our politicians have been doing that since long ago yet the poor gets even poorer.

    I suggest everyone stop using the poor (as a dramatic backdraft to some sort of political agenda) and focus on the basic needs of “everybody”. Education, Healthcare and National Security affect everyone. Government is for “everybody” and not just for the poor. Doing so will also benefit the poor.

    • BrianB on May 1, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Federalism

    Idiotic. Manolo, ask a Federalist whether his desire is merely for fiscal independence of the states. He will say no. Besides the economic, moral and cultural reasons should also be considered. Jesus Christ, for the common tao this is the only consideration. Just because the masses can parrot the rationale of their leaders do not mean they truly understand it. Most people will see this as a cultural separation from the influence of Cosmo Manille (to use the favorite term of one columnist named Maurice).

    • BrianB on May 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I’m not using scare tactics here but it is entirely conceivable that homosexuality will be “banned” (unofficially, of course, and I bet the phrasing would be different) in some “states.” Bahala kayo dyan.

    • BrianB on May 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    “On a personal note, can anyone help me turn this, into something more like this, without breaking the bank?)”

    Very sophisticated site. It will cost you. esthetically, I do not recommend the change. However, I recommend this:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/index

    • mlq3 on May 1, 2008 at 2:10 pm
      Author

    sef, it’s actually getting worse. in the past the approach was work relief. but more and more, it’s dole-outs.
    i agree that a focus on jobs for those who want them, even if it’s a government relief job as a stopgap measure, is better than simply putting people on the dole.

    • mlq3 on May 1, 2008 at 2:13 pm
      Author

    brian, as i said, there’s no consensus on the subject. and after being discussed, there’s no guarantee it will receive public acceptance. there’s no demand for it at the present time except for a few who find it theoretically attractive.

    • hvrds on May 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Break up the country into three or four separate countries. Each with its own authority to impose its own currency. Four separate monetary authorities also.

    Something akin to the Eurozone before they started to integrate their economy. Also similar to the confederation of the thirteen colonies wherein the 13 also had the authority over fiscal and monetary policies. Why is this necessary? The divergence in economic development. Start with the formation of a common domestic market with fiscal policy firmly in the hands of the four separate states.

    The Eurozone under the common currency agreement is under severe strain due to the great North South divide amongst their members.

    It will have to give as the weaker economies of Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece are now struggling with the stronger Euro instead of their ability to devalue their own national currencies for trade advantages.

    “By most yardsticks, Europe’s common currency has been a success, emerging as an alternative to the fading dollar for bond dealers, central bankers, Chinese exporters, even Jay-Z, the American rapper, who put a pop-cultural imprimatur on the currency by flashing a wad of 500-euro notes in a music video.”

    “Yet fissures are forming in the European monetary union that threaten to widen in coming months.”

    “Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain — the sun-drenched fraternity sometimes called Club Med — are struggling with eroding competitiveness, rising prices and bloated debts. Meanwhile, Germany, the sick man of Europe for most of the euro era, is suddenly vigorous again. Economically fit after years of reforms and fortified by brisk global demand for its machinery and other goods, it has fended off China to retain its status as the world’s export champion.”

    “Germany’s northern neighbors are generally doing well, too, which has rekindled talk of a north-south divide: a north that is growing decently but is concerned about inflation, and so prefers higher interest rates and is willing to live with a strong currency; a south that is worried about stagnating, and prefers lower rates and a weaker currency.”

    “When leaders and laggards use the same money but have opposite problems, tensions are bound to surface.”

    “Take Italy, perhaps Europe’s shakiest economy. Facing high labor costs, slumping exports and a gaping public debt, its old remedy for hard times would have been to devalue the lira. Now, chained to the mighty euro, it cannot do that. Instead, it will probably have to endure a recession and rising unemployment, something no politician — but especially not one just elected, like Silvio Berlusconi — wants to face.”

    “Berlusconi has already said he wants the European Central Bank to weigh more than inflation when setting monetary policy. In other words, the bank should lower interest rates, which would probably deflate the euro somewhat and make it easier for Italy to sell its wine and shoes overseas.”

    “Berlusconi has found an ally in Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who has tangled repeatedly with the central bank on the same issue. Sarkozy will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in July, giving him a ready-made platform for his views.” IHT, Mark Landler

    Please note that DA Sec Art Yap would like to get ASEAN to start a startegic rice reserve system wherein countries with perennial shortages can draw from.

    However he forgets that commodites normally use a standard unit of account which is now the dollar. Apart form it being used a medium of exchange.

    The probelm beings with the actual physical logistics of actually creating the reserve which costs and the storage of it which also costs.

    Each Asean country has its own currency and it’s own fiscal and monetary fundamenls that would determine its relationship to an international medium of exchange.

    Does my favorite real estate broker Art Yap want a common market with a common currency established already in Asean to enable us to get access to rice so we don’t have to go through the hard work of producing more of our own.

    Remember this is the genuis real estate broker who wanted to lease Philippine land to the Chinese for them to grow their food.

    If cash (borrrowed) is not the problem why the need for a reserve of actual rice

    • mlq3 on May 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm
      Author

    hvrds, could you expand your critique of yap?

    • RoelM on May 1, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Hi MLQ3,

    As far as the federalism proposal is concerned, it seems to impose a presidential form of gov’t at the state level. If ever we adopt federalism, we should allow the states the freedom to experiment with the form of gov’t. This way we can do trial and error in one particular state and later allow the rest of the country to benefit from the wisdom and experience thereby gained. We should also give the states the freedom to adopt different electoral systems (FPTP, AV, STV, party-list, etc.). Electoral systems need to be looked at too, and I believe reform in this area could help a lot with respect to overall political reform.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    hvrds: You are making too complicated the concept of a “strategic rice reserve system” for ASEAN. The differences in currencies is not an issue — all the countries can “talk” in Euros, Yens, or even the Canadian Dollar. But really — they will want to talk in terms of rice-tonnage. The imagery of digging up a mountain and filling it with rice is also nonsensical. Notice that in today’s rice crisis, there IS rice, except that the rice is poorly-distributed.
    So the “strategic rice reserve system” can be a LEGAL commitment by all the ASEAN nations to allocate an amount (tonnage) per nation to be made available to the ASEAN nation in distress. The formula to determine tonnage-to-contribute should be based on inventory-on-hand. In unlikely event that a rice-crisis happens simultaneously in all the ASEAN nations, the action is “pray-to-the-Gods” plus ask help from US-A, Australia, United Nations or even Cuba. The more likely is a transfer of tonnage from the nations with inventory to the “unlucky bastard” who ran into trouble. With the commitment in place, the logistics of moving the rice should be easy.
    (PS: The ASEAN nations can also contribute a monthly-premium which is then spent for an option to buy a million-tons of Arkansas rice to be delivered 6 months later. The option can be allowed to expire if there is a rice-glut; the options are exercised when there is a rice crisis.)

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    mlq3: Univ-Philippines-Diliman and La Salle/Benilde subscribe to Project MUSE so their librarian may help you get to ‘Federalism and Caudillismo” article.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    hvrds: On the “strategic rice reserve system”… A treaty or some such legal framework provides cover to the individual governments as to why they send rice out during difficult times. This is no different than Fidel Castro explaining to Cubans why there is an American base in Guantanamo — hands are tied by legal contract.
    And the amount moved to a nation in distress can be 2-week supply only versus 100% of the amount needed.
    [I’m beginning to like more and more my “option to buy” approach. The inventory-source becomes USA during difficult times. I will do options-contracts in 100,000-tonnes increments.]

    • leytenian on May 1, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    “One thing of concern though, is that 11 states plus one administrative region I think, is just a bit too many. Seven (7) states and an administrative region would be better, i.e., feasible and sustainable:”

    yes sustainable. 7 states is better.

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Addendum: If there is an ASEAN-region crisis, then the option-to-buy is exercised by ASEAN and the moneys to buy is funded by the ASEAN-treaty nations and directed to the ASEAN-nation(s) in distress.
    If there is no ASEAN-region crisis, the option-to-buy can be allowed to expire worthless, or the options made available to the United Nations World Food Programme, or made available to any ASEAN nation (who wants to exercise the buy out of its own treasury).

    • jakcast on May 1, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Following BrianB’s arguments, why distibute power by territory when most of conflicts are social in nature rather than geographical (except in the southwestern Mindanao region). We don’t see Ilocanos versus Kampapangans verus Tagalogs, but rather poor versus rich, rural farmers versus landed oligarchs, etc. to merit an federal arrngement more justifiable.

    Federalism, while encouraging competition between regions/states, might just re-awaken latent regional animosity, and create a situation where a Philippine citizen is treated differently in different states.

    • vic on May 1, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    We were already warned about the eventual prices hikes of food stuff and to help delay the hikes, it is much better not to go on panic buying as what the Western Canadians of B.C. did. Hoarding will create an artificial shortages and hasten the price hikes.. So far rice has just increased by average of $2 per 10 kgs bags which sells for $12 to $15 before, and has not seen or read of hoarding so far in Greater Toronto.

    But even with our impending food “crisis” the government boosts its aid to global food by $50 millions:

    Richard Brennan
    OTTAWA BUREAU

    OTTAWA–Canada has responded to the worst global food crisis in 45 years with a $50 million increase in this year’s aid funding.

    Under pressure from the United Nations to do more, International Co-operation Minister Beverly Oda announced the increase yesterday, noting it brings Canada’s total food aid to $230 million, up 28 per cent over last year.

    http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/420204

    • BrianB on May 1, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    People here who like Federalism, I suspect, is just bored with the current government. They don’t seem to have an inkling on the nature of their own people. Federalism will foster native regional traits. It will strengthen and crystallize prejudices. The simple reason is that State leaders, who will be more powerful than senators and will no doubt see themselves on equal footing with the president, will pander to the people and directly and indirectly foster their prejudices. Davao’s Duterte is a fine example and so are the Hagedorns of Palawan.

    This is not your little Christian Sunday club where you flatter yourself thinking you are changing individuals and saving souls. Federalism seems to have very little advantages, and most of these advantages are wishful thinking.

    There is no trial and error, especially in a country where truth and facts are covered up or ignored. Trial and error – parang experiment? Pano ka mag-i-experment kung ang results nang experiment kasinungalingan?

    • vic on May 1, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Most if not all Federal Unions started with several totally independent or autonomous colonies, possessions or territories forming a confederation or Union to share a Central Government and common Nationality.

    The Philippines had already achieved a union of different Island groups and tribes and become one Nationals, so why break it up?

    Instead, the National Government as powerful as it is, could have directed its resources and develop each region or province potential resources and capabilities and income from progressive regions could be directed to develop or support the weaker ones to eventually catch up the others .

    These are the duties and responsibilities of the National Government..looking at the Big Picture. Switching the form of Government to Parliamentary maybe a reasonable option, but breaking up an already whole country is a recipe for 10 or more republics in the Philippines Islands..

    • PhilwoSpEditor on May 1, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    @jakcast

    “Federalism, while encouraging competition between regions/states, might just re-awaken latent regional animosity, and create a situation where a Philippine citizen is treated differently in different states.”

    I agree with the fact that it might create and revive regional animosity, but then again, if we focus all the power in ‘Imperialist’ Manila, regions such as Davao or Cebu might not achieve their highest potential given that they have to wait for orders or wait for go-signals in policies that would benefit their people. There is a grey side to that disadvantage of a federalist government.

    Some regions are being pulled down by the proposal to maintain an ineffective centralization of power in the government. That’s why Gloria holds a lot of cards because we have not yet made a proper effort to lessen the power of the President.

    I’m not saying it will absolutely weaken a president’s near omnipotent grasp of the country, but I’m saying that it can and it can be a method used to distribute power, instead of letting it all go to cronies or their own families.

    • jakcast on May 1, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    @ PhilwoSpEditor,

    To its credit, the present administration tried to distribute power in our unitary state from ‘imperial’ Manila. You know that the the following measures have been implemented: decentralization (executed by staff in the field), deconcentration (Malacanang in the south), and devolution (autonomy to lower levels).

    To further calibrate central and local power balance, RP could use what is called dual system (practiced in UK) or fused (used in France).

    In essence, I must agree with Vic that we don’t have to discard our unitary system in order to help the regions.

  1. Brian Gorrell’s The Not So Talented Mr. Montano? If Malou Fernandez was the Affair of the Diamond Necklace (complete with a mystery: she flew coach), then the birth of this blog was the Bastille moment of the Philippine blogosphere.

    I am surprised to find the said blog this among the list and i was more suprised to know that the author of the blog was invited in the recent summit. the summit was organized by people among whom were the same people who warned bloggers not to link the said blog because it is libelous and bloggers may also be subjected to libel.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Federalism is a waste of time for the Philippines. They want to start with 11 states plus 1 administrative (Metro Manila) region. Pretty soon each province will demand to become a separate state. The final total might be 81 states plus 17 administrative regions. Forget it!

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    This federal mania reminded me of the ‘national university’ status of UP to separate it from the other state universities. Sure! Ten years from now every state university is a ‘national university’.

    • supremo on May 1, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    There’s more. It used to be that the Manila International Airport (NAIA) is the only airport in the Philippines with the international word in it. Now every major city in the Philippines with an airport wants to add the word international to the airport’s name. It doesn’t matter if the airport fails to meet international standards. What do you call this obsession with names?

    • UP n student on May 1, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    People wondering why the EXECUTIVE BRANCH has gets away with not disclosing information, this is a cut-and-paste from the sponsorship speech of Rep. Erin Tanada for “Freedom of Information Act”. In short : “there is still no enabling law that provides the mechanics for the compulsory duty of government agencies to disclose information on government transactions”:

    Our present constitution has secured for the Filipino people, in Section 7 of the Bill of Rights, their right to be informed on matters of public concern. It reads:

    “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

    While our Supreme Court has confirmed that this provision is self-executing, it is far from complete. Its effective implementation has for the past two decades suffered from the lack of the necessary substantive and procedural details that only legislature can provide. Specifically:

    One, there is no uniform, simple and speedy procedure for securing access to information. …

    Two, the specification of the coverage of the guarantee, particularly the general rule on what information may be exempted, needs legislation. I note that the constitutional provision states that access to information shall be afforded our citizens subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. Not having done this, we have conceded to the Supreme Court the task of outlining the limitations of the right to information through jurisprudence.

    Three, precisely for the lack of definite procedure as well as the absence of a definite scope, there is at present no effective basis for imposing administrative or penal sanctions for violations of the right.
    ….
    “It is unfortunate, however, that after almost twenty (20) years from birth of the 1987 Constitution, there is still no enabling law that provides the mechanics for the compulsory duty of government agencies to disclose information on government transactions. Hopefully, the desired enabling law will finally see the light of day if and when Congress decides to approve the proposed “Freedom of Access to Information Act.””

    • vic on May 2, 2008 at 12:09 am

    UPn, Here is a very nice links regarding the Access to Information Act. For $5 and a little patience anyone will have the information needed in due time, except of course those that are prescribe by law off limits..
    http://www.infocom.gc.ca/acts/default-e.asp

    • UP n student on May 2, 2008 at 12:45 am

    vic: thanks!

    ——–
    As Rep Tanada had noted, “… there is at present no effective basis for imposing administrative or penal sanctions for violations of the right” to information.

    “Aba, mahiya naman sila!!!” can only go so far, despite the good nature of Filipinos, especially because “… the general rule on what information may be exempted”(or how long which information can be withheld from general view) needs legislation.

  2. mlq3:
    In Malaysia, as you know Jeff Ooi is the first Malaysian blogger (Screenshots) to become an MP.

    Malaysian politics has realized (finally) the importance of the internet in influencing decisions of its people. The opposition used it very effectively in the last elections since their scant resources hardly made their presence felt in the mainstream media during the campaign.

    Well what do you know, the erstwhile internet critic, ex-PM Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, launched his blog and wrote his first post today, May 1.

    Generating 382 reactions, mostly from fans, it is quite interesting to read some criticisms of him, especially on the subject of his first post – Malaysia’s judiciary appointment system. Nearly half of the comments were to welcome him to blogosphere; the other incomprehensible half were written in Bahasa, though.

    Mahathir’s blog is at http://www.chedet.com

  3. Wouldn’t it be interesting to engage Mahathir about his thoughts on the Philippines, and maybe, in relation to the thread’s topic on Federalism?

    • Madonna on May 2, 2008 at 1:33 am

    “People here who like Federalism, I suspect, is just bored with the current government. They don’t seem to have an inkling on the nature of their own people.” — Brian B

    I too share the same suspicion. In addition, federalists it seems to me are preoccupied with “form” — intellectuals engaging in a lot of belly contemplation. Or federalism has a real appeal to certain people — indeed it very, very sexy indeed for local politicos.

    Why does my linguistic region have I have to be lumped in a Federal State together with Mindoro or Marinduque? Absolutely jarring this proposal and whoever proposed is a freaking cultural nitwit. What for? Boggles me this silly exercise when there are a lot of a gazillion issues of national import that we have to attend to.

    Besides, what’s with all these Imperial Manila ek ek? I was born and bred in the province and never sniffed nary a scent of the superiority of Manila folks. It’s a myth. Most Manila folks anyway trace their roots to a particular province or two. Manila is historically a glorious city and should be recognized as such. Although lots of Cebu folks would contest that.

    Administrative wise, we have the local government code to take care of local develpment. It’s the usual problem, politicians and their pork barrel and local authorities who consider their cities and provinces their turf or hacienda. For a country with still a partly feudal social make-up, federalism will just give local pols even greater power to rule with greater impunity.

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Understanding the financial management of this system is very crucial. A policy should be at least what I’m expecting it to be.
    I am for 7 states. In my own understanding and expectation, federal revenue will be coming from individual income tax and corporate income tax all throughout Philippines. It will also make revenue on tariff tax (foreign corporations- FDI’s) and interest rates on borrowing. It also controls interest rates both long term and short term in line with international banking system and the IMF. Policies must be in placed in both fiscal and monetary policies to balance budget and deficits.

    The expenses are labor for our policemen, military, and all government employees including the senator who will run the State. Other expenses include social security benefits and retirement. etc. The administrative oversees the whole country manage by the President. It approves or disapprove budget propose by each state. It will assess the legitimacy of the budget. But has no control.

    The Senate or the State: Each state will derive its revenue from small, medium, and large corporation permit fees, state tax ( if applicable according to its own policy and in accordance with current economic needs of a State),property taxes, sales tax and other fees associated with doing business in a state.

    Expenses are budget for schools, infrastructure, hospitals and any other social needs for the benefit of the people living in that state. If the expenses exceeds revenue in a State, it can request or propose to the federal body (administrative) for financial assistance. Administration may decline or approve on the basis of the appropriateness of the proposal.

    If revenue exceeds expenses, profit will be gained thus will enhance the financial health of each state as well as the lives of the people.

    The advantage of having Federal and States are:

    1. Each State will compete with one another.
    2. Corruption will be minimized because of competition
    3. Direct accountability of funds.
    4. Responsibilities of each State govern by its senator becomes clearer to the people.
    5. It will attract new small business and entrepreneurs. The Senator will think how to grow his State independently.
    6. It will eliminate non performing leaders
    7. Labor costs for the Senate will be decreased because we are only paying 7 instead of 24
    8. The lower house will be eliminated and labor cost will also decrease.

    Disadvantages:
    1. The proposed Cha-cha has no clear policies and procedures as of yet.
    2. Oligarch will oppose it because of threat to their business of which is not really true. ( it will actually provide new opportunity)
    3. Majority has no clear understanding of what the system is all about.

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 8:22 am

    In addition: I am from Leyte. Leyte belongs to Reion VIII I believe. I don’t even know who is the our Senator. You all can ask the elementary and highschool students in my province. I can guarantee you, most of them don’t remember and probably have not seen him in person nor even make a speech in our region.

    I cannot put all the blame to the region VIII senator when Southern Leyte suffered, Guinsaogon landslide. The senator representing this region don’t even have a clue on what’s going on in our region and forest. He can easily say: “I haven’t have any issues of that nature reported to me by the the governor of that province” You see… no one will take responsibility. Now my governor can just easily say: “we don’t have no record of licensed log and timber business registered or allowed to cut trees in our province. We also don’t have no record of payment for “bill of Lading” nor record of shipping companies registered to pay fees in our port.

    You see… I cannot find out who is responsible. There’s no direct accountability.Just like our current system. All fingers are pointed just to Malacanang and yet others are doing the same.

    We need to change our system. We must know who has direct responbility to our people. I am also expecting that the Senator who is responsible for my State must reside in my State.

    • Liam Tinio on May 2, 2008 at 9:56 am

    why federalism?

    FLOW OF MONEY

    Now(Centralized Govt Finance):

    LGU REVENUE – NATL GOVT – LGU – LOCAL PURSUITS

    ALL LGU REVENUE must go first to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT then the government takes its share and gives the LGUs their mandated share to fund LOCAL PURSUITS

    Future(Federalized Financial Setup):

    LGU REVENUE – NATL GOVT SHARE

    the LGUs gets ALL its revenues to fund local pursuits but will give a mandated share for National Governments to function

    financially speaking, the main difference between a centralized and a federalist setup is that now the money must first go to the National Revenue Collector before the LGUs gets its share whereas in a federalist setup the LGUs gets all of its revenue for itself then gives a ‘share’ for the National government.

    the main advantage of this setup is political power brought about by economic power. LGUs do not have to wait or lobby for their funds from the National government before they can fund local projects. in the current system, this has been the biggest asset the Presidency has over local government units. due to its control in finance of national executive departments, the Presidency has a hand in choosing which projects will be prioritized first. even the pork barell, which is supposed to be congressmens’ independent source of funds become politicized primarily because of the money in national executive offices like the DA or DENR.

    with their own funds, they can act independent of the national government, whose role now is to coordinate, encapsulate, and supplement the efforts of local governments, similar to what MMDA is now, but only more powerful. the national government’s primary role now is in the conduct of foreign affairs and in formulating national development goals where LGUs can either be recommended or imposed to follow, depending on the agreed charter.

    the disadvantage in this setup is that poorer, less-competitive, and less-capable cities will have a difficult time in getting funds. the current system allows them to have funds depending on what class of municipality/province they are in where similarly grouped provinces have similar funds. in a federalist setup YOU GET WHAT YOU GENERATE, if you are unproductive, you get less. proponents argue that in cases such as these, it is the national government who will support their budget or bail them out.

    the role of the national government then, is to focus on helping less-productive municipalities/provinces to compete/survive, while taking a hand-off productive states, reducing red-tape and decentralizing control over affairs.

    culturally speaking, each state can claim to be at least a sovereign ethno-geograpgical unit, with the war among ethno-linguistic differences settled. no more “why is Filipino the National Language?” questions or “why barong tagalog is a national costume”. each unit can impose cultural affinities to their hearts content. no more “christmas holidays for muslims” and “ramadan holidays for christians”.

    Davao City and Cebu City as chartered cities, currently enjoy relative independence from Manila. in a federalist setup, each state will enjoy a similar situation more or less.

    • hvrds on May 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Why is Sec. Yap wanting the same multilateral trading system which is handcuffed by the multilateral financial system that is the root of this crisis.

    Let us look at Haiti the worst case that has so far occurred. They are one of the most heavily indebted states in the world. When they went to debt relief, the IMF (Doctor Death)insisted on the traditional neo-liberal conditionalities. Free marekts and free trade. Cancel all subsidies for food productiona and lower tariffs on food.

    Rice production int he U.S. is also subsidized so in come the chepaer rice from the U.S. and they get hooked on it. Now there is a reversal of polarity in the markets for commodities. It becomes a sellers market – more buyers than sellers. Naturally prices shoot up and for a poor country like Haiti you have the equivalent of hyper inflation.

    But who are the winners. The lucky large transnational consolidator corporations who eat up most of the subsidy.

    Now guess which country is a favorite pupil of these masters of death.

    Don’t you worry they said there is enough oversupply in the world markets at cheaper susbsidized prices.

    Where is the Doha round stuck in — agricultural subsidies that are killing poor countries.

    What was Yap thinking when he led the country under the orders of his boss to offer to lease 2M hectares of land to the Chinese.

    Carnadang is making allegations that we gave up control of our territory to China and Veitnam for oil in Spratly’s. China is hungry for access to oil reserves. They are a command economy when it comes to strategic industries. Last year there were problems in the supply of corn and other feedstocks that caused a surge in the price of pork in the PRC. Since 2004 the increase in corn production the U.S. all went to ethanol.

    That kind of switch takes time to lag to other foodstuffs.

    The largest converter of agricultural stocks to feedstocks was the first one to sign up in that real estate deal that the Philippines signed with China. estate deal.

    Read the papers and you will see that the government has already signed contracts with international traders (both private and state owned) for the bulk of our rice imports this year.

    International food traders control the bulk of international trade in grains and not states with the exception of the PRC.

    Most people do not know that the exportation of coconut oil is paid for with long term contracts with international traders who prepay for production just like local traders here where capital markets are still in its embryo stage.

    Corporate Vultures Lurk Behind the World Food Crisis

    By Anuradha Mittal, AlterNet. Posted April 29, 2008.

    “Preaching at the altar of free market to deal with the current crisis requires a degree of official amnesia. It was through the removal of tariff barriers, made possible by the international trade agreements, that allowed rich nations such as the U.S. to dump heavily subsidized farm surplus in developing countries while destroying their agricultural base and undermining local food production. In Cameroon, lowering tariff protection to 25 percent increased poultry imports by about six-fold while import surges wiped out 70 percent of Senegal’s poultry industry. Similarly reduction of rice tariffs from 100 to 20 percent in Ghana as a result of the structural adjustment policies enforced by the World Bank, increased rice imports from 250,000 tons in 1998 to 415,150 tons in 2003. In all, 66 percent of rice producers recorded negative returns leading to loss of employment. Vegetable oil imports in Mozambique shrank domestic production from 21,000 tons in 1981 to 3,500 in 2002, negatively impacting some 108,000 small-holder households growing oilseeds.”

    Developing countries had an overall agricultural trade surplus of almost $7 billion per year in the 1960s. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), gross imports of food by developing countries grew with trade liberalization, turning into a food trade deficit of more than $11 billion by 2001 with a cereal import bill for Low Income Food Deficit Countries reaching over $38 billion in 2007/2008.

    Erosion of the agricultural bases of developing countries has increased hunger among their farmers while destroying their ability to meet their food needs. The 1996 World Food Summit’s commitment to reduce the number of hungry people — 815 million then — by half by 2015 had become a far-fetched idea by its 10th anniversary. U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, reported last June that nearly 854 million people in the world-one in every six human beings-are gravely undernourished.

    So on who’s behalf are the heads of the IFIs promoting the conclusion of the Doha Round and further liberalization of agriculture. While Investors Chronicle in its April 2008 feature story, “Crop Boom Winners” explores how investors can gain exposure to the dramatic turnaround in food and farmland prices, a new report from GRAIN, Making a Killing from the Food Crisis, shows Cargill, the world’s biggest grain trader, achieved an 86 percent increase in profits from commodity trading in the first quarter of 2008; Bunge had a 77 percent increase in profits during the last quarter of 2007; ADM, the second largest grain trader in the world, registered a 67 percent per cent increase in profits in 2007. Behind the chieftains of the capitalist system are powerful transnational corporations, traders, and speculators who trade food worldwide, determine commodity prices, create and then manipulate shortages and surpluses to their advantage, and are the real beneficiaries of international trade agreements.”

    It is the height of naivete unless you are a government like the PRC to call for a Strategic Food Reserve system in the world when the trade for grains are controlled for the most part by large conglomerate trading companies.

    Even here in the Philippines it is the grains traders that control the market. The entire Asean market trading system is controlled by merchant Chinese that form Greater China. It has been that way for generations. Salim, Kuok and others are giants in agriculture trading

    Why would CONAGRA sell its trading unit for $2 billion cash to a hedge fund. It has the wealth of information on grain trading that go back 147 years.

    So Yap would like the World Bank to initiate a food bank so surplus U.S. rice can be used as a buffer in any emergency. Any idiot will tell you that if you want to get competitive rice from the international markets you have to become like the international trading companies that take positions in commodities.

    That means you have a good state procurement system that knows the game. If the NFA being as corrupt as it can be can’t do it will Art Yap inform the Congress the nifty details of the contracts that the Philippines has signed for the bulk of our rice imports? Including the bank transfers and the names of the parties invovled in the deal.

    Read up on Marc Rich the most notorious rouge international trader. His company Glencore took over Pasar. In less than open governments it is guys like this that move markets and not free markets.

    You can’t move a ship load of grain without these guys knowing it. The matter of insurance.

    • mlq3 on May 2, 2008 at 12:23 pm
      Author

    tongue, related to your comment is this article:

    http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2008/04/30/malaysia-and-its-blogolution/

    • hvrds on May 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    While the food deficit producing countries are worried about avoiding malnutrition and hunger for those who can afford it one can play in the great commodity casino though Deutsche Bank.

    CNBC
    Shorting Commodities? Here’s An Easier Way
    Thursday May 1, 1:49 pm ET

    Psst! Wanna short commodities? Deutsche Bank just made it a lot easier to do so, starting today. They are introducing two new Commodity ETNs, the Deutsche Bank Commodity Short ETN (DDP) ETN, and the Double Short (DEE) ETN.

    Both are tied to the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index. The Index tracks the performance of six commodities in the energy, precious metals, industrial metals and grain sectors.

    http://biz.yahoo.com/cnbc/080501/24408552.html?.v=1

    • mlq3 on May 2, 2008 at 1:12 pm
      Author

    leytenian, you already have a congressman for that.

    • justice league on May 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Leytenian,

    Not exactly agreeing with everything else you stated; you implied that the administrative overseer approves or disapproves budget proposed by each state. It will assess the legitimacy of the budget of each state. Yet he has no control. Could you please elaborate on that?

    You indicated that if the expenses exceeds revenue in a State, it can request or propose to the federal body (administrative) for financial assistance. Administration may decline or approve on the basis of the appropriateness of the proposal.

    Yet if the revenue exceeds expenses, profit will be gained thus will enhance the financial health of each state as well as the lives of the people.

    I wonder why you didn’t indicate if such state with profit should in turn extend financial support to the Federal body.

    You stated in the benefits that the labor costs for the Senate will be decreased because we will only be paying 7 instead of 24 and that the lower house will be eliminated and labor cost will also decrease.

    How many nations have such a set-up wherein the federal legislature is composed of such few people?

    Will you be recommending the abolition of the individual provincial legislatures in the individual states effectively terminating provinces as political units?

    Will you be recommending the formation of a State Legislature?

    • justice league on May 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Liam Tinio,

    Article X- Local Government

    Section 5. Each local government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenues and to levy taxes, fees and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy. Such taxes, fees, and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local governments.

    Section 6. Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.

    —-

    The automatic clause in the Constitution has been upheld several times by the SC and as late as 2005 in ACORD vs. Zamora.

    In the Local Governmment Code under SEC. 284-Allotment of Internal Revenue Taxes; the percentage is pegged already at 40% of the national internal revenue taxes. I do not however currently know if that percentage has been altered by law.

    Do you believe that the Legislature can increase that percentage to about 80% or even higher effectively leaving the National Government to make do with what is left (merge departments, relinquish certain functions/responsibilities to be taken up by local government units instead, etc…)? If you believe so; what is stopping Legislature from doing so?

    • jakcast on May 2, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    ‘the percentage is pegged already at 40% of the national internal revenue taxes.’ – justice league

    Many LGUs awash with funds turn to beautification projects. More income-generating projects should be made.

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    mlq3,
    “leytenian, you already have a congressman for that”
    true but congressman and governors are brothers by blood. conflict of interest and political dysnasty cannot be prevented wiht our curent system of ” it’s always been that way”

    thanks manolo.. you are great. more power

    • nash on May 2, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    The first sentence is hilarious!

    We need a month to be aware of graft and corruption.

    The other 11 months, nagbubulag-bulagan lang…

    Incidentally, we should have TOUGHER GUN LAWS and LIMITS ON USING POLICE AND MILITARY AS BODYGUARDS

    Kaya naman maraming takot to report graft and corruption dahil these grafters have guns and goons.

    I will be honest, I don’t think I can tell Chavit Singson personally that he is a an evil corrupt bastard..or is Palparan….or sina Dy of Isabela…. Baka barilin ako. Kaya lang naman matapang mga yan.

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    justice league,

    “The administrative oversees the whole country manage by the President. It approves or disapprove budget propose by each state. It will assess the legitimacy of the budget. But has no control”

    Our current system of ” it’s always been that way” has been practicing the monopolistic type of power. It has no flexibility except micromanaging. Decentralization of power may be necessary to delegate and share the tasks to others.

    “I wonder why you didn’t indicate if such state with profit should in turn extend financial support to the Federal body.”

    It’s Vice Versa. The poorest State will probably initially rely financing needs from Federal (administration).

    “How many nations have such a set-up wherein the federal legislature is composed of such few people”

    Example: Miami makes more money than Philippines and yet it only runs by a mayor. New York City. Hawaii is a State and yet it makes more revenue than the whole Philippines.
    Philippines is as big as Florida and yet it is an independent state not nation run by few people.
    Philippines is not a Nation. It is a only a country. If revenue is considered , it can be compared as a county that belongs to New York City. Our economy is small. It does not need many genius to be figure the numbers out.

    “Will you be recommending the abolition of the individual provincial legislatures in the individual states effectively terminating provinces as political units?

    If expenses exceed revenue, yes. The provinces will remain intact. Instead of being abandoned and ignored, each province will belong to the State.

    Will you be recommending the formation of a State Legislature?”

    It depends on how policies are made. It must be sustainable. Our current economy is so unstable. It;s alays been that way.

    The only constant thing in this world is Change. Changes of our Constitution requires revisiting and it needs a speedy process of implementation. It cannot catch up with Globalization. It is very slow to respond. It waits for things to happen instead of making things to happen.

    I might have to agree with Benigno in this case when h made comments “kawawa nga ang pinoy” and “vacuous minds”.

  4. Example: Miami makes more money than Philippines and yet it only runs by a mayor. New York City. Hawaii is a State and yet it makes more revenue than the whole Philippines.
    Philippines is as big as Florida and yet it is an independent state not nation run by few people.

    Very naive and clueless as to how these states operate.

    Each state receives assistance from the Federal government since the Federal government also collects income taxes from the residents of each state.

    So here honey, we pay the Federal income tax what you call 1040 and you pay the state local income taxes on the same income that you reported.

    Our wages are deducted withholding taxes both for federal and state.

    will the Filipinos agree to pay the same tax liabilities?

    What happens to the poor provinces? Where will they get their revenues.

    • vic on May 2, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Fast facts about how the Federal State raise its revenue. Citizens or residents in each province or state pays two set of taxes for the same reported income, usually at higher rate for Federal Income Tax (ours is 15% for Federal and 6.05 for Ontario Tax on Taxable income. Sales tax are also collected by both governments and the Federal Government does the Collection for all Provinces and Territories, except for the Province of Quebec which collect the taxes on its own.

    Natural Resources wealth, such as oil and other minerals products are also shared by both the province and the Federal Government.

    The Governments for both have the same Cabinets counterparts and the Provincial Budget is matched by the Federal Government for services under the Provincial jurisdictions according to the agreed Formula by the Federal and all Provinces and territories.

    Federal Jurisdiction such as Pensions, Unemployment Insurance, Old Age Security Pension are the sole responsibilities of the Federal and the Provincial Government can only supplement.

    Now the Hard Part, the Equalization Payments. The “Haves” and “Haves Not” States or Provinces. Since the Idea of Federalism is to Provide services and protection to all of the Citizens at Relatively the same cost in Taxes, and Citizens don’t have to massively migrate from one State to another, this is where the so-called Equalization Payments become the most important tool of keeping the Union intact. It is the Process where the Federal Government will take resources from John and give them to Paul. Some states whose revenues can not meet the level of services of other states receive these payments from the Federal coffers on top of all others Budgeted by the Federal Government. It simply means that say the residents of the Province of Alberta paying much more in Federal Taxes than they get in Return from the Federal Government, so the Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Poorer East Coast Provinces will have the same benefits and services as the People of Alberta.

    • supremo on May 2, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Georgia’s revenue sources

    http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1353

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    the cat.

    i understand. i was referring to non performing leaders. We don’t have enough revenue to pay them salaries. It’s unsustainable. We kept on borrowing. It’s like charging everything on our credit cards and yet income will only grow 5% or less a year and credit card companies charging 8% to 24%. One day, it’s a personal credit crunch. Just like our economy. So who is responsible? If we have to compare our economy to our own individual situation, do you think we will use more of our credit card limit and be burried in debts? The chance of borrowing more is tiny if we over spend and extends our credit unless you will agree to pay 24% of interest rates. This is what happens with our government system.
    It doesn’t have the financial leverage to sustain because of non transparency of financial data (corruption). Too many non performing leaders to pay plus Debts are so high, accumulated from the past and current situation.

    Sounds like you are very smart, making your own money. I know for sure, you are managing it wisely. That’s why I am expecting our leaders to perform their jobs, manage our people’s and implement a sound policy.

    “What happens to the poor provinces? Where will they get their revenues”

    policymakers must focus on employment. Our taxes are paying them revenue to perform. they are responsible.Are they? Revenue from government should not rely on borrowing, overseas remittances and Aids from other countries. It needs to generate income by employing its people.

    • leytenian on May 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    The cat:,
    “Very naive and clueless as to how these states operate.”
    you are wrong… it was an example. don’t take everything literally.

    relax and understand my point:

    we are paying too much excess labor to our political leaders.It is a waste of money.

    let me ask this questions? what policies should our government must have in order for our economy to grow. Think of financial transactions. Cash flow ,i mean.
    Please do not ask the same question back tome.I wanna hear your own experience and share it here instead of picking tidbits of information and answering it using your emotions. research and see what you think of federalism. point out the advantages and disadvantages and why. good day.

    • MrG on May 2, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Even before news on the Senate proposal for Federalism, a motely group has been meeting in Cebu City in order to form the Cebu Federal, Inc. and campaign for such a shift in the form of government. Our Primer may be viewed at http://cefedi.rpweb.ph/primer.htm and your comments are most welcome. Just proceed to the “CEFEDI room” shown in our home page.

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