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Dec 09

The right fight at the wrong time?

Of the accounts and commentaries on the Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight, I enjoyed those of The Warrior Lawyer -first on the boxing of the thing (see the links in The Age of Brillig, too), then the economics of the sport and the match- and the broadside against the actual broadcasting of the match, by Bong Austero, the most. Former Socialist rebel and priest Edicio de la Torre (hat-tip, GlobalVoices) ties in the match with the death of a young actor that marred what was otherwise a morning of national rejoicing (see also A Filipina Mom Blogger).

No one has pointed out what a remarkable image, and what a remarkable campaign, this was:

Snapshot 2008-12-07 13-55-12

Here in one image, all the the things that people think matters to people (including themselves):

1. Faith and Hope

2. Perseverance of the Underdog

3. The will to win of the Champion

4. Community & Solidarity

5. Material Success & its Manifestations

The website featuring this image, takes it even further. People were given the option of adding their personal “prayers, wishes or dedications” for Pacquiao. In one fell swoop, popular instincts were marshaled and put on display:

1. The Community Spirit

2. Patriotic Feeling (versus Nationalist Chauvinism)

3. Racial Vindication

4. Individual Empowerment

5. Religion’s Role in Everyday Life

In contrast to all the positive things above, take a look at this remarkable video:

All the negatives, in contrast, are on display:

1. Class Resentment

2. Mistrust of Officialdom and the Institutions they Dominate

3. The Language and thus, Educational Divide

4. Citizens’ Feelings of Powerlessness

5. The Absence of a Genuine and Legitimate Rule of Law

Both campaigns, mind you, are highly effective, and are brilliant messaging efforts. But to my mind, the power of the first -based on aspirations– trumps the power of the second, based on reality on the ground.

A proposed solution will always be stronger than a non-solution; by this I mean that a proposal for change will have greater drawing power than a stubborn insistence on the status quo.

Since 2005, let’s not forget that the House of Representatives has had a working draft of the Constitution, as it wants to see that Constitution after amendments are accomplished:

Matrix House Proposed Charter Amendments

Nothing suggests that these fundamental objectives have changed. Much has been made of the absence of any concrete document detailing the changes, particularly to the economic provisions of the Charter, but I think that there’s no reason for such a document to be released to the public, because the proposed changes have been clear to those interested in them, from among the ruling coalition, for some time.

As for public opinion concerning these proposals, take a look at this presentation, containing information on public opinion used during the 2005-2006 Anti-Cha-Cha campaign (at the beginning of the campaign, it seemed 44% of the public favored Charter Change, with only 40% opposed; but as Serge Osmeña, a firm believer in the use of survey information for strategizing campaigns pointed out, if you took a close look at the supposed 44% for Charter Change, a significant chunk was for it on the assumption that it would help remove the President; therefore, they were susceptible to being swayed to joining the ranks of the Antis):

SO2.0

If nothing fundamental has changed in terms of the aspirations of the ruling coalition (unicameral parliamentalism), I don’t think anything fundamental has changed in terms of the fundamental political preferences of the public (bicameral presidentialism), either. Economics remains a powerful argument, but that argument is weakened by questions over the political motives of the proponents of Charter Change.

This is where what helps foster Charter Change within the ruling coalition, harms its prospects when it comes to public opinion. It matters to members of the House, that the President’s sons are so conspicuous and that her pet party, Kampi, is taking such an active role; their prominence, however, leads to public mistrust of the proposals and the proponents.

In his blog, Mon Casiple details where the House effort is at and the long ways it has to go:

The GMA forces in the House are crowing about a 183-strong signatory to a House resolution for the convening of a Constituent Assembly. This particular resolution–reportedly being passed around by the Arroyo sons directly–has not even been filed and contained no particular provisions to amend. They are publicly proclaiming that the 196 three-fourths vote required to pass a constitutional amendment in a joint-vote Con-Ass will be theirs.

Of course, the passage of such a resolution is just the first round in a four-round Cha-cha bout.

The second round is the expected Supreme Court battle over the joint-vote Con-Ass. A February 16 retirement by SC justice Adolfo Azcuna is eyed by GMA political strategists as the golden opportunity to appoint a pro-GMA justice in order to firm up the shaky alignment in the current Supreme Court.

The third round is the convening of the joint-vote Constituent Assembly to actually pass the necessary amendment or revision of the 1987 constitution by shifting to a parliamentary system, extending the terms of office of elected officials, or by simply allowing the president to run again for reelection. This is where the 196 captive votes will come in handy, ramming through by brute force such an amendment or revision.

The fourth round is the conduct of the plebiscite on the GMA extension in power, possibly by corroding and influencing the Commission on Elections.

Like the Pacquiao steamroller win over de la Hoya, the GMA strategists imagine doing it over the Cha-cha opposition. The GMA congressmen are raring to do it in the next days to come.

The legal issues that have to be sorted out are explored by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ in The ‘ifs’ in Charter change and Speak tenderly to Jerusalem on Cha-cha (see also former Chief Justice Panganiban’s articles). Essentially, Bernas (rather glumly) admits the Constitution he helped write, has provisions on amendments written in such a manner as to require some sort of resolution by the Supreme Court to sort out it’s meaning (in marked contrast to Dean Jorge Bocobo’s strong belief the Charter is immune to being interpreted in any but a strictly bicameral way).

So what is the opposition to the House proposals up to?

On December 10, the hierarchy and the Catholic Schools will mount a protest at the gates of the House of Representatives, for Land Reform and against Charter Change at the present time. The hierarchy apparently shares the concern that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will not be extended by Congress, as the landlord bloc in the House wants to end Land Reform.

On December 12 there will be an inter-faith rally in Makati City.

Here is a tactical question: both rallies require a turnout at least as large as the February 2007 Makati City rally. If neither rally -or if both rallies- fails to match those numbers, the Palace and the ruling coalition, at present spooked by the possibility of a massive turnout, will get their second wind. The President herself, if you’ve noticed, doesn’t seem to have unleashed a torrent of cash, which means she’s either hard-pressed to scrounge it up, or is holding back. But if the much-feared mobilizing power of the Catholic Church proves a dud, or the public shrugs off Charter Change by avoiding the rallies, then the President may decide to bet and bet big on Charter Change.

In December 2006, the House, lacking the votes to bring the Charter Change case to the brink of a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, blinked and folded in the face of a threatened Church mobilization. But the Church itself, suddenly getting cold feet because it was worried about a People Power situation, and inflexible in its determination to purge the Luneta rally of anything smacking of the “political,” declined to mobilize fully. A lot of finger-pointing and recriminations then took place within the ruling coalition, basically along the lines of “well, what do you know, they weren’t so strong after all”. Although to be sure, this was also meant to enfeeble Jose de Venecia, Jr.

The ruling coalition’s ranks already having been purged of JDV and his ilk, and with many more shepherds to guide the ruling coalition (a more effective Speaker, Nograles, the President’s two sons, and Rep. Villafuerte), with a hard-line cabal in the Cabinet composed of durable political operators, the President might just be inclined to see where this will go. Personally, I think the one to watch here is Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and his empire-building efforts in the power sector. How his efforts prosper will clarify whether an alliance has firmed up with the President, making it more economically rewarding for him to pursue an extension of the current regime rather than embarking -and placing his bets- on influencing the next government.

But even as I point this out, something else is bothering me.

Both protest activities (December 10 and 12) make me think that we really ought to ponder whether camouflaging political action with the cloak of religion is healthy.

A couple of years ago, during a forum held by a foreign chamber of commerce, one Filipino expressed frustration over the timidity of the hierarchy and I responded by saying that perhaps this was a good thing, as reducing the political influence of the Catholic Church was better for the country in the long run. Since then I have become increasingly concerned with preserving the secular nature of our state (see The secular ideal) while ensuring freedom of conscience for practicing Catholics (see Faith and morals).

Making religious observance the central focus of political action dates to martial law, when public gatherings were hampered and regulated by the dictatorship, and when Communists needed to find a way to pursue their United Front tactics while dodging the accusation that they were promoting a Godless ideology. Religious rites helped keep political action focused on peaceful, non-violent resistance and kept the brutality of the martial law regime in check.

But the (unintended) consequence of all this has been to make the Catholic Church and in particular, the hierarchy, political players of consequence to an extent that would have been intolerable to past generations.

On one hand you have the Catholic Church effectively mobilizing to block the Reproductive Health bill, and on the other, mobilizing to keep Land Reform legislation alive. Tolerating the former because of the need for a force capable of mobilizing to promote the latter is a Faustian bargain. It only serves to underline the inherent contradictions in what’s going on, because it introduces the element of sectarian morality into the political sphere. Yet it may be the wrong place for that: after all, what is the political benefit of organizing around the celebration of the Mass, when the President can organize her own Masses, too? What is the use of one bunch of prelates if another will publicly support the administration?

For politicians, partisanship is not only to be expected, but natural; for bishops, the clergy, and their rites, it is, somehow, incongruous. At the very least, marshaling religion for one side only permits marshaling religion for the other; it does not introduce anything new nor does it offer any real opportunity to break the impasse the country’s been in, politically, since 2005. It only fosters the impression both sides are cynically using faith as a camouflage for politics, when the onus should be on those who should be in the dock for using official patronage as a means to court clerical support.

What makes me anxious, though, is that I think the President’s camp, if it decides to continue the brinkmanship Charter Change will entail, has latched on the right ingredients for successfully pursuing a campaign, while the opposition to the President and all her works will find the going tougher this time around.

But then again, there may be a reason why there is the perception that there is a conventional wisdom: and that is, that the gut instincts of those who believe that brinkmanship over the Constitution will truly mark the point of no return and defeat for the administration, are right.

Looking ahead, Congressman Ruffy Biazon thinks amendments are in order, eventually. That is assuming three things. First, that a real consensus concerning the need to amend exists (only within the narrow confines of certain groups does such a consensus exist, methinks). Second, that there are qualified people to ponder on and propose amendments (particularly if convention delegates are chosen by popular election). And third, that the amendments would accomplish some good.

The reactionary in me takes a skeptical attitude and would rather ponder what so many of our elders pointed out, which was, the desirability of restoring the 1935 Constitution, which worked without a hitch so that it took a dictator and a craven court to eliminate it, and which proved so difficult to replace an elected Convention bickered and squabbled its way into co-optation and scandal. As was eloquently pointed by the late Teodoro M. Locsin in Farewell, my lovely! in 1986.

156 comments

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  1. mindanaoan

    justice league, so how do you understand taxj’s “realistic fiscal federalism”?

  2. justice league

    Geo,

    so how do you understand taxj’s “realistic fiscal federalism”?

    Well since there seems to be a dearth on what taxj really meant with regards to what a textbook would define “fiscal federalism” to be, it would have been better if you asked taxj to expound on his idea first before you asked me so we could have found out if he meant something similar or totally different from a textbook definition.

    But that being the case and you are asking me how I understand it, I could present something totally different from what taxj meant and so taxj should not be bound by any mistake I might make.

    I would have to say that “realistic” was only a modifier of “fiscal federalism”.

    You obviously noted “realistic fiscal federalism” in relation to the power of Congress to decide on the allocation of the IRA as based on your post.

    Given that “fiscal federalism” is sometimes used to connote “fiscal decentralization”; I’d say that “fiscal federalism” is basically an issue of deciding on “who gets what, and who pays for it?” (Short version)

    And that would be related to the power of Congress to decide on the allocation of the IRA by its power to amend the Local Government Code.

    (Long version is (i) Who determines
    who gets what revenues? (ii) Who is responsible for what expenditures? (iii)
    How do intergovernmental transfers work? (iv) What degree of freedom do
    subnational governments have with respect to borrowing? and (v) Who determines
    the institutional setting within which the preceding questions are
    answered?)

  3. justice league

    OH BUMMER.

    Wrong address.

    Sorry geo.

    Mindanaoan, that’s supposed to be for you.

  4. taxj

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiscal_federalism

    justice league,

    I’m quite sure I posted a comment ahead of you, but somehow it didn’t get through. Worry not though. Your take is 5/5, as the above link will confirm.

    mindanaoan,

    I would place a rational FF anywhere near the 20/80 sharing of national income dangled about by Senator Nene Pimentel to get the support of local government officials for his federalism folly. Anyway, the general idea is to put wealth in the cities and provinces where the constituency has a better say and sway.

    Don’t you know that when Congress devolve the functions of agriculture, health and social services it conveniently forgot to provide funds therefor. So what happened? Concerned personnel were virtually paralyzed while Jocjoc Bolante and company partied, as in partihan. Do we need a cha-cha to address this issue?

    I do not have the statistics but the Pimentel 20/80 formula could be giving states a share that is much larger than the whole Internal Revenue collections. So? We can aim far beyond a mere increase in IRA without any fear of starving the national agencies whose existence and functions, under a highly decentralized unitary system, should be reduced to the barest essentials.

    Now is the time to change a set-up that allows one man or woman to control our destinies. Now is the time enough for us to stop yearning for an Obama, a Darna or a Lastikman to move our bahay kubo. All our presidential wannabes can lift only a hundred kilos each. Heh, heh. Our bahay kubo definitely weighs more than a ton. So? Let’s put up a structure where more shoulders can carry the load that a few good men can’t, as in bayanihan. Our charter allows us to. Only Congress doesn’t. What to do then?

  5. anthony scalia

    Geo,

    “Someone else has acknowledge that he got hit by your comment.
    That should settle your issue there.”

    our friend must be very humble.

    he refers to himself in the third person

  6. justice league

    Anthony Scalia,

    “Someone else has acknowledge that he got hit by your comment.
    That should settle your issue there.”- justice league

    our friend must be very humble.

    he refers to himself in the third person

    So it wasn’t an acknowledgement on your part that you got hit by Geo’s comment.

    So the burden is now on BOTH of you to prove that I couldn’t figure out what the term “discouraged from work” means!

  7. mindanaoan

    taxj,

    do you mean, the national government still generates the revenues and gives 80% to LGU’s? and the national government will have to operate its machineries with the remaining 20%? that’s your fiscal federalism?

  8. Bert

    “So it should be taken that they want to do it, they can do it, but for some reason; they are just not doing it! ”

    justice,

    They won’t do it now.

    Their intention is to prolong the disease indefinitely.

    So even with the presence of potent medicines already available they’re still wanting to introduce this chacha as a palliative and herbal cure.

    Sheesh!

  9. mindanaoan

    justice league, federalism is about autonomy. what kind of autonomy is this if lgu’s just wait for IRA from the national government?

    taxj’s idea is bunk. i dont think he even tried to figure out how his system works. or even if he tried to punch in the numbers. he just wants to have something to say against federalsim.

  10. justice league

    Mindanaoan ,

    justice league, federalism is about autonomy. what kind of autonomy is this if lgu’s just wait for IRA from the national government?

    taxj’s idea is bunk. i dont think he even tried to figure out how his system works. or even if he tried to punch in the numbers. he just wants to have something to say against federalsim.

    I don’t think taxj or anyone else from this side of the fence is advocating the LGUs to just wait for the IRA from the National Government.

    All this idea of “lgu’s just waiting for IRA from the national government” is just again from you.

    I gave you a lot advice during several of our discussions together.

    One of them was for you to read the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

    Obviously you didn’t follow my advice again.

    Much if not all of your concerns can probably be alleviated by the first few initial sections of the LGC.

    If you can’t understand the first few sections of the LGC, do copy paste what you don’t understand and mostly likely taxj and I will probably help you.

  11. mindanaoan

    justice league, i’m not trying to propose anything here, so please stop saying anything is from me. i was just asking if that was what he meant. and don’t be patronizing that you can explain to me lgu finances. i have developed and maintain software for accounting, budgeting and treasury software for two provinces, a city and more than a dozen municipalities. what do you know that i don’t?

    what i am asking taxj to explain is how his “realistic fiscal federalism” works. aside from saying national agencies should be reduced to barest essentials, and IRA be increased to 80%, there’s nothing much to go in his proposal. he gives us no idea how to run the already meagerly funded national agencies if we reduce maybe 200 billion from their budget.

    the other point is that fiscal federalism implies autonomy, yet he doesn’t explain how internal revenue taxes can be collected by lgu’s without revising the constitution. it’s as if his idea of fiscal autonomy is the national government giving money to lgu’s and never mind if you can’t run a national government with the reduced funds.

    there’s a principle in design that says, “form follows function”. if taxj is convinced decentralization is a good idea, why not adopt a form of government designed with decentralization as the central principle, the federal system?

  12. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    what do you know that i don’t?

    I’d say a working understanding of the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

    what i am asking taxj to explain is how his “realistic fiscal federalism” works.

    Then why are you asking me at your 2:35pm post?

    I will volunteer/intercede on my own volition but if you want taxj to explain then by all means ask him/her.

    the other point is that fiscal federalism implies autonomy, yet he doesn’t explain how internal revenue taxes can be collected by lgu’s without revising the constitution.

    Like I said, read the LGC first.

    I’ll help you right now by saying its at Sec. 3 d )

    I’ll put up a link for some of the early parts of the LGC.

    AGAIN. I suggest you read it and copy paste what you don’t understand.

    //www.comelec.gov.ph/laws/local_govt_code/lgc_b1t1ch1.html

  13. mindanaoan

    justice league, it doesn’t seem you are helpful in clarifying taxj’s idea. maybe we should just let taxj explain.

  14. justice league

    mindanaoan,

    justice league, it doesn’t seem you are helpful in clarifying taxj’s idea. maybe we should just let taxj explain.

    Very well.

    I tried.

    But consider this link as a final gift.

    //www.comelec.gov.ph/laws/local_govt_code/lgc_b2t3ch1.html

  15. taxj

    Mindanaoan:

    The 20/80 sharing formula is not mine. I just mentioned it to underscore the fact that the importance of fiscal federalism is acknowledged by our lawmakers, yet they do not give it. They say they want to, but they don’t.

    http://FeDecentralize.wordpress.com is about federalism, pro and con, by many commenters. It includes point by point rebuttal of the Abueva and Brilliantes treatises. It also has a piece on how federalism could negate our gains at local autonomy. We know of course that there can be local autonomy without federalism.

    Anyway, I think I have said it all in my December 14, 7:08 am comment. Mindanaoan is fully free to refuse to get the message. Or distort it.

  16. mindanaoan

    taxj, i’m with you in the importance of fiscal federalism, but i don’t agree with your assertion that lawmakers want to, but they dont. there’s simply a limit on how much can be given to lgu’s without compromising the operations of the national government. we are constrained by the system.

    i’ve tried to follow your idea, but i cannot seem to find any explanation from you how to fund a unitary government if you give most of the budget to the lgu’s.

    let’s leave other proposals for a while and talk about yours. have you really worked out a system, or is it all just a hazy concept?

  17. justice league

    Taxj,

    I would have handled things differently.

    First, you might try to reiterate that the Local Government Code is a mere law and can be amended by Congress without needing to revise the Charter.

    When you claimed that Congress devolved the functions of agriculture, health and social services but conveniently forgot to provide funds for it; you could have pointed to Section 2 A) wherein local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. Those functions having been devolved; resources should have followed to wherever those functions were devolved to.

    As to your claim of aiming far beyond a mere increase in IRA without any fear of starving the national agencies whose existence and functions, under a highly decentralized unitary system, should be reduced to the barest essentials; you could reiterate Section 2 A) again wherein National agencies can function with less funds since more powers, authority, responsibilities should have been decentralized already to the local government units.

    (Though I probably would not have used the term “barest essentials” myself.)

    Now if you were asked how the National Government will make do with just a 20% take from the Internal Revenue; well you could answer again its because certain powers, authority, responsibilities would have been decentralized to the LGUs and that there are other sources of funds for the Government like Customs, royalties from exploitation of natural resources, etc…

    If you were asked about LGUs just waiting for the IRA, you could point to Sec. 3 d ) wherein “vesting of duty, responsibility, and accountability in local government units shall be accompanied with provision for reasonably adequate resources to discharge their powers and effectively carry out their functions; hence, they shall have the power to create and broaden their own sources of revenue and the right to a just share in national taxes and an equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their respective areas”.

    If you were asked how to run the national agencies even if we have reduced maybe 200 billion from their budget, you could point again to Sec. 2 A as the national agencies will survive without those 200 billion because powers, authority, responsibilities have been decentralized to the LGUs from the National agencies and those LGUs will now need that 200 billion to perform those responsibilities.

    If you were asked to explain how internal revenue taxes can be collected by lgu’s without revising the constitution, you could point out that IRA is determined by the Local Government Code which is in turn just a mere law by Congress and can be amended by them at will without requiring revising the Charter and then point to Sec. 284 which details the allocation/distribution of the IRA.

    If you were asked if you are convinced decentralization is a good idea but why are you not adopting a form of government designed with decentralization as the central principle, the federal system, you could answer you believe decentralization can be achieved without the risk of another bureaucratic layer, risk of balkanization/fragmentation/dissolution, etc….

    And then point out that these are doable with government officials (like lawmakers and even the President) who are actually supportive of decentralization like the officials that we supposedly have now who profess they are for Federalism.

    But we obviously have a different way of doing things and it is obviously not my way that is of interest here.

    Good luck. and cheers.

    Bert,

    Cheers.

  18. taxj

    mindanaoan,

    I really don’t have to work out a system because I’m not presenting anything new. The concept is already spelled out in the local government code. It is just a matter of giving it more substance or practical application. Have you read the code as advised by justice league? Please don’t look at me for answers. It’s there too. And in your heart as well! I’m sure.

    justice,

    I highly appreciate your gesture. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It isn’t my way nor anybody’s that is of interest here though. It’s the country’s welfare.

    I have looked into as many materials on federalism as I can get my hands into. My conclusion? It’s a formula for disaster for our country. It will bring out the exact opposite of its goals. It will hinder economic growth and worsen the Mindanao conflict.

    Fortunately, much wisdom has already been written, yours among them, against this folly. I don’t think I need add anything more. I can only spread the gospel within my personal limitations. Of course! Heh. Heh.

    Invariably, we pin our hopes in our leaders. Invariably too, we soon are obsessed with changing them. Indeed, elections and people power bring hope, but only false ones because, in reality, no leader can ever bring us out of this mess. Nor can a mere change in our character!

    We have to establish the structure that will enable more of our us to carry the load. Unless we do so, we will forever be circling around in a hopeless situation. How do we get out of it? The lgc and people like you have the answers.

    If only Senator Nene Pimentel would care to visit his own handiwork we could solve our rice shortage within a year or two. How? Amend the code so that the billions that are now in the hands of officials like Secretary Yap and Jocjoc Bolante will instead go to the cities and provinces where concerned constituencies like Geo can have some kind of control over them.

    People at the grassroots have to be involved in planning the use of the money intended for their welfare. Jocjoc Bolante didn’t even bother to let them know that such funds were for them, and not for politicians.

    For those who are not in this line of business, fertilizer alone accounts for 10% to 30% increase or decrease in rice production. And, Secretary Yap says that we already produce 90% of our needs. This probably served as a front for Jocjoc Bolante’s misplaced program.

    mlq3,

    Imagine what one simple amendment could do for us!
    I know you that know how important and timely this subject is. I know that you alone can attract LG officials, practitioners and lawmakers. So, please open up a blog on it so we can have some fireworks even after the new year bangs.

  19. justice league

    Taxj,

    What I meant to say when I said that its “not my way” that is of interest here; eventually it was that its “not my answers” that were of interest here.

    Practically everything I provided last night can be found in the Local Government Code.

    I even provided a link for it.

    The other side just wasn’t interested in reading it.

    And it was your answers the other side was interested in.

  20. taxj

    justice league,

    Actually, we have a lot to thank mindanaoan for. How else were we able to expound on the cause without his prodding questions? However shallow though it may seem at times! However, If he doesn’t believe your lucid answers, any further explaination would be useless.

    I don’t know what your take is but to me the luckiest evil is not the main culprit in our nation’s sorry state. Congress and the federalists are more to blame. The worst part of is that while she has a term limit, Congress and the federalists has none.

    Congress did not do its job at not keeping the nation’s coffers away from Presidential abuse. Nor did it make said funds any closer to lgu’s. On the other hand federalists distracted it from doing a simple legislative task by proposing a complicated, expensive and dubious solution. How else was the desperate housewife able to do her thing with such impunity?

  21. mindanaoan

    taxj, i thought you have something new to say about “realistic fiscal federalism”. turns out it’s just hot air.

  22. mindanaoan

    justice league, i’m not interested in the local government code. i was interested in what i thought was a new idea from taxj. but it seems there’s no new idea after all

  23. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    Your term of hot air is more applicable to the supposed support of government officials for decentralization.

    i’m not interested in the local government code.

    That is obvious.

    But working understanding of local government code beats “developed and maintain software for accounting, budgeting and treasury software for two provinces, a city and more than a dozen municipalities.”

  24. mindanaoan

    justice league, new ideas are interesting. your blabber is a waste of time

  25. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    Not that I’ll be admitting that mine is just blabber and a waste of time, but my ideas are based on the Philippine Constitution and pertinent Philippine laws.

    What is your blabber based on?

  26. taxj

    mindanaoan:

    Try opening your eyes, and see a new sun shine. Of course it’s been there for billions of years, but it helps seeing it as new everyday. Something may be old, but there’s always a new way of looking at it.

    The lgc is old, but it could be new to those who have just read it. It might as well be non-existent to those who refuse to read it for lack of interest. Yet you say your ideas are based on the Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws! I might be missing something here. What do you think?

    As an exercise in fiscal federalism, I say that the lgc is irrational because while certain functions were devolved the funds therefor were not given. It will continue being irrational for as long as the national government is awash with more funds than it can judiciously handle while local agriculturists stare helplessly at rice crops turning yellow for lack of nitrogen. I specifically refer to the billions of pesos earmarked for agriculture which some sectors fear would go the way of the infamous fertilizer scam.

    Most of us cry for an end to CORRUPTION while I howl for rational fiscal federalism. Give the funds to people who would know how to handle it better… to those who could be more easily held accountable. I am saying that there is so much corruption in our country because the present government structure is a fertile ground for it.

    New or not, I think this anomaly can be addressed by mere legislation. Based on the Philippine Constitution, what have you to say?

  27. justice league

    Taxj,

    I think you did miss something.

    The post above yours was from me. Cheers.

  28. mindanaoan

    taxj, here is the difference between federalism and your beloved “fiscal federalism”. the federalist ideals is anchored on the principle of autonomy and self-reliance. your FF is motivated by an entitlement mentality.

  29. justice league

    Mindanaoan ,

    taxj, here is the difference between federalism and your beloved “fiscal federalism”. the federalist ideals is anchored on the principle of autonomy and self-reliance. your FF is motivated by an entitlement mentality.

    You already implied that you want to remain ignorant of the Local Government Code but surely that should not be the case also for the Constitution that you want to revise.

    Given that it is stated in the Constitution that the LGUs are to get their share of the IRA and are entitled to their equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the national wealth within their respective areas; but the Constitution doesn’t end there.

    ARTICLE X
    LOCAL GOVERNMENT

    Section 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.

    Section 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.

    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.

    Taxj just wants the Constitution to be implemented with the idea of his “beloved fiscal federalism”.

    Given the provisions of the Constitution, how can you say that taxj’s FF is motivated by an entitlement mentality and not with the principle of autonomy and self-reliance?

    But don’t bother saying its because the Constitution doesn’t say that it “shall promote self-reliance” in the Local Government Article.

    The Charter doesn’t say that it “prohibits abortion” either but everybody knows that abortion is indeed prohibited by the Constitution.

    You claimed that you developed and maintain software for accounting, etc……………….

    Do those concerned LGUs just wait for their entitlement?

    This discussion is not going well for you.

    You should consider ending this.

  30. Bert

    Hehehehe!

  31. mindanaoan

    for heavens’s sake justice league, i just wanted taxj to expound on his idea of “realistic fiscal federalism”. i’m not interested, in this thread, of your blabber of WHAT IS in the constitution, or the local government code. what i want to know exactly is WHAT IS NOT in the local government code that taxj wants. evidently he wants to see new laws enacted when he said “distrust … bars congress from adopting a more realistic fiscal federalism.” it was the specifics of those laws that he wants that i want to know, and how he defines fiscal federalism.

    i thought for a while that he is onto something by mentioning 20/80 IRA, and “barest essentials” national agencies. but it was disappointing that he was not able to hold on to it farther, because, it seems to me, he had not really worked out the details, especially the numbers to go with it.

    now, can you discover taxj’s desire for “barest essentials”, or read the his definition of realistic fiscal federalism, from studying the constitution or the local government code even if you read them till your eyes jump out of their sockets? have you, for all your self-professed expertise, deduced them by yourself?

    i do not really understand why you insist on inserting yourself when i already hinted it was taxj’s idea that i was interested in. maybe you just want to show off what you know about the local government code. unfortunately, like i said earlier, it is not what is in the local government code that i was interested in, but in what is not in it that taxj wanted. you can fantasize for all i care that you know more than i do, but please, you just muddled taxj’s nascent idea.

  32. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    i’m not interested, in this thread, of your blabber of WHAT IS in the constitution,

    That is obvious by your claim that taxj’s idea does not hold autonomy nor self-reliance.

    Are you still going to argue about autonomy and self-reliance?

    what i want to know exactly is WHAT IS NOT in the local government code that taxj wants. evidently he wants to see new laws enacted

    Further decentralization that Government officials claim they support.

    By supporting Federalism, lawmakers and the President claim they are for decentralization yet they are not doing that yet via new laws when they readily can.

    specifics of those laws that he wants that i want to know,

    More powers, authorities, resources, functions, etc…. decentralized from the National agencies towards the LGUs.

    now, can you discover taxj’s desire for “barest essentials”, or read the his definition of realistic fiscal federalism, from studying the constitution or the local government code even if you read them till your eyes jump out of their sockets? have you, for all your self-professed expertise, deduced them by yourself?

    I don’t have to deduce it.

    DECENTRALIZATION IS WRITTEN!!!

    Can’t you read that for yourself?

    i do not really understand why you insist on inserting yourself when i already hinted it was taxj’s idea that i was interested in.

    More likely I’m just a better ally than your erstwhile one!

    Taxj can always tell me to stop helping him/her.

    unfortunately, like i said earlier, it is not what is in the local government code that i was interested in, but in what is not in it that taxj wanted.

    Well for one thing; it is an 80% share of the IRA for the LGUs. Right now its at 40%.

    you can fantasize for all i care that you know more than i do,

    Given how this discussion turned out, its not a fantasy!

  33. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    Addendum

    With regards to taxj’s claim of “Distrust for local governments and power obssession, not the Charter, bars Congress from adopting a more realistic fiscal federalism.”

    Decentralization will undoubtedly empower LGUs more with greater power, authority, funds, etc… whether in a federal or in the present set up.

    Do you think the likes of a Congressman Dy would actually be in favor of more powers for the likes of a Gov. Padaca who is threat to their hold of a political dynasty in their province?

  34. mindanaoan

    justice league,

    for all your blabber above, and all of taxj’s explanation so far, can you work out the figures to see if “realistic fiscal federalism” is viable through a “barest essential” devolution and 20/80 IRA, even if only with the roughest of figures? doesn’t it occur to you that you need more detail than just two bits of information to begin to evaluate a proposition? can you say if there is anything from your comments so far that has helped define what is “realistic fiscal federalism”, in terms that can be evaluated?

    you see, i’m interested in system design. you are only interested in debate. to you, “decentralization” tells you everything. to me, it’s a useless word in determining funding requirements of national agencies that have been devolved. to you, “More powers, authorities, resources, functions, etc…. decentralized from the National agencies towards the LGUs.” are already specifics of laws that i want from taxj. to me, they are fuzzy nonsense that contain nothing to help us evaluate the original proposition.

    to repeat, i just want to evaluate taxj’s idea. i can’t see anything worth debating with you, so let’s stop this already, OK?

  35. taxj

    mindanaoan:

    I think I have expounded on my idea of a rational FF well enough. If you still don’t get it, there’s nothing more I can do about it.

    Now, can we move on to another point? Let’s start with one of your statements which I think is central to our respective positions.

    You say that, “The federalist ideal is anchored on the principle of autonomy and self-reliance.” I agree. However, please note that the autonomy mentioned here is only for states. A state may or may not give local autonomy to its component lgu’s. Have you forgotten that states may adopt their own constitutions or by-laws?

    How tragic that many local government officials were deceived into thinking that they are fighting for local autonomy through federalism when in fact, if they succeed, they could actually lose it! This is probably one reason why mlq3 says that federalism is messy.

    Your reaction, please. I shall deal with some of your views within the hour.

    justice league:

    Though I find nothing objectionable with what you’ve said so far, I don’t think you are helping me personally at all. What for? Yet I can’t help thinking that you contribute more to the cause than I do. Whatever it is!

  36. justice league

    taxj,

    Though I find nothing objectionable with what you’ve said so far, I don’t think you are helping me personally at all. What for? Yet I can’t help thinking that you contribute more to the cause than I do. Whatever it is!

    Yes. I am not helping you personally.

    In fact if you look at the way I address you as him/her; that states that I don’t know you at all.

    Why should I help you if not for the cause?

    And that cause happens to be that we don’t need Charter change to have a decentralized and empowered local government as what federalists want.

    For the record; are you male or female?

  37. taxj

    mindanaoan: there’s a principle in design that says, “form follows function”. if taxj is convinced decentralization is a good idea, why not adopt a form of government designed with decentralization as the central principle, the federal system?

    taxj: This line is being used by federalists to deceive the unwary. Decentralization in a federal system goes only in so far as the states are concerned. It would be a mistake to assume that a state would automatically go for local autonomy.

    mindanaoan: do you mean, the national government still generates the revenues and gives 80% to LGU’s? and the national government will have to operate its machineries with the remaining 20%? that’s your fiscal federalism? can you work out the figures to see if “realistic fiscal federalism” is viable through a “barest essential” devolution and 20/80 IRA, even if only with the roughest of figures?

    taxj: “I would place a rational FF anywhere near the 20/80 sharing of national income dangled about by Senator Nene Pimentel to get the support of local government officials for his federalism folly. Anyway, the general idea is to put wealth in the cities and provinces where the constituency has a better say and sway.”

    There is nothing here about who generates what. Near 80 is not 80. The second sentence should give us an idea on how near is near. Barest essential for the central government means that as much as possible all powers and functions that can be devolved should be devolved, with due funding.

    mindanaoan: like how? Allocate the whole budget to IRA and nothing for national agencies? how much bigger can be alloted for IRA while still maintaining the national agencies?

    taxj: You cannot allocate the whole budget to IRA. The whole budget is based on national income. Internal Revenue collections from which the IRA is derived is only a part of the national income. The 80% proposed by Sen. Pimentel is way beyond the whole IR income.

    mindanaoan: evidently he wants to see new laws enacted when he said “distrust … bars congress from adopting a more realistic fiscal federalism.” it was the specifics of those laws that he wants that i want to know, and how he defines fiscal federalism.

    taxj: I propose no new law. A realistic fiscal federalism can be done simply by amending the lgc. Here’s how I define fiscal federalism,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiscal_federalism.

  38. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    can you work out the figures to see if “realistic fiscal federalism” is viable through a “barest essential” devolution and 20/80 IRA, even if only with the roughest of figures? doesn’t it occur to you that you need more detail than just two bits of information to begin to evaluate a proposition? can you say if there is anything from your comments so far that has helped define what is “realistic fiscal federalism”, in terms that can be evaluated?

    First, like I said in a post above; I would not have used the term “barest essential”.

    Second, have you taken a look at the proposed charter amendments by the House in the matrix provided above regarding Federalism in Article 2 Section 25 ?

    All it says is “The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments, or clusters thereof, towards the ultimate establishment of a federal system of government.

    Can you cite any figures there?

    How about in the House proposed amendments in the Local Government article; can you see any figures there?

    Can you say if there is anything from the House proposed amendments so far that has helped define what is “federalism”, IN TERMS that can be evaluated?

    you see, i’m interested in system design. …….. “decentralization” tells you everything. to me, it’s a useless word in determining funding requirements of national agencies that have been devolved.

    I think that “decentralization” tells me what “Federalism” in the House proposed amendments tells you.

    What does “Federalism” tell you about determining funding requirements of federal agencies? Can you cite anything specific about determining funding requirements of federal agencies based on the House proposed amendments?

    i can’t see anything worth debating with you,

    Would you care to prove that we can’t achieve local autonomy, self-reliance, and decentralization UNLESS we revise the Constitution for a federal set-up?

  39. mindanaoan

    justice league,

    if there are no figures in the house proposal, i cannot ask figures from taxj? what a silly argument! “federalism” is a kind of government system, the important feature of which is the power relationship between its central government and its subdivisions. i can have a good idea of what it is. now, what can you even picture in the words “realistic fiscal federalism”? how will i know if it’s a good idea or if its plain nonsense if i don’t know enough how it looks like?

    I think that “decentralization” tells me what “Federalism” in the House proposed amendments tells you.

    really? you can’t even agree with taxj’s “barest essentails”! can’t you see the word is begging for the question, “how much of it?”. we already have trouble funding the two devolved agencies, a source of taxj’s lament, and it doesn’t occur to you to ask how much more devolution we can go before the system go haywire?

    “Would you care to prove that we can’t achieve local autonomy, self-reliance, and decentralization UNLESS we revise the Constitution for a federal set-up?”

    if you mean lgu autonomy, no we don’t need to revise the constitution. we have the local government code already, like you said. not debatable.

  40. mindanaoan

    taxj,

    I think I have expounded on my idea of a rational FF well enough. If you still don’t get it, there’s nothing more I can do about it.

    yeah, i’m disappointed.

    my problem with the general principle of your local autonomy is that it’s centered on increasing the IRA. you know of course it’s an entitlement. it’s based largely on population and land area. and no matter how lousy or corrupt the local leader is, he gets to use the same amount. not a good idea to promote self-reliance, efficiency and good governance.

    i can’t understand though why you think local officials are deceived in fighting for federalism, as if thinking they’re fighting for local autonomy. listening to them speak, i think they understand the issues well enough. or maybe, your local officials over there are dumb?

  41. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    if there are no figures in the house proposal, i cannot ask figures from taxj? what a silly argument!

    Oh yes you can ask. But if he/she can’t come up with them; I don’t think you should use it against him/her.

    For all we know, taxj is probably just a private citizen with everything coming out of his/her pocket just to provide us with this information. (I am just a private citizen myself.)

    Members of the House of Representatives are paid with government money and they even get to be “allowed six staff members, each receiving from P9,000 to P25,000 monthly.”

    With a coterie of paid staff, even they didn’t produce figures.

    //www.cibac.org/content/view/181/46/

    BTW, I know you’re paid with government money.

    You maintain software for accounting, budgeting etc………..

    now, what can you even picture in the words “realistic fiscal federalism”? how will i know if it’s a good idea or if its plain nonsense if i don’t know enough how it looks like?

    I picture the implementation of Sec 2 A of the Local Government Code. But then you’d ignore that so there’s little point in discussing further.

    really? you can’t even agree with taxj’s “barest essentails”!

    Yes.

    And I’m glad that I don’t since I don’t have the burden of having to prove that.

    can’t you see the word is begging for the question, “how much of it?”. we already have trouble funding the two devolved agencies, a source of taxj’s lament, and it doesn’t occur to you to ask how much more devolution we can go before the system go haywire?

    If two agencies were devolved; why should the entire budget for them stay with the National government?

    if you mean lgu autonomy, no we don’t need to revise the constitution. we have the local government code already, like you said. not debatable.

    How about the self-reliance and decentralization issue?

  42. mindanaoan

    justice league,

    Oh yes you can ask. But if he/she can’t come up with them; I don’t think you should use it against him/her.

    why not? it’s the details that tell you if an idea is a workable proposition or just empty buzz words. and you don’t need a six-man staff to come up with rough numbers. doubling the IRA will deduct more 200B from the budget. that means you need to cut the budget of the NGAs in half, because total budget of NGAs is around 400B. is that hard? so now, is 200B still viable to run the NGAs?

    and what about self-reliance and decentralization?

  43. taxj

    mindanaoan: doubling the IRA will deduct more 200B from the budget. that means you need to cut the budget of the NGAs in half, because total budget of NGAs is around 400B. is that hard? so now, is 200B still viable to run the NGAs?

    taxj: Wow! What genius! I was eyeing at the funds for poverty alleviation to fund the agriculture functions of lgu’s. And you come up with this brillant idea. Brace yourself. 200B in the hands of enlightened local officials could render the NGA redundant or unnecessary. With that amount we can attain self-suffiency in food within a year! This could be a new topic that I would eagerly participate in.

    You just gave me an idea. it will help if we just concentrate on one bite at a time. Or one proposed amendment at a time. Let’s start with this: Amend the LGC by transferring funds for poverty alleviation as well as for food concerns to lgu’s. Accordingly, visit its provisions re fiscal accountability. See this simple amendment can entirely revolutionize our economy, and prevent the billion-peso scams in our national government.

    mindanaoan: i can’t understand though why you think local officials are deceived in fighting for federalism, as if thinking they’re fighting for local autonomy. listening to them speak, i think they understand the issues well enough. or maybe, your local officials over there are dumb?

    taxj: Do they understand? Do you? Federalism guarantees autonomy to its constituent states, but not to the constituencies of its states! In other words, cities and provinces may lose the autonomy that they now enjoy, after the transition to federalism. Is this clear enough? Agree or disagree?

  44. justice league

    Mindanaoan,

    it’s the details that tell you if an idea is a workable proposition or just empty buzz words. and you don’t need a six-man staff to come up with rough numbers. doubling the IRA will deduct more 200B from the budget. that means you need to cut the budget of the NGAs in half, because total budget of NGAs is around 400B. is that hard? so now, is 200B still viable to run the NGAs?

    Why not?

    With great funds come GREAT RESPONSIBILITY!

    The local governments will have to take over as much corresponding responsibility as they can, right?

    By supporting “Federalism”, the Executive department is signifying its willingness to relinquish certain functions/authority and with it certain funds to the local government units.

    And by indicating their support for “Federalism” ; LGUs are signifying their willingness to accept funds and corresponding responsibilities/authorities from the National government.

    Why? Do you expect that only funds will change hands?

    That is how it should be in a federal government and that is how it should be in a decentralized form of our government.

    and what about self-reliance and decentralization?

    Would you care to prove that we can’t achieve self-reliance of local government and decentralization UNLESS we revise the Constitution for a federal set-up?

  45. mindanaoan

    taxj,

    you must be joking. i was arguing the IRA cannot be increased that much because it requires halving the budget of nga’s. on its face, thats not a reasonable proposal.

    but even if you have an extra 200B, what makes you think lgu’s can spend it better than nga’s? what is the general principle why you think giving much of the budget to lgu’s is a good idea, given we have a unitary form of government?

  46. mindanaoan

    justice league, how do you enforce responsibility? by putting controls on the source of funds, right? which means, still looking up to manila. so much for decentralization.

    Would you care to prove that we can’t achieve self-reliance of local government and decentralization UNLESS we revise the Constitution for a federal set-up?

    again, if you mean lgu’s, no need for revision. we don’t even need to go federal for that.

  47. taxj

    mindanaoan,

    I’m not kidding. I can prove that yours is a brilliant idea. It is very beneficial and doable. Half of nfa’s budget to lgu’s? WOW!

    Basically, what does nfa do? It buys rice and sells it at a loss. It is losing money in importation by the billions just to stabilize the prices. Secretary Yap says that we import only 10% of our requirements because 90% of it is produced by farmers. Fertilizers alone account for an increase in rice production by up to 30%, so, if we our farmers use the right amount of fertilizers we would have no rice shortage. We will have no need to import. We would have no need for nfa. We can do this by spending much less than P5 billion for our fertilizer requirements alone. And this is only 2.5% of what you want to give to lgu’s!

    You ask, “but even if you have an extra 200B, what makes you think lgu’s can spend it better than nga’s?” Ask a federalist the same question but replacing lgu’s with states. His answer would be my answer too.

    With your brilliance, why are you so silent on a very crucial question, “A federal government guarantees autonomy to its states. Does states guarantee autonomy to its constituent cities and municipalities?”

    mindanaoan: what is the general principle why you think giving much of the budget to lgu’s is a good idea, given we have a unitary form of government?

    taxj: the same principle why you wouid give much of the budget to lgu’s in a federal form of government.

  48. mindanaoan

    taxj,

    maybe this shows why you need to work out details extensively before putting out a proposal, because it doesnt make sense. you were correct that nfa buys and sells rice, and that one of its tasks is to stabilize prices. for this very reason, it needs to have the economy of scale. you cannot replace its function at the lgu level.

    and we would have no need of the nfa if you believe we wont have a rice shortage? what if we do? one of that agency’s purpose is food security. we need a government agency to ensure we have food supplies no matter what. we abolish it only at our own peril. when we go federal, nfa will probably be still there at the federal level.

    (by the way, you are wrong to connect fertilizers and rice production to nfa. that’s the job of the DA.)

    You ask, “but even if you have an extra 200B, what makes you think lgu’s can spend it better than nga’s?” Ask a federalist the same question but replacing lgu’s with states. His answer would be my answer too.

    there is a whale of a difference between lgu’s in my question and states in a federal system. your answer would be off-tangent. states will have to raise their own revenue, while lgu’s just receive their entitlement. it’s the difference between one who earns his own keep and one who just receives his allowance. it’s not the same at all.

  49. taxj

    mindanaoan: …you are wrong to connect fertilizers and rice production to nfa…

    taxj: Here’s the connection: nfa is about food security. Less shortages, less need for nfa. No shortage, no need for it. Too much fund for nfa could mean less for agriculture. Less money for agriculture results in food shortages.

    Your blabber about revenue collection and entitlement is off-tanget. Your question is about spending. Who spends better? Isn’t it? What makes you think states can spend better than nga’s?

  50. taxj

    Geo: Fine-tuning a Constitution is done via Chacha.

    Taxj: Fine-tuning an engine is making it work so that there will be no need to change it. The Constitution enshrines local autonomy. Congress doesn’t act accordingly. What needs to be changed is not the Constitution but Congress. Or the men that constitute it.

    Geo: How broken down do you need the engine to be before you replace it? There has been one peaceful transition of national power in 40 years! The nation’s economy — in relevant terms — has sunk downwards during that 40 year period. The social fabric is very torn apart.

    Taxj: Before you dump that engine which seems so broken down, please look more closely as to why it appears to be so. It might only need some major adjustments.

    Federalists correctly diagnose our country’s illness: too much concentration of power and wealth in imperial Manila. The fault is in the medicine they prescribed. Federalists profess love for local autonomy, but, they fail to mention that federalism has nothing to do with it. While federalism guarantees autonomy to states, it says nothing about the extent to which states shall grant local autonomy. I hope this is clear enough.

    Geo: The President’s office, wielding power by one person, has proven impossible to control. The Senate has been reduced to a platform to launch a Presidential bid. It is also not answerable to any specific constituency. Manila collects and spends the wealth of the provinces. It’s too expensive for “normal” people to run for office. And so on…..

    Taxj: These concerns are well within the realm of Congress, an enlightened one.

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