The Long View: When size doesn’t matter

The Long View
When size doesn’t matter
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:30:00 06/29/2009


One thing is sure: swept under the rug is the issue of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her administration being the least-respected and least-liked in modern times.

The political landscape is littered with the wrecks of formidable party machines that broke down and failed to accomplish their mission: to get a presidential candidate successfully elected. Going back to the presidential campaigns of 1986, 1992 and 1998, Ferdinand Marcos, Ramon Mitra Jr. and Jose de Venecia Jr. all presided over coalitions that firmly controlled the lower house. They all went down in defeat. The common complaint of all three candidates was: the local leaders, on which their pyramids of power rested, took the money and ran – for office – with the cash of their national candidate for president.

This is the dilemma faced by the President and the colossal administration coalition she has nurtured all these long years. But every official in that coalition faces the problem of politics being a continuum, in which the power held yesterday becomes less relevant than the power held tomorrow.

Much has been made of the ability of the ruling coalition to maintain its control of the House in 2004 and 2007. It was no achievement. In the first place, no administration has ever lost the House since 1935. (Even when the presidents running for reelection lost, their administrations still won majorities in the House of Representatives.) Second, for ruling coalitions, the tripartite political pillars of guns, goons and gold are most effectively deployed in local races, where the electorate can be held captive.

Within the lifetime of a specific administration, House control is useful in keeping that administration in place. But when the president, as party chief, must lead the coalition in a campaign to extend the administration’s control of government, the House must quickly realign itself: and so overnight, an administration coalition whose candidate loses the race for the presidency transforms itself, by force of necessity into the new, rival candidate’s, administration coalition.

This is the clear limit of the local versus the national. And there is a certain logic behind it: local representation might hold the electorate hostage to the provincial Mafiosi, but that is the price we pay for representative government, locally. On the other hand, national office might put those offices primarily within reach of those who are better communicators and even actors.

But as representatives of our national characteristics, so to speak – and this includes the idea that the Mafiosi are best held at bay, not by the common tao (people) but by champions anointed by the common tao to articulate his interests – then our national representatives can, and by political necessity do, articulate these commonly held values.

They are essentially a human quarantine on the Mafiosi. In this manner is the concept of checks-and-balances demonstrated in real life.

It is imperfect, inefficient and liable to abuse by officeholders. But if the public attitude is along the lines of limiting the harm officialdom can do to ordinary people, then it is the best yet devised by Filipinos, for Filipinos, to prevent the citizenry from being kept out of the power game altogether. It’s not for nothing that we have only two kinds of nationally elected officials: the chief executive and senators.

Armed with a House majority, a president can govern pretty much as he or she pleases; but without a senate majority, no president can fulfill the ambition inherent in the office, which is either to govern for life, or to build a permanent ruling coalition.

We saw this play out in 2007. Time and again, the ruling coalition – Team Unity – went into the campaign thinking its local strength was a national one; while the opposition – mainly the Genuine Opposition, but also the independents – would bring the house down each and every time by simply pointing to the President, and all her works, and all her accomplices. The only survivors of Team Unity were those with a long enough track record to justify the benefit of the doubt on the part of the electorate.

The result was also investigation after investigation, less in aid of legislation and more in aid of oversight, and simply to remind the ruling coalition that it was mistrusted and held in the lowest regard by the public. That was enough, because it served to prevent the President and her coalition from ruling with complete impunity and putting in place a system that would ensure that, as a group, they’d rule in perpetuity.

The public’s message then has been: it is not worth it to burn down the barn to smoke out a rat; but neither should the rat be accorded permanent living quarters in the national barn. This is the problem facing both the President and her allies come May 2010.

With no levers left to control, forces to command and a treasury to use and abuse, no one would follow Arroyo out of sheer loyalty; and for her servants, to remain identified with her is to guarantee perpetual servitude to all future presidents. This is because their own ambitions will be stalled and even thwarted by going down in national defeat due to her kiss of death. So at best, they can – and will – try to maintain their hold on their provincial constituents and, for some, this will be enough. Better to be a big frog in a small pond.

However, if the public can be made to forget the reasons the President and her people are – in the minds of the public – merely bandit chiefs, and unsuitable for national office, then they have a fighting chance. And so: bread and circuses, for everyone! It postpones the inevitable, at least. At best, it opens up avenues for subverting a true reckoning in the polls.

87 comments

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    • Carl on June 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    The problem with getting out of the rat race is having to learn to get along with less cheese.

    • Ardeen on June 29, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I think the problem really is Filipinos voting deserving senators.

    • taxj on June 29, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Ardeen, sino ang may problema?

    Siza really doesn’t matter. What matters is how the elections are conducted. It could be stolen again, or derailed. You know.

  1. When will Gloria finally grow up and learn from history?

    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.” Mahatma Gandhi

    • Phil Manila on June 29, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Manolo’s argument above hews to what former speaker of the U.S. House of Representaives Tip O’Neill Jr. said that ‘all politics is local.’

    Provincial and local politicians, down to the barangay captain, will position themselves vis-a-vis the national leaders, based on their own power self-preservation, aka who gets what, when, where, and how.

    Reduced to sound bytes: KAMPI tayo ngayon, bukas LAKAS, tapos GO (Genuine Opposition) na tayo. 🙂

    • d0d0ng on June 29, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    “Armed with a House majority, a president can govern pretty much as he or she pleases; but without a senate majority, no president can fulfill the ambition inherent in the office, which is either to govern for life, or to build a permanent ruling coalition.”

    The administration currently does not have the 3/4 votes in the house nor a senate majority. To have charter change after 2010, Arroyo through a party or coalition needs to have 3/4 votes or senate majority.

    • ramrod on June 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Automated elections won’t push through, the Filipino partner of Smartmatic backed out of the deal.
    …its back to manual counting and sudden brownouts. 🙂

    • manuelbuencamino on June 29, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    PaLaKa will collapse if its presidential candidate loses.

    • Arden on June 29, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    @taxj: the truth is if we keep voting senators like Lito Lapid or Bong Revilla then yeah that is a problem. They can be stolen but face it no one* gives a finger about Dagdag-Bawas in all its incarnations.

    1 Does not include Leftists and Politicians

    • J_AG on June 30, 2009 at 5:38 am

    I wonder what would happen if the budget process was placed back with Congress totally with an annual expiry date. No more re-enacted budget which has given the executive the discretionary power to use the purse and no more automatic appropriation for debt service and payments.

    The Philippine state has a law that removed a bankruptcy process for the state.

    That has made the senate the de-facto oversight committee over the executive since they have a national mandate.

    With the forever weak fiscal position of the state we can now observe the implementing agencies of laws (executive) and the arbiters of the laws (judiciary) have become simply vehicles for private interest since they become dependent on outside private interests for their economic survival.

    The executive and judiciary are now the executive committees for vested interest and the cycle is strengthened by the capture of the electoral process.

    Hence at the local level we elect our autocrats. Advances in communication have helped the Senate act as a bar to executive abuse but the downside is that popular so called mythical heroes are also elected.

    However the weak state still does not have the means to regulate the main actors in a society. Labor and the owners of production. He who has the gold still rules.

    • taxj on June 30, 2009 at 5:53 am

    When size matters, there could be a problem. The mindless voters far outnumber the minded. Only a Garci could alter it.

    Automation, dead? It was COMELEC Chairman Abalos the last time around. Now, who? Do I hearing anyone crying out MURDER? It’s a crime, isn’t it?

    • d0d0ng on June 30, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Automation is not dead. Partial automation can be done in polling places with high voting population density.

    The benefit is still there to speed up the process of where there is large concentration of votes. Those areas are reasonably accurate for trending as the less concentrated areas are slow with the manually processed ERs and summary of canvas.

    • J_AG on June 30, 2009 at 7:46 am

    In the final analysis we will have an unending competition for the top post which is likened to a merry go round.

    The societal system and structure remain unchanged.

    This can go on until the safety valve of foreign migration runs its course. Parts of the country will resemble Somalia while parts of the country will resemble the slum colonies in India.

    There will be few enclaves amongst the multitudes living in squalor.

    • Carl on June 30, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I agree with you, J_AG. While government is heavily indebted and remains weak, it will be beholden to the purse and the influence of special interests. These vested interests run the gamut, from opportunistic businessmen to nefarious communist fronts. People are aware that our government is “soft” and can be manipulated one way or the other. That is why there is really very little trust in government.

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 10:17 am

    This can go on until the safety valve of foreign migration runs its course. Parts of the country will resemble Somalia while parts of the country will resemble the slum colonies in India.

    There will be few enclaves amongst the multitudes living in squalor.
    —————————————-

    I don’t believe in this scenario really. Filipinos are smarter and more sensible minded than we give ourselves credit. Politics is just one element and it may look like most politicians are out to drive the country to the ground, it would not serve their best interest to do so. Like parasites, they thrive better as long as the host is doing well also. In a perverted way, they have to practice sustainability in corruption if they want to stay happy in the long run, hence the “corruption sustainability” measures like “moderate the greed, etc.”
    Businesses will still thrive thanks to proactive businessmen, and we always manage to get out of the pickles we get into anyway. I don’t believe any sitting president will allow the country to go to the dogs, unless he/she is contemplating suicide and whether we agree or disagree, the leaders that we have did not attain their positions simply by wishing on a star – they have what it takes to get them there.
    We are welcome to come up with worst case scenarios, its perfectly okay, then again, its better if we involve ourselves in working for better outcomes and work together for a better country inspite of government…

    • J_AG on June 30, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Literally ramrod do you know where all the human excrement (shit)
    goes to collected by Maynilad and Manila Water and the remaining uncollected shit in every small urban and large urban communities.

    If you do not know where the shit goes in the communities that make up Philippine society how can you expect to solve the problems of human development in Philippine society.

    I strongly suggest you take a tour of the NCR.

    • J_AG on June 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Point to any state that have advanced their society without government. Governments are the administrators of the state.

    The guiding mechanism for effective free markets is government.

    The owners of production and labor do not operate and cannot operate effectively without effective governance.

    Do you think the Ayala corporation cares where your shit goes?

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 10:48 am

    MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Richard Gordon Monday said he found “very suspicious” the pullout of Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) as partner of Smartmatic in the P7.2-billion project to automate the 2010 elections.

    “Is there somebody forcing partnership with Smartmatic or is this a deliberate attempt to torpedo the automation process so there will be cheating as usual?” asked Gordon, who has been vocal on his desire for poll automation to happen in next year’s polls.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090630-213086/Firms-pullout-very-suspicious-says-Gordon

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I didn’t say “without” government, but “inspite” of government. Like most businessmen/people, I find it easier to work with the current, let it work for us rather than go against it.
    Like I said, no one is that “evil” that they will allow this country to go to the dogs…they have children and grandchildren too. These people in the “worst government known to man” as you may believe, are “human” too. They also have aspirations and their own concept of what the Philippines should be, sure they need their cut, but point to me which government has zero corruption.
    Its not “doomsday” yet and as long as we clean up “our shit” from our own backyards regularly and not expect someone else to clean up after us (like responsible adults) we’ll be okay. then there’s always Malabanan,
    The garbage you see in NCR is not entirely the fault of government, we all share in this responsibility. I really don’t know why some people like to blame everything on someone when collectively we can do better.
    External guidance (from government) or from a leader, pastor, father, etc. is good, but in their absence can we really just lie down and die? Or is there such a thing as internal motivation, and we can succeed inspite of obstacles and we have only ourselves to blame.
    …bottomline, we have to clean up our own shit…its the mature thing to do…

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 11:17 am

    @J_AG

    …then again, I may be wrong, and we’re all doomed, we better all high tail it out of the country!

    …if you’re having problems getting out your own garbage, let me know, there are some very enterprising children in my neighborhood that goes around houses and offering to take out the garbage for Php5.00 per trip. Of course they don’t get any business from me because my kids are trained to take out the garbage every night from the house and to the garbage collecing area where a big truck takes them out every 11pm on the dot. I notice this is happening in other neighborhoods also, quite efficient really. Which part of NCR do you live? We need to report that to MMDA.

    • Carl on June 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    One would either be an anarchist or an objectivist, who follows the philosophy of rational self-interest, in order to seriously believe that situations just take care of themselves. Ask Alan Greenspan these days about how financial markets self-correct and take care of themselves.

    • J_AG on June 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    It is sad and tragic that when discussion on most blogs happen the contextual ignorance of many shine through.

    Once again ramrod literally do you know where your shit goes?

    A simple direct question that could have been answered with I do not know instead of a long rambling anecdotal and philosophical musings would have sufficed.

    The Ayala family have the franchise to cart peoples shit away really….

    • PARI on June 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    What i don’t understand is why is there a need for a multi-party system in the charter and then move for a coalition government or grand party everytime after the election?

    Seems to me that the problem is the structure itself: We are a weak democracy with a crippled congress with an executive thought to be powerful (when truth is, she is held hostage by interest groups) all under a unitary government.

    Top that with electing the plurality president that the majority will most likely never like. The multiparty system is exactly the reverse of democracy. Our version is where 60% of the population will never have a say, becasue 40% of the population favors one.

    • mlq3 on June 30, 2009 at 3:27 pm
      Author

    PARI, the law of unintended consequences. the framers of the 1987 charter thought they could improve things by junking what worked.

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Jag

    Why are you so preoccupied with “shit” anyway? Don’t you have anything better to do? 🙂

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    @Jag

    If “shit” is your only concept of reality in Philippine politics, what does that make you? If all you have is “shit” as the contents of your head how do we address you?

    • ramrod on June 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    In the final analysis we will have an unending competition for the top post which is likened to a merry go round.

    The societal system and structure remain unchanged.

    This can go on until the safety valve of foreign migration runs its course. Parts of the country will resemble Somalia while parts of the country will resemble the slum colonies in India.

    There will be few enclaves amongst the multitudes living in squalor.
    ———————————————-

    What do call this? Ramblings? Gripes? Doomsday prophecy? Do you have the statisitics, actual studies to show the accuracy of this “final” analysis? Have you actually gone to Somalia? Ask the UN forces we send there for EI (thats extra instruction for you) and you’ll take back what you irresponsibly wrote.
    From where I’m sitting things are a lot better than the previous years, financially and facility wise, etc.
    Going around with a chip on your shoulder isn’t going to help, you’ll probably find that out once you actually involve yourself in something productive (or destructive), but the key words are “actually involve” not just irresponsibly prophecise.
    So now you like to take it out on the Ayala’s? Definitely they do not care about you, unless you’re employed with them or at the receiving end of their charities.

    I dare you prove the Somalia allusion and I’ll leave the country without batting an eyelash.

    • d0d0ng on June 30, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Jag, the Somalia scenario is farfetched. Although all the top Filipinos in business or their spouses have dual citizenship in other countries just in case of emergency. It is one of the fundamental axiom in this country and in the world that business should go as usual. Even how bad the Philippine politics, it does not restrict business enterprise. In fact, our millionaires and billionaires flourish under the current administration. Lucio Tan gained business traction in other countries. Aboitiz and Sorianos combined forces with the government seeking foreign contracts aggressively. It is one of Arroyo’s strength that opposition can only gripe that taxpayer are paying for her trips abroad.

    To the business sector, the form of government either presidential or parliamentary does not matter. Business as an institution is a protected class. Any politician who will rule this country recognized that.

    • d0d0ng on June 30, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    “This can go on until the safety valve of foreign migration runs its course. Parts of the country will resemble Somalia while parts of the country will resemble the slum colonies in India.”

    The Philippines do a better job than any country in marketing its excess capacity to foreign market. The government is active in exporting labor to keep the country afloat with foreign remittances. The foreign remittances also changes the slum colonies. The government through its IRA funded the slum colonies which can be manipulated to deliver the needed votes for the election or representative to congress. It is a win-win situation as far as the current administration is concerned.

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2009 at 12:08 am

    “With no levers left to control, forces to command and a treasury to use and abuse, no one would follow Arroyo out of sheer loyalty; and for her servants, to remain identified with her is to guarantee perpetual servitude to all future presidents.”

    That is if the successor is strong enough to take control because those levers are up for grabs as political hands would change. In case of proxies, we would not know until the fog is over. Loyalties can change overtime only if survival is at stake.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Local political issues or maneuvers rule election outcomes at the local level. Another set of yardsticks is used for candidates for national posts. Hence: size doesn’t matter. This is how it is. This is how it should be. It would be more so if local governments acquire a higher degree of self reliance through larger taxating powers or tax shares powers. It’s when Imperial Manila no longer control our lives.

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2009 at 4:31 am

    “Size doesn’t matter. This is how it is. This is how it should be. It would be more so if local governments acquire a higher degree of self reliance through larger taxating powers or tax shares powers. It’s when Imperial Manila no longer control our lives.”

    Unfortunately, not in the present form. Local government is dependent on the IRA allocation. Local government is very much dependent on the national government revenues since it has no authority to tax or generate revenues. This is where size does matter and current admininistration is set to exploit in the coming 2010 election.

    • pilipino on July 1, 2009 at 4:48 am

    “Local government is dependent on the IRA allocation. Local government is very much dependent on the national government revenues since it has no authority to tax or generate revenues.” –dodong

    that’s what taxj and I are saying all along, what we need is more power for the locals including taxation (maybe separate provincial and city tax returns). sad to say you’re right no can do with present set up. we need concon asap for most of the ills of present constitution, maybe after 2010.

    • J_AG on July 1, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Ramrod move your family to Basilan and make sure you bring your brand new Ford Expedition and go to picnics there to enjoy the scenery.

    By the way depending on where you live Manila Water which is owned by the Ayalas is obligated to pick up your shit for which you are charged. The politically correct word for your shit is sewage and no I do not think your kids handle your families sewage. Ancient Rome had their own water and sewage systems built. You must have either graduated from U.P. Ateneo or La Salle sometime after the the late 70’s – 80’s

    This is for Dodong — The Philippines is a net importer of capital and goods and services. The country as it is does not have surplus on an aggregate level to export except labor.

    In the merchandise markets and capital markets we are in serious deficits and have been thru history. However in the labor markets we have a surplus. That surplus however plus foreign investments which come in two forms (loans and investments) are short term and long term obligations that we still have to pay for. All foreign investments are obligations drawn against the economy.

    KISS

    • Carl on July 1, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Many Filipinos, especially those in Metro Manila, live in blessed ignorance about the harsh realities that exist in many parts of their country. The state of lawlessness in Patikul, Sulo, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan or Ipil, Zamboanga are not too different from the disorder in parts of Somalia. The Bishop of Ipil will readily attest to how his parishioners, on all levels, are subjected to raids and threats by outlaws and terrorists on a daily basis.

    • mlq3 on July 1, 2009 at 9:22 am
      Author

    but you often hear of entrepereneurs complaining of how national taxes are compounded by local taxes. besides VAT on food, for example, there’s a local tax imposed in QC; I’ve heard seaweeds exportersd complaining of how local government taxes are killing their industry down South; and the more urbanized local governments now have the problem of excess income.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    There has to be a balancing factor somewhere. The general idea is to assign tasks to local governments where they would be more effective. And giving them the necessary funding in the form of tax shares or taxing powers that may be taken from national income. Some call it fiscal federalism.

    Surely Congress could work out a rationale scheme, if only they’d put their hearts into it. It’s more convenient to blame the plane rather than the pilot because the plane cannot defend itself. But we have learned long ago that it’s not necessary to burn a whole house for a roasted pig.

    How many billions of pesos are entrusted to Secretary Arthur Yap who’s not even an agriculturist when so many trained technicians at the local level remain less effective for lack of support? Why entrust the feeding program to DECS which obviously lack personnel and space for the job? LGU’s can easily mobilize parents to help feed their children with, mongo, malunggay, camote and shrimps?

    That we can foster the bayanihan spirit at the local levels. has been proven by many LGU’s. What’s keeping us from having more of them? We do need a revolution. And it should start with ourselves.

  2. TaxJ,

    for an advocate of local governments, you had it wrong.
    the dept of agricultur’s budget is devolved. I heard sec Yap complaining to the congressmen and senatorsn in a hearing for the congressional oversight for agricultural and fiaheries modernization that his dept has a lot of responsibility withput authority since the budget for agriculture has long been devolved.

    maybe we should advocate for equal sharing of the IRA regardless of contribution to the national coffers or prioritize the poorer provinces and let them have more share.

    the pooper places deterirorates further because they continue to get the shorter end of the stick or less of the pie; while the developed ones get more because they are the revenue centers and they would think that they deserve such share.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Sorry, but… The law of unintended consequences is working in evil’s favor. The march weakened the opposition and strenghtened her. Mild doses of a venom activates antibodies and immunizes a person.

    It would be more prudent to keep our powders dry and intact for a big bang. It would also help if we go directly after her, not the phantom which she created for us to chase.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Sorry. Wrong forum.

    karl garcia, at one point Secretary Yap complained that he had to entrust resources to people with whom he has no control, referring to local technicians. This is about the fertilizer subsidy program. This is the true picture. Too much fund with too little personnel to work on it because they were already devolved, but not the budget.

    Then there were the fertilizer scam of Jocjoc Bolante and Quedancor’s swine dispersal program which runs in the billions of pesos. Now there’s this P29 billion at Secretary Yap’s disposal published by the PDI a week ago. What about the FIELDS dangled by GMA at the height of the rice crisis last year? There’s no mention of LGU’s there.

    And how about the billions of pesos which Secretary Yap uses to subsidize foreign farmers, to the detriment of local ones?
    Give them to LGU’s and surely we’ll have rice suffiency in a year or two.

    • Carl on July 1, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    We’re treading on thin ice when it comes to empowering LGU’s. It all sounds very well in theory. But in practice, it can be a double-edged sword.

    The best way to go about this is to study the matter very thoroughly and go about it one step at a time. If not handled properly, it can become a thousand Frankensteins.

    As Manolo points out, LGU’s can abuse powers of taxation and create tremendous problems for business enterprises. The seaweed industry is but one example. Telephone companies have also been harassed, as LGU’s strive to collect local franchise taxes from them. Some LGU’s, like the NPA, try to extort fees and taxes from mobile cell sites. LGU’s also extort from businesses by withholding certain permits or citing zoning ordinances (which can be waived for a fee). If LGU’s are left to their own devices, they will resort to double taxation, charging their own VAT and income taxes.

    Behind every small-town official, potentially lurks a tinhorn despot.

  3. ok taxj.all points duly noted.

    some monday morning quarterbacking…
    question did you believe there was a rice crisis?
    as far as luzon is concerned it was only horded by the bulacan cartel. I am sure there are also cartels for visayas and mindanao.

    we were made to believe that there was such a crisis.

    about subsidizing foreign farmers, the whole third world is subsidizing protectionists provisions of the first world when it comes to their agriculture.

    • karl garcia on July 1, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    taxjoven,

    this is a delayed reaction….. i stand corrected on the devolution of budget.many thanks.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    karl, you said so yourself. There indeed was a rice crises, albeit an artificial one. Right? Cotabato had abundant cheap rice at market stalls until visitors from Manila came for a short visit. All of a sudden rice disappeared and prices skyrocketed. NFA has to create a market for its imported rice, or it will rot in bodegas.

    Budget allocation was limited to MOE of devolved personnel. Nothing for programs and projects. It was retained at Imperial Manila, only to be squandered by the likes of Jocjoc Bolante, and yes, Secretary Yap whose services never went beyond press releases.

    More precisely, GATT passed restrictions on farm subsidies. We complied to the letter. US, in particular, didn’t. Secretary Yap imported rice at a cost much higher than what it was willing to give local farmers. It buys only one percent of local produce, and imports ten percent.

    My point? The Constitution did not create this anomaly. Its implementors did it. Nor can it be remedied by a cha-cha.

    • taxj on July 1, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    d0d0ng: Automation is not dead. Partial automation can be done in polling places with high voting population density.

    Thank you, Mr. COMELEC.

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    “but you often hear of entrepereneurs complaining of how national taxes are compounded by local taxes. besides VAT on food, for example, there’s a local tax imposed in QC; I’ve heard seaweeds exportersd complaining of how local government taxes are killing their industry down South; and the more urbanized local governments now have the problem of excess income.”

    The local government power to tax is severely limited. There is a long list of taxes that cannot be imposed because they are already paid to the national government In short, the main function to tax is with national government. Some local government are creative to call some fancy name to differentiate from the taxes paid to BIR or Customs, but a business can go to the Tax Court for remedy.

    • SoP on July 2, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Increasing LGU powers is fine as long as it’s balanced by increasing the powers of the ombudsman or creating another constitutional level commission that would empower the investigation of corruption (such as Hong Kong’s and Australia’s Independent Commissions Against Corruption). As somebody has mentioned, the Ombudsman is powerless against the congress. I can’t seen how an Ombudsman office which is perennially understaffed and underfunded can investigate Philippine corruption cases. We’re up high on transparency international’s list.

    This should be high up on the list of national priority. Maybe, we can take away the budget for education (by eliminating public schools and funding for UP, letting private schools flourish) and give it all to an Ombudsman or a hypothetical ICAC and see what happens.

    • d0d0ng on July 2, 2009 at 3:45 am

    “Ombudsman is powerless against the congress.”

    That is correct. The constitution protects the highest officials of the 3 co-equal government, (1) the President, (2) members of Congress (house and senate) and (3) Justices of the Supreme Court.

    The constitutional protection is necessary so one branch cannot sabotage the other.

    These high officials can only be removed by impeachment.

    To change this rule, you have to change the constitution.

    • d0d0ng on July 2, 2009 at 4:03 am

    “We can take away the budget for education (by eliminating public schools and funding for UP, letting private schools flourish).”

    This will discriminate the large segment of population living in poverty as to their access to education.

    This is non-negotiable under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly economic and social rights in individual right to education.

    The Department of Education has the largest budget in the country.

    • SoP on July 2, 2009 at 4:23 am

    But the UN also said Filipinos should have a minimum of 1800 calories a day. That’s not working out for Filipinos either.

    We just have to set our priorities for the poor. Should they eat or should they study?

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