Federal Alternative

The desire to have the freedom to choose, the freedom to be your own master is a universal nature.  It is understandable that the  yearning for self-determination is so strong for people who have suffered discrimination.

When the people are oppressed, when the land are exploited, those who are left behind naturally would demand for an equitable distribution of their rightful share.  The people’s yearning for progress and development will never ceased specially when they feel that their supposed protector-the government- are found most often bending to serve the interest of the few.  When the government can not be found to protect its people, we can’t blame the people if they would protect themselves.

The unitary government that we have today failed to improve the lives of so many Filipinos. One of every four Filipinos or  26% of the population are still mired in poverty. And this has been the case for so long. It is easy to surmise, our unitary government failed to deliver the goods. It is no longer the choice, it is also no longer the alternative.

There are sectors in this country who have suffered neglect for so long. Can we blame them if they seek to correct this injustice? Should we blame them if they no longer trust? And that they would rather find their own solution according the dictates of their culture and tradition?

On the contrary, for so long, those who are in power showed contemptuous attitude towards this desire for self-determination. When the Regions (the people through their leaders) clamored for more equitable share of the nations revenue, many who felt so comfortable under the protective armpit of this unitary system said no.

Now that Federalism is given a fair shot, there are those who would object to the proposition. To be fair though, some of their observations are valid.  One most common issue against Federalism is hurled against local leaders, who many are wont to be dynastic. If we shift to a Federal system, these local political dynasties will be  in power forever enslaving the people till time immemorial.

We can however institutionalized the vetting process for our leaders. We can have a strong party system where the leaders can contest among themselves and where the best leader may be given a chance to lead. During the  writing of the State Constitution, an anti dynasty law can be clearly stated. Ex. A leader will be allowed one term of  four years and one reelection only. No relatives up to 2nd degree of consanguinity will be allowed to run in the next eight years.

Another issue against Federalism is on revenue. It is a fact that many poor LGU’s are IRA dependent. Where would they get their revenue to finance the needs of the government? ARMM for example have few industry to speak of, the people are poor, their are no big taxpayers, corporate or private. So where will they get the financing?

These are birth pains that needs not be ignored. Of course there are donor agencies. The richer regions can also help. Ex. For the next ten or fifteen years, 10% of the richer regions revenues will be earmarked for the poorer region. This approach will give the disadvantage regions a sort of a starting capital.

There are many ways to solve the initial problems. But what other alternative do we have?  With the recent Brexit decision we have seen, some people advises the proponents not to rush. So under the present set up, what alternative do we have? If too much centralization of power is the root of all corruption, then devolution of power could be the answer. The national government can retain responsibilities of national concerns. Ex: Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Education, etc.  Taxation should be devolved to the local governments, and they will remit the equitable portion to the national government. The percentage will be determined proportionately to the amount necessary to run the affairs of the national government. This way the power of the purse now shifts to the Region.

This way we will retain the unitary system with less power concentrated within the center.The regions will also be given ample time and opportunity to prepare for the eventual shift to a Federal system.

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Kidapawan 2030

This political season I am intrigued what promises our candidates would give to voters. I can’t help to feel so low with many of these self proclaimed messiah who do not even have an inkling of what to do if ever they are voted to office. Noynoy Aquino is one of those candidate, and I can already feel the chilling effect if ever he is voted in. It will again be a waste of time, most likely another six year set back.

To free my thoughts about the looming national leadership crisis, I tend to focus on local political concerns, which unfortunately, is similarly lacking in vision, management skills,  and fortitude to fight the strong pull financial greed. But what if the local leader ask me about my vision for my town in 20 year time?

Last night, I brought out this scenario with my wife after dinner. We talked about this vision and developmental thing, which prove to be a hard nut to crack.

Kidapawan City is a resource rich commune in Mindanao. With the lowest poverty incidence, and with its high income, it is supposedly in a very good position to rapidly grow economically. But it failed to do so. Why?

There is already a economically thriving agro based industry, and a population of around 600,ooo people living in and around the city (including people from surrounding municipalities), there is just enough reason for me to imagine a city….

Imagine; and urban city at the heart of Mindanao, a center of commerce and trade, cultural and educational exchanges; where people of around 1 million (by 2030) interacts for their everyday pursuits.

Imagine Kidapawan, with several malls, and recreation centers; a place with high quality hospitals, educational institutions that could compete with the best in the country, where people enjoy the benefit of an enviromentally stable abode.

Is it coming, or it will just be a dream.

Expectations for Kidapawan this 2010

The economic activity this christmas season is a proff that indeed Kidapawan is one place where people are not suffering from poverty. (Kidapawan was reported to be the number one in terms of less poor or poverty stricken residents.) The potential is enormous.

Politically though, Kidapawan seem to be unfortunate to have a very shallow pool of political leaders. The incumbent Mayor, Rodolfo Gantuanco, inspite of tsimis of corruption and ill administration, do not have a formidable opponent. And there are between nil to none, to look up to for future leaders. Few sons and daughters of the city are doing well in their choosen field of endeavors, but in local politics, they are not making any real political progress.

I can remember a few with potential to be leaders of this belleguered city. Angelo Palmones, who is doing good in his present job as manager of a big media organization, is a potential leader. Ric Ochia, who is now with the LTO, who onced served as under secretary in the GMA adminstration is also a potential political leader. Estong Gana who lost in his last bid for a congressional election is also a good potential leader.

These kind of leaders are needed to unleashed the gigantic economic potential of this city.

Let us help bring out these new leaders.

Palmones for Mayor of Kidapawan

No! the name is not Angelo but Francis. The judge, yes, is running for mayor of Kidapawan City.

Why would a judge offer himself for that post? Obviously it is not the salary that goes with the position. There must be some more profound reason for it.  And if we are to follow what he said during the brief  press conference where he explained the reason for  his intent to run, he said; 

his political “battle cry” is “to effect change in governance.”

“To achieve good governance is to get rid of graft and corruption in the government.” It means something in him is moved by the affluence acquired by the present mayor, or the progress that Kidapawan could have achieved if the enormous resources of the city is properly utilized. He said; “As native son of Kidapawan City, the place which has nurtured my youthful dreams for myself and for my parents, I can not forever remain passive to the urgent call for the much-needed reform and clamor for good governance.”

The statement is loaded. Although it did not directly mentioned graft and corruption being rampant under the mayorship of Rodolfo Gantuanco, the suggestion is quiet apparent.

after sometime

Last February there was a chess tournament held in Kidapawan city. I was minggling around the tournament area when I met some one who I played chess with 20 years ago. after the tournament, they visited me in my house, and we played chess. The result was a shocker. Dementia is getting the better of me. I can no longer see the lines, the patterns are no longer there. In short, I lost and lost and lost.

I played again to fight demential (if I am not fighting alzeimers). If I am in my youth I would say, I’ll play chess to develop higher thinking skills.

That is the reason why I failed to write anything, or continue on my outline. But I promise again, to go on with my promise.

Go promote Kidapawan.

25 Year Development Plan

Yes Kidapawan has a Land Use Plan, but for it to easily navigate the road towards progress, it needs a Development Plan which covers a longer time span. It needs a plan no shorter than 25 year. We all know of the Malaysia 2020, or the 20 year development plan of General Santos City. Knowing where Malaysia or GenSan are today would prove the importance of a plan.

It is very ironic that many local legislators and executives failed to see the importance of a plan. Most think that they already know what should be done. Unfortunately most of these politicians who were task to manage the affairs of the city (and this is also true to other LGU’s), lack the necessary management skills and the expertise to effectively steer the city to a world class progress. But ask any fair minded, world class management consultant and he/she will tell you that the first thing to do for any management or administrative endeavor is to write down the goals. Some may call it the OVER ACHING GOAL,  for some it may be THE DREAM, but the meaning is the same.

To prove my point that the local leadership (past and present) failed to see the importance of this , why would the Mayor Gantuanco insist on Cabiles to be his adminstrative officer? What expertise does he bring to the table. He was once a news reporter of a local radio station, and no other management expertise, is that enough to bridge the management requirement that the task importantly requires?

If the mayor has the blue print on how to manage the affairs of the city, he will readily see that to bridge the management gap, since he himself lacks the necessary management expertise, he would opt to hire a management expert as his administrator.

A 25 year development plan will also ensure the delivery of necessary projects even when new leaders get hold of the local government. At present, new leaders will have to envision for themselves the projects and programs they think will help their constituents and will help them win another term. So the result are a mixture of bits of programs or projects that might be good if some will jive with each other. Most of these program are, however, not in conjunction with the other programs, so it is farfetch to think of a bigger impact to the community.

There are other positive contribution that a 25 YEAR DEVELOPMENT PLAN will contribute, not only will it concretize the vision, it will also help invite investors and donors to the community. It will also envigorate the local people towards a specific objective, and will give them more energy to strive harder.

Road Network

Linking Kidapawan with other municipalities such as Makilala, Magpet, Roxas, Matalam, Mlang will unravel a very big market. Every investor will always be looking for that ingredient before pouring in money into the area. Of course there are other consideration such as peace and order, power supply, manpower supply, etcetera,  but the most important aspect of any business enterprise is the costumer, and linking the five municipalities with Kidapawan to create the Metro Kidapawan corridor would open access to around 600,000 people. That is as big as Cagayan de Oro or General Santos.

Second reason why there is a need for a new and better road network is the continous growth of the  vehicle population in the city. As many Kipapawenyos bewail, the lone major road-Quezon boulevard- carries all the burden of servicing the major vehicular traffic, and in four to five years the traffic congestion along that route will be unbearable. The leaders of the city should not wait for that clogged moment before acting on it. Good leaders are always  proactive in there approach rather than reactive.

Third reason is the development  that a sound road network will draw out of its business environment. It is noticeable how business establishment sprouts along major roads. The reason is obvious. In Kidapawan, almost all major establishments are located along the Quezon boulevard because there are no other roads where traffic flows. If the road going to barangay Magsaysay becomes a main alternative route, there will be no doubt that businesses will be established along that strip.

This is something that should be done this early because it is not yet a big problem. This is a must if Kidapawan is to become one major city in this part of the country. Every major cities that were develop during the modern time have alternative routes. Major cities have elliptical roads, and not only one but several elliptical roads.

Connecting roads will unlock the vast economic potential of the place, it will also arrest the potential congestion problem.