MANILA (MindaNews / 17 Feb) — Candidate DU30’s federalism refrain wedded to his crude and brutal street lingo and earthy demeanor resonated among the voters tired of the “same old, same old.” Except for the imprecise but romantic idea of “freeing the periphery from imperial Manila,” nothing much has filtered down to those who could benefit from it the most—the long-suffering Filipino almost half of whom wallow in poverty.
Federalism burst into social media propelled by bloggers, academics, pseudo-experts and plain enthusiasts attempting to fill the gaps between the slogan, its definitions and the pragmatic approaches. And the confusion and cacophony persisted as mainstream media, long perceived to be the bastion of the oligarchy and the entrenched elite, were not that keen, even outrightly antithetical, to a change in the status quo that federalism would provoke.
The idea of the regions or states having a greater say in running their lives and developing their areas is appealing and easily grasped, notably by those outside of the center. That the “powers and powerful” in Manila may no longer decide for “the powerless” is attractive to those who live in the margins.
“For much of its history, the Philippines has functioned under a unitary, presidential system of government. But it has failed to meet expectations for a government that could provide the effective and equitable delivery of public goods and services, maintain the rule of law, control corruption, and protect democratic and human rights, including the people’s right to take part in policymaking and to hold public officials accountable for their actions.” (Edilberto C. de Jesus, Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 6, 2018)
For the poor, the downtrodden and powerless who are purportedly the beneficiaries of these changes, they have eloquently framed the question: What’s in it for me?
Deliberations on the impact of federalism on the economy has not been as wide-ranging as discussions on the political constructs. These concerns have yet to be disseminated to the wider public reaching those that the internet has not ensnared. The traditional “pulong-pulong” and public fora are still a must but the content must be reformatted with a language that must include economic issues intimate to the lives of the target audience; health, employment, education and dwelling, or HEED, the CDP social market economy mantra.
Private groups, civic organizations, political parties and even the religious sectors are now staking their positions on this debate; not necessarily for federalism and its concomitant changes, but also in opposition to them. This is in fact what is needed, a clash of ideas – the better to refine issues and produce what could be good and acceptable to the greater majority of our people.
The Centrist proposals on the economy are lifted in toto from the Centrist Political Party’s (CDP) platform of government. These were submitted to both houses of Congress as part of their constituent assembly (Con-ass) proceedings. Falling under three major groupings, they form the backbone of the social market economy, the political party’s economic program (refer to the Manila Times series of articles on the economy, October 6,13, 20, 27 and November 3, 2016 or www.cdpi.asia).
(This column first appeared in The Manila Times issue of 15 February 2017, http://www.manilatimes.net/economic-underpinnings-centrist-proposals/380288/ Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, a Dabawenyo based in Manila, served under four Philippine Presidents as a member of the Cabinet and several Commissions. A Harvard Kennedy School of Government-educated political technocrat, he was one of the prime movers of the Citizens Movement for Federal Philippines, Secretary General of the 2005 Consultative Commission, and one of the founders of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines, Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute)