Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6 January 2018


Viewed from the perspective of the average citizen, however, the recent progress made in the economy and governance offers no immediate relief from the grind of daily living.

There is a prevailing sense among significant sections of the population—the farming communities that must deal with drought and typhoons, the rural folk who have no access to health and other social services, the urban poor who have to put up with the congestion and the neighborhood bullies, the minimum wage earners and middle-level professionals who must spend time in traffic travelling to and from work, the fresh college graduates as well as the credit-constrained small entrepreneurs whose time and energies are exhausted going through the bureaucratic maze to obtain clearances, the aggrieved ordinary citizen with no access to the authorities to obtain redress for substandard service—that either too little is being done or they have been completely bypassed by government.

This situation, where citizens feel increasingly alienated from their government, cannot be allowed to persist. Otherwise, the door is opened for opportunists promising quick fixes that could only lead to far worse outcomes. (Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Chapter 4, Overall Framework, page 47. Emphasis mine.)

Read that carefully, Reader. Does that not accurately represent what is happening now?  Of course it does.   That’s what the Plan is supposed to address. Now please focus on the last sentence.

Reader, I submit to you that the opportunists have come, in the form of our leaders (such as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez), appealing to our sense of patriotism (the nerve!) to support this move toward a federal AND parliamentary form of government, to solve our problems. Not only that. They will rush it—shove it down our throats—because the documents must be ready by March, to be included in the May 14 plebiscite (to coincide with the barangay elections, to “save” money).

Why do I say that Alvarez et al. are opportunists, offering quick fixes? Because, Reader, federalism, the parliamentary system, and Charter change were never a part of the long-term or medium-term plans of President Duterte, his campaign promises notwithstanding.

What is the evidence that supports this statement? “On October 11, 2016, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order No. 5, s. 2016 approving and adopting the 25-year long-term vision entitled AmBisyon Natin 2040 as a guide for development planning. According to EO 5, the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 (PDP 2017- 2022) and the succeeding PDPs until 2040 shall be anchored on AmBisyon Natin 2040. In its preamble, EO 5 recognizes the need for a ‘bold vision and effective development planning’ based on a ‘forward-looking approach that goes beyond a single administration.’ It also emphasized the centrality of people in development planning and their aspirations as requisite for the design of government interventions to achieve development outcomes.” (Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Ch. 1 “The Long View,” p. 7.)

Yet, Reader, as mentioned earlier, neither AmBisyon 2040 nor the Philippine Development Plan has one word about federalism, a parliamentary system, or Charter change.

What does all this have to do with opportunism? Well, didn’t the Speaker dangle before the Congress the possibility of no elections in 2019? In which case, the sitting congressmen will sit, if the PDP-Laban view is approved, until at least 2030, because the transitory period must be at least that long to accomplish all the preparations for change. I will discuss this at a later date.

From what I read, all sitting elected local officials will not be left out either, because they will also have the benefits of No-El (no elections) for that period of time. In fact, even with the 2019 local elections, all elected officials will still have extended terms. That’s the “far worse outcomes.”

In other words, we are promised a quick fix. But the quick fix isn’t so quick, after all. And it is the trapos, happy new year to them, that will gain from the fix. We, the people, get the pain.

Can we fight this disgusting scenario?  Yes. Abangan.