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POSITIVE SURPRISES IN 2014 SONA??? (Last of Two Parts)


 

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In our previous installment, we focused on the forthcoming 2014 SONA by President B.S. Aquino III – his penultimate appearance at the Joint Session of Congress before his term ends on 30 June 2016. We also highlighted the Republic of Korea and the Federal Republic of Germany as the contemporary examples of nations that rose from the depths of war’s total devastation to become the best models of democratic modernization and people empowerment because of their people’s patriotism, discipline and spirit of sacrifice.

In their 21st century reincarnations, South Korea had become a G-20 (developed) nation and home of superstars U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, while Germany gained leadership of the European Union as economic funder and political trend-setter.

Strategic Tasks of Government

The government that Filipinos need is one that knows its priorities – and which is both tough enough and smart enough – to achieve them.  We see government's urgent, continuing priorities as follows:

First – government should strive, earnestly and decisively, to help the Filipino poor help themselves – because poverty is the mother of our problems. Direct action against mass poverty should concentrate on poor people's most urgent personal needs:  avoiding illnesses, eating enough food every day, having decent homes, completing basic education, and accessing equal opportunities to climb upward.

Second – government's basic role is to provide the framework within which people's enterprises can flourish.  That framework has at least four components:

(a)Political stability and civil order, without which no enterprise can prosper sustainably;

(b)The rule of law that assures a level playing field of competition and validity of business contracts;

(c)A sound macro-economic policy environment which guarantees predictable planning factors, a stable currency, and reasonable prices for basic needs; and

(d)The physical infrastructure for people's mobility which private industry cannot itself provide.  This includes not only telecommunications, roads/bridges, uninterrupted power supply, seaports/airports, water systems, etc. but also investments in healthcare, education, skills training, cultural assets, technology transfer, and the like.

The discretionary power of the administrative bureaucracy we must reduce by greater transparency in policy-making – and by institutionalized monitoring and control thru citizen participation.

Our basic economic principle should be to reduce government's power to decide winners and losers in business, by curtailing its authority to award or withhold incentives, subsidies, and concessions. "Free enterprise" should not mean enterprise free of public accountability.  

The LEDAC – Valuable Tool For Inclusiveness

There is one valuable tool that worked wonders in 1992-1998, but which has been shoved into "inutility" during the Aquino I, Estrada, Arroyo, and Aquino III eras – perhaps because of the proliferation of their Palace factions and advisers, and their abhorrence of UnSolicited Advice. 

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) established by RA 7640 (December 1992) was the first act passed by the 9th Congress and signed by FVR into law.  The 8th Congress' original LEDAC enactment was among 15 legislative acts vetoed by President Corazon Aquino.  Within FVR's first 100 days, however, the LEDAC bill was revived because he recognized its inherent merit for binding the nation, promoting peace, and propelling our economy forward --- thanks to its basic quality of inclusiveness. 

Thereafter, FVR convened LEDAC every Wednesday at Malacañang for consultation and advice while Congress was in session – or an average of 35 times every year for 5½ years.

RA 7640 provides:  "Section 1.  Declaration of Policy - It is the policy of the State to formulate….  socio-economic development programs taking into account conservation and ecology; more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth; increase of goods and services…. and expanded productivity to raise the quality of life for all….

"The State shall promote industrialization based on sound agricultural development and agrarian reform, through industries that make full and efficient use of human and natural resources….

"Section 2.  Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council - There is hereby constituted a consultative and advisory body to be known as the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council…. composed of twenty members, with the President as Chairman. to include the following: …. a representative of the LGUs, the youth, business cooperatives, agriculture, and labor…." 

LEDAC should therefore be seen by the President, Senate and House of Representatives as a powerful integrative weapon in their hands to resolve our people’s urgent problems, and to enhance Philippine competitiveness.

Mandated to provide grass-roots advice in the formulation of policies essential to our national goals, the LEDAC system seeks to ensure consistency and continuity in coordinating Executive development planning (for the short-term and strategic longer-term), and fine-tune Congressional budgeting and programming.

In previous columns FVR had highlighted that the LEDAC system was precisely crafted to hurdle the natural jealousy between the Executive and Legislative branches regarding imagined encroachments on each other’s “turf.”

Saving Precious Time/Effort/Goodwill In Policy Formulation

Former Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Romulo Lumauig (at his  term-end presentation before the U.P. Community – representing the “public” – in June 1998), summarized:  “The multidimensional consultations in LEDAC laid the basis for a strategic alliance amongst the basic sectors, civil society, the Administration, and Congress in the common pursuit of policy reforms.

“In these consultations, basic sectors are afforded a forum to ventilate their positions on policy issues...The record harvest of landmark reform legislation in the 9th and 10th Congresses proved that LEDAC has been very effective.”

Twenty-five years ago, on 20 February 1989, Malacañang reporter Fel Maragay wrote in the Manila Standard, thus:

“President Cory justified her disapproval of the LEDAC bill on the ground that 'it diffuses and confuses the spheres of responsibilities of the Executive and Legislative branches.'”

Further reported Maragay:  “A close Malacañang ally, Senator Neptali Gonzales (former Cory’s Justice Minister and Senate President in 1992) observed that President Aquino and her advisers did not seem to have a clear grasp of the dynamics of the separation of powers, and the principle of checks and balances under a Presidential system which is not rigid and absolute, but intended for practical purposes and adopted to common sense.”

Compared to all other national councils, LEDAC – because the leaders of sectoral NGOs were regularly consulted – had become the truly pro-active, constructive, representative and unifying mechanism that it was intended to be. 

Its predictable and effective utilization in governance remains a potent, democratic weapon at the command of the Chief Executive to confront grave national problems in our fast-changing world.

Don’t Malacañang, the Senate and House want to improve their ratings in terms of reform/structural bills successfully enacted through our democratic process of consultation, debate and consensus – or are they quite satisfied with vetoes, rejections, recriminations and failures??

Social Pact Among Farmers, OFWs,

Women, Youth,  Lumads, Veterans, Etc.

Challenged by socio-economic difficulties upon assuming the Presidency in 1992, particularly daily brownouts and near-zero economic growth, FVR early on offered his hand in partnership and solidarity to as many leaders of the different political aggrupations and social sectors that he could reach.

In early 1993, FVR brought the basic social sectors into the mainstream of policy-formulation by holding a series of national summits, beginning with the "Social Pact for Empowered Economic Development" (SPEED), to forge unity between the grassroots and the national leadership.  Farmers, workers, women, the youth, indigenous groups, veterans, etc. were afforded an official forum wherein to ventilate their concerns on policy issues, and to participate in forging consensus. 

These multidimensional consultations during weekly LEDAC meetings laid the basis for strategic alliances among the basic sectors, civil society, the Executive and Legislative in their common pursuit of needed reforms. 

From the sectoral discourses in LEDAC, to crafting a legislative proposal, and to the actual implementation of a law, political scientists have consistently maintained that participatory actions are required from the nation’s stakeholders – the Filipino people. 

INDEED, NATIONS ARE NOT BUILT – NOR SHOULD BE REBUILT – WITH EVERY CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT.  NO, NO – BETTER YET, SUCCEEDING LEADERS/ADMINISTRATIONS MUST CONTINUE ADDING VALUE AND STRENGTHENING THE FOUNDATIONS ALREADY LAID BY THEIR PREDECESSORS.  

The RoK And German Models

Filipinos, like Koreans, would want the people to be placed in the center of development as encapsulated in the expression “Ang tao una sa lahat(The people ahead of all else).”  The expression “saram naemse(the smell of the people)” is used by Koreans to express the feeling of being surrounded by humanity.  “This sense of being together as one with a crowd, even in the absence of a relationship between each individual, is an important part of Korean culture.”  (Koreaofficial magazine, July 2014, Vol. 10, p. 6).

In a wreath-laying ceremony last year at the PEFTOK Memorial Monument at Goyang City near the Demilitarized Zone, veteran Defense Press Corps reporter Nikko Dizon wrote:  “FVR cited the Republic of Korea as an inspiring model of development and modernization made possible by the collective sacrifice, patriotism and love of peace, development, competitiveness and harmony of its people.”  (Philippine Daily Inquirer,04 August 2013).

That South Korea has progressed so tremendously since that terrible war in the 1950s is an achievement of which her patriotic people are supremely proud.  Filipino veterans of the Korean War feel similarly gratified to see that our contributions as freedom-fighters and defenders of democracy on the Korean Peninsula have left positive footprints on RoK’s roadmap – from devastation to democratic modernization within two generations.

TO MAKE THESE GOALS TRULY HAPPEN, HOWEVER, WE MUST RAISE OUR COLLECTIVE VOICES, USE WISELY OUR COLLECTIVE VOTES, AND EFFECTIVELY INTEGRATE OUR COLLECTIVE EFFORTS.

Already, too much time, energy, and goodwill have already gone wasted down the drain because of the vindictiveness, greed, and clannishness which are the attributes of our “trapos” (self-serving traditional politicians).  Most of these parasites – who belong to dynasties, oligarchies, elites and monopolies – have long been feeding on the blood, sweat and tears of the common tao.

THE GERMAN PEOPLE'S CONSENSUS IS TO MOVE ON AND TO INTENSIFY GERMANY'S MOMENTUM TOWARDS A STRONG REPUBLIC IN UNITY WITH ITS NATIONAL INTERESTS.  All this was done in a civil, peaceful and constitutional way without disrupting German national cohesion which was hard-won in the aftermath of World War II, and the historic unification of West and East Germany on 3 October 1990, just twenty-four years ago.

FOR SOUTH KOREA AND GERMANY THE OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE THAT HAS WORKED FOR THEM IS UNITY OF PURPOSE, SOLIDARITY IN VALUES, AND TEAMWORK IN NATION-BUILDING.

AIMING HIGHER

STRIVING EVER UPWARD TO THE NEXT HIGHER LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE SHOULD BE THE COLLECTIVE ASPIRATION OF FILIPINOS IN ORDER TO ATTAIN A BETTER FUTURE.

SANA,FOR PHILIPPINE LEADERS, FOLLOW EXEMPLARS ANGELA MERKEL (GERMAN GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY) AND PARK GEUN HYE (RoK SPIRIT OF SELF-SACRIFICE AND PATRIOTISM).

KAYA NATIN ITO!!!

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org.  Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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