Archive for August, 2008

Federalism, a flawed prescription

August 31, 2008

Failed governance gave birth to the MILF. Vested interests, cunning and deceit produced the MOA-AD with MILF. The MOA-AD resulted in the present bloody and costly Mindanao conflict.

RA 8371 entitled “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997” recognized the AD problem and prescribed measures to address it, but because of dismal implementation by both ERAP and Gloria, tribal groups continued to be the embodiment of government neglect or apathy. Certain Moros took advantage of their discontent and unrest and organized the MILF whose main mission is to take back their ancestral domain. AD is not just about lands. It is also about heritage and a government that existed even before Spain ceded the Philippines to the Americans. This government and their territories were not part of that deal. That the GRP acknowledges this bit of history is evident in the MOA-AD draft that both parties were supposed to “formally” sign at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The agreement was simply about giving back to the Moros what was rightfully theirs. PGMA hailed the accord at her recent SONA.

Unfortunately, the terms and conditions in the paper clashed with reality. The lands referred to are no longer the wilderness that it used to be. The government referred to by the MILF no longer exists. A large majority of its present occupants do not belong to the Moro tribe. And their allegiance is to the Republic of the Philippines, not to an armed band that claims to speak for a government that has long been consigned to the archives of history. To begin with, it was a mistake for the GRP to hold dialogs with the MILF. What for? The MILF demands were clear and unyielding from the start. And the GRP definitely has no power to yield to such demands. The MILF used the negotiating table to reconsolidate its strength, after President ERAP broke it in his time. The government used it to maintain a semblance of peace, or a commitment to it. All’s well that appeared well! Until…

PGMA appointed a military man to head the GRP peace panel, and suddenly the stalemate was broken. An accord was finally reached. Alas though it apparently was not a product of give and take, but of total surrender. Hearings by the Supreme Court showed that the MOA-AD is indefensible. The Solicitor General defends by saying that the government will no longer sign the MOA-AD in any form while insisting in going on with the dialog with the MILF! It was exposed as plain stupidity or recklessness, but some saw through it all a crude attempt to bring about a cha-cha that would make way for Gloria’s extended stay in the palace. It is not too far fetched to imagine that the GRP panel foresaw what would happen after the public learned of the contents of the MOA.

Again, failed governance gave rise to a determined group who offer federalism as a permanent solution to the conflict. It is its way of saying that Local Autonomy failed. It did not bother to see why it failed, and what could possibly be done to make it work.  It simply issued an invitation to an expensive and dangerous exercise in futility.  There is no way voters would approve of more Senators, Congressmen and bureaucracies. Federalism promises to solve the AD problem by complicating it! The system would integrate two or more indigenous people in a State, and then start thinking of ways to attend to it. It would abandon a simple and doable procedure in favor of a solution that has yet to be studied and legitimized!

The short term remedy would be to run after the criminals and maintain peace and order. The long-term process is to go to individual tribes and attend to their problems guided by RA 8371. An act of genuine concern for the welfare of the less privileged will never be too late particularly since it would also benefits similarly deprived settlers in adjoining communities. Also, divide and rule. He! He!

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August 29, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pogi and Ganda Points and Federalism

Villar bats for P1-B fund to bring home OFWs in distress.

Why only now? We just hope that this is not just for 2010 pogi points. We also hope that this fund does not go in the way of the fertilizer scam.

President Arroyo earlier ordered Napocor to cut by half its charges to Meralco, apparently to pressure the latter into lowering electricity rates.

Pressure indeed! She is only buying time for herself at the people’s expense, again. What does her ally, Senator Joker Arroyo, say of this brazen attempt to gain ganda points? “This was done in 2003 and was corrected in 2005 because the public in the end had to shoulder the cost.”

This of course assumes that the Meralco will give in to the “pressure”. If it doesn’t, it would be Meralco’s gain, and our loss. Why doesn’t she directly help the poor by suspending the EVAT of small time power users?

How else does she buy time? ATM’s, Philhealth cards; pittance for the poor at Abra and P500,000 for the rich including Jun Lozada; billions in NFA subsidy for foreign farmers; and another P5 billion for the poorest of the poor, presumably, those who were hit hardest by her corruption and “economic gains”.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson seeks probe into a South Korean investor’s alleged P400 million bribe.

The public cannot stand another Senate inquiry. Why embark on another inquiry when nothing came out of the much dramatized CTE-NBN investigation?

Federalism, for the Philippines…

Senator Nene Pimentel must be kidding. Yes, that’s precisely what I mean – giving birth to a goat. Here’s a quote from a former US congressman, Newt Gingrich, on why his country is in near recession, “Big bureaucracies were created at the federal, state, and local levels; and they have been decaying in efficiency and effectiveness ever since.”

He might as well be speaking of the Philippines. Look at how national and local offices and legislative bodies practically drain our coffers. And we aren’t even into federalism yet!

August 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Francisco Balagtas’ Relevance

West Point classmate on Lim: He’s no rebel, just an idealist

Sa loob at labas ng bayan kong sawi

Kaliluha’y siyang nangyayaring hari

Kagalinga’t bait kimi’t nalulugmi

Ininis sa hukay ng dusa’t pighati.

McCain calls Obama insensitive to poor people

Not PGMA. They keep multiplying under her.

A Manila Times Editorial asks: WHAT if instead of lining up for rice and pushing against the crowd for one’s rations a person boycotts the grain? Or if a consumers group decides to call for a boycott? Or everybody?

Why not? Farmers would likely support the move, by not planting rice! Planting rice is never fun anyway. It is a losing enterprise. The more he plants, the more he gets into indebtedness. Try planting with capital borrowed from usurers. Try planting on land you do not own. Try selling to NFA that would rather buy from foreign sources.

Subsidies intended for farmers go to corrupt officials. Ask Jocjoc Bolante. Ask Quedancor. Rather than buy from local farmers, NFA would rather import rice and sell it to favored traders who make a killing by selling it as commercial rice. For years this has been the practice. Only the rice crisis exposed this anomaly.

Planting is an act of patriotism or plain stupidity. It raises the GNP, but not the farmers’ income. Let PGMA import rice at twice the cost it is willing to pay local farmers. Let’s plant and eat camote.

Decentralize Now!

August 25, 2008

Ninoy Aquino begat hope and courage. Hope and courage begat EDSA 1. EDSA 1 begat Cory, FVR, ERAP and EDSA 2. EDSA 2 begat Gloria. Gloria begat unprecedented corruption and poverty, then a MOA that led to war: Filipinos against Filipinos. The combination of these events begat the loss of Ninoy’s legacy.

The absence of his legacy begat poverty in mind and spirit as well. We dare not move against Gloria because of fear, not for life and limb, but for the uncertain scenario of an early PGMA exit. Even 2010 is viewed with much skepticism. Embedded in our hearts are the lessons of experience: no change in leadership ever brought any relief.

Senator Nene Pimentel correctly diagnosed the problem: too much wealth and power in the Presidency or Imperial Manila. Unfortunately the prescription he gave is seriously flawed. Federalism won’t solve the problem. It will only aggravate it. He is just complicating a simple solution: decentralization through legislation. This is allowed by the present Constitution.

Clip the powers of the presidency; distribute it to the local government units. This is the good Senator’s forte. He must have overlooked it in his haste to post another date in history: from the father of local autonomy to the champion of federalism! Unfortunately, it promises to be his undoing. Cha-cha is dead for now. And even if it reaches a plebiscite, a provision adding more people to the unpopular bodies would spell its doom. People would rather vote for the abolition of one of the two Chambers, or both!

Fortunately, it is not too late for Mr. Local Autonomy to be true to his calling. Instead of gunning for federalism he may rally the local government officials to persuade Congress to approve a legislation that incorporates his 20/80 formula in an invigorated Local Government Code. Who knows that, under intense pressure, its members might even come to their senses, get real and go for impeachment instead?

New fertilizer performs well

August 24, 2008
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By Zac B. Sarian

A recently introduced biofertilizer produced by Japanese and Taiwanese scientists is performing very well under local experiments.

This is the X-Tekh Liquid Bio-Fertilizer which is good for practically all crops, and is distributed by AA Bio-Tech Enterprises. In trials in six different sugarcane plantations in Negros Occidental, the yield of cane plants significantly increased. In the farm of Arturo Ledesma, for instance, the tons canes per hectare was 99.51 compared to 81.66 tons for the plants fertilized with the regular chemical fertilizer.

In the field treated with X-Tekh, the amount of regular chemical fertilizer was reduced by 30 percent and replaced by X-Tekh. Combining X-Tekh with organic fertilizer and with just a supplemental amount of chemical fertilizer was observed to be best. Based on the performance in six plantations, the best combination is two tons organic fertilizer, 5 liters of X-Tekh (applied two times), 4 bags of urea and 3 bags of 0-0-60 (muriate of potash).

Alex Acidera, director of AA BioTech Enterprises, explains that X-Tekh contains many kinds of beneficial microorganisms. When the liquid fertilizer is applied in the soil, the microorganisms cluster around the root systems and symbiotically help introduce the macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) as well as the micronutrients through nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization, and some other processes. At the same time, there are other important microorganisms that protect the plants from parasitic fungi, bacteria, nematodes and other soilborne diseases.

It is further explained that X-Tekh contains phosphate solubilizing bacteria which can solubilize the insoluble phosphates, making them available for plant use. How? These microorganisms (Pseudomonas, bacillus, aspergillus and green pennicillium) produce organic acids, i.e., lactic, gluconic, fumeric, succinic and acitic acids which solubilize the insoluble phosphates.

The same organisms are known to produce amino acids, vitamins and growth promoting substances like Indole Acetic Acid (IAA) and Gibberellic Acid (GA) which contribute to healthy plant growth.

August 20, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Philippines failed to buy 675,000 metric tons of rice – News

In panic for the loss of rice in local stalls and, consequently perhaps, her hold on the country, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the President of a rice producing country, is virtually forcing other countries to sell her rice by offering outrageous prices. Now, she placed the Philippines on the map not only as the biggest importer of rice but also as the country that raised the price of rice worldwide. Anyway, it’s not her money.

She, a PhD in economics is simply beyond comprehension. Stalls sell rice at P40/kilo or less. NFA begs to pay more than P50/kilo for imported rice. This is the equivalent of P25/kilo of palay. It is willing to buy locally palay at only P17/kilo. Rice traders pay much more. She threatens to sue rice hoarders, but didn’t file charges against bodegas where sacks of NFA rice were found illegally stored.

In her campaigns she promised more food on our tables. Now she is desperately trying to put some rice back on our tables by importing the staple commodity, instead of helping local farmers produce enough of it.

Senate Inquiry failed to connect PGMA to the CTE-NBN anomaly – Bunye.

He may be right. It may not be necessary though.

The President’s men already implicated her by sending Jun Lozada abroad to avoid a Senate inquiry, by kidnapping him allegedly for his safety, and by carrying out an intensive but bungled cover-up operations that included a gift of P50,000 from a jobless man; Executive Undersecretary Manny Gaite, by gifting a nonentity a hefty sum of P500 thousand just to lessen his discomfort in a land where most of us can visit only in our dreams; Chairman Ben Abalos, by being omnipresent in CTE affairs even at the height of the 2007 elections; and Neri, by running to the Supreme Court instead of answering simple questions.

Even PGMA incriminated herself by firing Jun Lozada for being too talkative and not pliant enough and by giving him something to chew about at CHED, presumably, so he can’t talk; by not canceling the contract immediately; and by admitting that she knew that the contract was flawed even before she signed it. This list should include the nine associate justices of the Supreme Court by… well, just by being lucky. Jun Lozada is not in the list. His feather differs.

Now that the truth is out, the question that confronts us all, the Senate and the CDCP in particular, is what now? Ok, so the CTE-NBN anomaly is just the tip of the iceberg because of the Jocjoc Bolante Fertilizer scam, the P5 billion swine scam, the NFA imported rice found in bodegas of rice traders, the South Railway project, etc. The question is still, so what? What can we do about it? What are we doing about it? Incessant bootless Gloria bashing and investigations may only shift the rage.

Decentralization thru legislation, not cha-cha

August 20, 2008
Sen. Pimentel dangles a 20/80 formula to gain adherents from the LGU’s, in particular, to his bid for federalism. Why does he promise a pie by and by when we can have it NOW? If he is really sincere about decentralization, why doesn’t he bat for it NOW. The present Constitution allows it. Why go through a circuitous and uncertain route called cha-cha? I think it’s all just a problem of legislation. He probably knows that such a proposal would never reach first base in Congress. But what makes him think that both Houses would have a change of heart if constituted as a con-ass? There, he would need as much support as he can from the LGU’s without which his proposal would fail. As is true NOW. So, why wait for a con-ass? Why not rally that support NOW? The urgency of the situation calls for it.

Ancestral domain is tribal, not religious

August 18, 2008

Negotiating with the MILF was a big mistake. Resuming talks with it would be aggravating it. If MILF does not get what it wants, there will be trouble. The bloodshed that followed the SC order suspending the signing of the MOA-AD is an example. If it gets its demand, there will be an even greater trouble. Would the residents of the ceded area allow themselves to be governed by MILF? Imagine the power struggle that would most likely ensue! Lesson: let not any bandit group browbeat us into submission.

 

What is the solution? Vigorous implemention of Republic Act No. 8371, also known as “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997,” the State recognizes and promotes certain rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) within the framework of the Constitution. If Tausogs, Manobos, T’bolis, Dumagats, Mangyans, agtas, and other ethnic groups are given lands of their own, would they still join any armed group demanding rights to ancestral lands? The issue is economic, not religious. Let it be that way.

Decentralization: legislation or cha-cha?

August 17, 2008

Sen. Pimentel dangles a 20/80 formula to gain adherents from the LGU’s, in particular, to his bid for federalism. Why does he promise a pie by and by when we can have it NOW? If he is really sincere about decentralization, why doesn’t he bat for it NOW. The present Constitution allows it. Why go through a circuitous and uncertain route called cha-cha?

I think it’s all just a problem of legislation. He probably knows that such a proposal would never reach first base in Congress. But what makes him think that both Houses would have a change of heart if constituted as a con-ass?  There, he would need as much support as he can from the LGU’s without which his proposal would fail. As is true NOW. So, why wait for a con-ass? Why not rally that support NOW? The urgency of the situation calls for it.

Ancestral domain: tribal, not religious

August 17, 2008

Negotiating with the MILF was a big mistake. Resuming talks with it would a graver one. If MILF does not get what it wants, there will be trouble. The bloodshed that followed the SC order suspending the signing of the MOA-AD is an example. If it gets its demand, there will be an even greater trouble. Would the residents of the ceded area allow themselves to be governed by MILF? Imagine the power struggle that would most likely ensue! Lesson: let not any bandit group browbeat us into submission.

 

What is the solution? Vigorous implemention of Republic Act No. 8371, also known as “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997,” the State recognizes and promotes certain rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) within the framework of the Constitution. If Tausogs, Manobos, T’bolis, Dumagats, Mangyans, agtas, and other ethnic groups are given title to the lands that are rightfully theirs, would they still join any armed group demanding rights to ancestral domains? Land ownership is tribal, not religious. Let it be that way.