By Boboy Yonzon I Published: July 27, 2020
When these guys tap you with their left jab and say “Charter Change is not a priority,” you know that the vicious right hook is coming.
They are so arrogant and flushed with power that they do not see the need to change their game plan. They do not even put up a poker face when they lie.
And now there is a group of mayors clamoring for termus infinitus.
Chavit Singson has taken over the mantle from fellow Ilocano Rodolfo Fariñas in mobilizing the local government units (LGUs) to change the Constitution.
To which the Palace will predictably deny having a hand in. It is vintage Duterte, wanting for honesty and finesse.
Charter change, proponents argue, is supposed to spur local economic growth by according local governments with more elbowroom in deciding the affairs of their respective territories.
Knowing their areas and constituents better, governors and mayors would be in a better position than the national government in designing policies and implementing projects that are best for all.
Beautifully put and it carries the weight of truth, but will that happen?
An argument for charter change is that it is so unfair for performing locally elected officials to have term limits.
But the riposte to this is: what if you have elected a rotten lemon? Like Estrada in Manila. Has recall elections ever worked?
We still have to hear of local government honchos that have done wonders for their cities or provinces.
Perhaps there was Bayani for Marikina, who decades ahead, demonstrated how it is to clear sidewalks and dismantle illegal structures, instilling discipline for cleanliness and order in the city.
There were Robredo for Naga and, yes, Duterte when he had all elements intact in his head for Davao City.
Humility vs Iron Hand
Two distinct approaches in governance: the first with humility and the other, with iron hand.
On a smaller scale but no less significant are the mayors of Sibuyan Island in Romblon, who work together with the national government to make Mt. Guiting-Guiting, one of the country’s last frontiers, as a protected, natural park.
When we talk of outstanding performance nowadays, we could only point to what Mayor Isko Domagoso and Mayor Vico Sotto are doing to transcend limitations in logistics and deliver what their cities need.
One of the steps they took was to increase the efficiencies of their tax collection, permits, and other city hall revenues.
Their energy and vision have encouraged corporations, civic organizations, and ordinary citizens to contribute cold cash to their city governments.
What local government was able to inspire that kind of participation in the recent past? Nada.
In Evil Hearts
“There is nothing wrong with system, it is in the evil hearts of our politicians,” is a common observation.
Doing man-on-the-street random queries, the overwhelming negative reaction to Cha-cha is in the suspicion that the intent of local officials is only to perpetuate themselves in their positions. And, solidify their dynasties.
When you look at the Cayetano family, for instance, you will have a clear idea of what dynasty means.
It is not a straight-line succession to sustain good service, but an apparent expansion of power.
They have it all, the administrative and legislative wherewithal. But what do they have to show for this?
Access to Funds
You can only shudder at the thought of these dynasties having unlimited terms and a more liberal access to larger funds.
That is another contentious issue, the demand for a bigger share of local governments in national revenues.
You can almost imagine what will happen to those funds: overpriced gyms, municipal buildings, or farm-to-market roads. And then you have the junkets, the beauty contests, or the never-ending trainings and conferences.
The local officials’ decision-making is so skewed that they are liable to build school buildings in disaster-prone areas, or construct a concrete avenue that leads to no barrios but to somebody’s palatial rest house.
Synchronicity of projects with the national government will be problematic particularly when they are so zealous about their fiefdoms.
They may build airports in places where there are no supporting highways, as have already happened in the past.
They will exercise feudal patronage and explore their people’s weaknesses, their hunger and ignorance.
If Not Too Much …
Furthermore, crooks among our elected officials would also want to have control of jueteng and the drug trade.
Like their lord, they may be going after the local media and people’s organizations.
Cha-cha or the segue to federalism will further institutionalize all these evilness.
Hindi ba sobrang abusado na ‘yong ganon?