POSTSCRIPT / October 6, 2005 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Federal system for RP: A giant step backwards

ANGELES CITY — In my POSTSCRIPT of Aug. 21, 2005, titled “When we see officials on bikes, we’ll follow,” I asked in the opening paragraph: “Who is the drummer to whose beat this nation is being asked to march backwards?”

After several paragraphs on how we seem to move backwards deliberately, to retrogress instead of surging forward united, I also said:

“Some great nations spent so much time and spilled so much blood uniting their diverse peoples. In our case, we now seem to want to dismember our already unified Republic into several autonomous states under a federal system.

“Crabs, as in crab mentality, crawl sideways. But we are worse: we move backwards.”

Then the other day, I saw what I think is the best-presented argument against federalism, or the chopping up of the Philippines into five independent states — Luzon, the Visayas, Mindanao, Cordillera, and Bangsa Moro — and then drawing them together in a federal system under an amended Constitution.

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CHOPPED-UP TRAIN: In his column PerryScope, US-based writer Perry Diaz used the locomotive train to illustrate the folly of federalism. He wrote in part:

“One of the best inventions in the 19 th Century is the locomotive train. The train ushered in a new age: Industrialization — Man’s big leap from a horse-drawn wagon to a steam-powered locomotive engine that has the strength to pull passenger or freight trains on a railroad.

“A train consists of a series of connected railway cars that can be more than 100 cars long. Who would you think would appear one day and say: ‘Okay guys, let’s stop this nonsense and partition the train into independent cars and let each car operate independent of the others, with each car having its own locomotive engine.’ xxx

“Just like the partitioned train, partitioning the Philippines into five independent countries would create a serious economic and political problem. Each independent country would have to create a bureaucracy of its own. It would have to maintain its own military forces. It would have to build its own educational system. It would have to sustain its own financial institutions. It would have to maintain costly diplomatic relations with other nations of the world. The ‘to do’ list is endless.

“In other words, everything that the Philippine government has today would have to be replicated in each sovereign and independent nation. And it takes years in building a new nation. It took the United States more than 225 years to evolve into what it is today.”

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TWO VIEWS: Amending the Constitution to change the present presidential system, possibly into a parliamentarian and/or federal setup, was the focus yesterday of the weekly Kampus Kapihan at the Angeles University Foundation here.

The resource persons were two members of the 42-member Consultative Commission formed by President Arroyo to help her gather, analyze and organize proposed charter amendments.

They were Dr. Emmanuel Y. Angeles, AUF chancellor, and Mayor Gerry S. Espina of Naval, Biliran. After the Kapihan, they motored to Manila for the four-days-a-week meetings of the ConCom.

As chairman of the ConCom committee on political systems, Angeles demurred when asked what his choice was between the parliamentary and the presidential systems. But he seemed inclined to favor a shift away from the present presidential system.

Espina was more forthright in saying that the parliamentary system, with the Prime Minister as head of government, would be a better system in curing the political paralysis gripping the nation and pushing it along the road to progress.

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NOT OFFICIALS: Angeles and Espina were one in saying that their inclusion in the ConCom did not necessarily make them public officials.

They were responding to comments that members of the advisory body, which is supported by P10 million in public funds, became public officials upon the assumption of their duties.

Espina said they were not being paid for their labor. He added that the fact alone that they were given a chance to do something important for the country was compensation enough.

Angeles held the same view. He added that he would not accept ConCom membership if that made him a public official. In the case of Espina, he said being a public official might result in a conflict since he is already a public official (town mayor).

My view does not matter, but I think that if it can be shown that they are participating in the performance of a public function or are performing public duties as ConCom members, they are public officials.

On remuneration, my view is that — whatever their status — it is only fair that they be compensated for work done and reimbursed for necessary expenses. Anyway, whatever amounts are involved will not be so substantial as to make them as financially bloated as senators, congressmen or Cabinet members.

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LA MANCHA: The AUF Repertory Theater here has just debunked the conventional notion that quality stage performances are to be expected only in Metro Manila, it being the de facto cultural capital.

If the Repertory’s “Man of La Mancha” run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 at the AUF St. Cecilia’s Auditorium is any indication, cultural ferment has come to town. Applause, cheers and adulation from the packed audience marked each performance.

During the Sept. 30 gala presentation, the evening dedicated to VIP guests, sponsors, patrons, and other personalities in politics, business and media, AUF chancellor Angeles congratulated Repertory Theater resident director Tony Mabesa.

Mabesa, in turn, lauded the sterling performances of the AUF-bred cast led by Adrian Yu, who essayed the roles of Cervantes/Don Quixote, Karla Mae Santos who played Aldonza/Dulcinea, Sammy Lingad, who portrayed the Manservant/Sancho, and Ramel Yambao, who was the Padre.

Mabesa acknowledged the hard work of the production staff, which included musical director Boron Garcia, choreographer Poklong Guina, set designer Tuxqs Rutaquio, lighting director Voltaire de Jesus, and costume designer Richard de Jesus.

Credit was also extended by the director to band conductor July Macapagal, rondalla conductor Leovie Ruga and band conductor July Macapagal, pianist Nelson Sese and the AUF Repertory Theater Ensemble.

Director Boron Garcia of the AUF Center for Culture and the Arts announced that Man of La Mancha would have repeat performances when the second semester opens in November.

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INNER WHEEL: The biggest-ever Inner Wheel Club of Manila annual Christmas bazaar will be held Nov. 5, a Saturday, at the World Trade Center on Roxas Blvd. in Pasay City.

Dubbed as “Sari-Saring Shopping, Sari-Saring Tulong,” the IWCM sale offers selections of classic and rare seasons’ decors, apparel for men, ladies and kids, household novelties, handicraft, toys, books, personal care products, international food, and other gift items. IWCM will also hold product demos, promotions, sampling, and fashion shows, and spot raffle prizes for lucky shoppers.

President Drina R. Ampil of IWCM, the oldest and most prestigious in Asia, said proceeds of the annual bazaar have supported such projects as feeding program, day care center, medical missions, scholarships, sewing and computer training for out-of-school youth and housewives, and its geriatric pavilion at the National Center for Mental Health.

Ms Marivic A. Juico, bazaar committee chair, said more table areas are being offered this year. Corporate exhibitors are encouraged to set up stalls to promote their products and services. The IWCM Secretariat is at 524-9914/522-1864.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 6, 2005)

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