• Focus and discipline

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    There are several things that would be of interest to this administration, if they just focus on the very reason why they are in power: the people who went against the conventional wisdom and elected a mayor from Mindanao to be president. Clearly, the change was a fault line waiting to move and it moved in May 2016. Focus should be made on the revision of the constitution, AmBisyon 2040 and changing the budget paradigm to respond to inclusive development.

    16 million voted for a mayor with decades of executive experience. 16 million wanted change and change not defined by the past 6 years but change that would solve age old problems that F. Sionil Jose characterized as: “Many of our problems are due to the irresponsibility of the oligarchs; they are the No. 1 culprit of our economic and moral decline. They argue and make decisions from comfortable positions. The revolution is happening, and they cannot see it. Perhaps, when it reaches them, they will be forced to be more socially involved and invest in enterprises that will ‘spread money like fertilizer.’ They may even bring home the money they have stashed or invested abroad, and participate in the resurgence of ethics and patriotism.”

    Duterte does not belong to the caciques and hacienderos, but he is not abject poor. He is not part of the oligarchs. He has never been in their guest list and probably, he has not maintained relationships with many of the A-listers. He is in the most opportune position to do what needs to be done without being concerned with those who have held captive this country due to greed and total focus on ensuring the bottoms and more. That makes his victory and administration a catalyst for genuine change and the voters who supported him and those who today trust him would have to continue the engagement because the agents of the oligarchs are now moving to dull Duterte’s edge. We cannot allow this to happen.

    And that is why ConAss can never be a workable solution to correct ills assured by the very system that made our elections bad and our unitary set up dysfunctional. The argument being peddled today is the cost of CONCON is too prohibitive. Really? how about removing pork and placing it to a constitutional revision fund? How many trillions of pesos have we wasted from 1987 to 2014, when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that pork is unconstitutional and DAP, another set of alphabets referring to lard, is illegal?

    On June 20, 2016, the National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA released the result of a survey called AmBisyon 2040. The survey was commissioned by both the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and NEDA in March 2015. It was conducted using face-to-face personal interviews of 10,000 respondents (male/female aged 15-50 years old) from ABCDE income homes.

    AmBisyon 2040 is the shared vision and roadmap of Filipinos which the Duterte administration need to look into and take to heart. Their work has been defined to them by the Filipinos themselves. 79 percent of Filipinos preferred to have a simple and comfortable life, according to NEDA, 16.9 percent want an affluent or well-off life followed by 3.9 percent who aspire for the life of the rich. The Filipino’s definition of a simple and comfortable life is having the following: medium-sized home; having enough earnings to support everyday needs; owning at least one car/vehicle; having the capacity to provide college education for their children and going on local trips for vacation

    What should the country have achieved by 2040? “The Philippines shall be a country where all citizens are free from hunger and poverty, have equal opportunities, enabled by a fair and just society that is governed with order and unity. A nation where families live together, thriving in vibrant, culturally diverse, and resilient communities.” Get hold of the copy of the survey and see the wealth of information one can use for a roadmap for the future. The Duterte administration has a good baseline to start with, if they just focus and have the discipline to execute both at the policy and program levels.

    Finally, if we are to create the needed environment to deal with poverty, we should introduce in our budgetary process the 10, 20, 30 Initiative introduced in 2014 in the US Congress. The Initiative directs at least 10 percent of budget to communities where 20 percent or more of the population had lived below the poverty line for the last 30 years. We just had our population census in 2015 so we can really zero in on data and identify where the 20% of the population living below the poverty line for the past 30 years or since 1986 are.

    10-20-30 Initiative doesn’t require additional funding — only the stipulation that at least 10% of any agency’s appropriated programmatic funds be invested in communities where 20% had lived below the poverty line for the past 30 years. Targeted, focused and direct to those living in poverty. Should we shun revolution because it brings disarray and disorder or do we stand with a leader who is willing to lead it? The discontent was there and is still prevalent. The expectations are high. There is electricity in the air but there are those who are part of the political cabal who wants the easier way out and an incremental change. Must we allow them?

    Various countries have launched their revolutions and most are better off. So, indeed, “for a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.”

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