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We agree with Archbishop Cruz and the other maverick bishops. We must change our government now. We also agree with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Reynato Puno. Any change must be done within the framework of the 1987 Constitution. We would like to add: it must be revolutionary yet peaceful. Is all this possible? Yes! Let us discuss how.

First, let us answer a question. Why is corruption and hunger so prevalent in our country? The culprit is accurately identified by federalists: too much concentration of power and wealth in Imperial Manila. They say it must be dispersed. They say that local people must be allowed to plan and work for their own development. They can only do this if more power and wealth are within their control. Well said, but, there’s only one problem. Some federalists insist that this can only be done through federalism and charter change. This is not true. The present Charter does not limit the Senate’s and Congress’ power to devolve power and wealth. Only our lawmakers do.

How does our present set-up foster corruption and hunger? Let us take the case of agriculture. In 1971, Congress devolved the personnel and functions of agriculture to the LGU’s, but not the support funds. So, trained technicians who had to rely on the inclinations of the governors and mayors for their operations. Some technicians were lucky enough to land in LGU’s with receptive officials and ample funds. They were able to do some progress. In municipalities and provinces that could not provide maintenance, operating and operational expenses both services and personnel had to suffer. So do the farmers. So does the country.

On the other hand, the DA itself became bloated with more funds than it can judiciously handle. And so we have the billion-piso swine and fertilizer scams. LGU’s are forced to accept with gratitude irrigation, dryers and farm to market roads, even when obviously overpriced. What else could they do? How else did the term Imperial Manila came about? This simple legislative flaw can be remedied by a simple legislative measure. Even federalists suggest that decentralization through amendment to the local government code is a step towards federalism. Unfortunately, we are so engrossed with federalism that we forgot to undertake this necessary complementary and preparatory step: devolution.

How important is devolution? It can take away so much power and wealth from Imperial Manila and transfer it to cities and provinces where local leaders can tap the participation of local NGO’s and civic minded citizens. Why cities and provinces? Cities and provinces have established operational and financial procedures. They have well-defined working relationships, including powers of supervision, over the municipalities and barangays within their jurisdiction. Existing NGO and regional cooperation can be easily improved or strengthened. In short, it can pursue the fruits promised by federalism without changing the Charter. Simple as this may seem, it would take no less than a revolution to push it through because, as federalists correctly point out, national leadership is reluctant to part with its powers.

We are not picking any quarrel with federalists. We are just trying to help them establish a sound basis for federalism: devolution within the limits allowable under the present Charter. Please. Let us first make the basic steps work. Then, let’s talk if we still need to go further. The kind of revolution we espouse should be clear by now. Local government officials should first be convinced that real local autonomy is within reach now. All they have to do is convince or pressure their congressmen to give it to them now, not after a cha-cha. If they can do this, they will be able to help solve our food crisis but also create more jobs for their constituents. This move  preempts all other forms of revolution!

If PGMA is sincere about stepping down from the presidency in 2010, she herself should lead this kind of revolution. She can leave no better legacy to her country than a political structure that would  enable more citizens throughout the country to work for their own development and prevent any of her successors to hurt the country as she did.  Let each city or province manage its own affairs, but first let us force lawmakers to do their part: yield more power and wealth and disperse it equitably to the people who can best handle it. It had been sitting on it for too long now. It’s time we force them to do their job.