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Need for a national dialogue


By Florangel Rosario Braid

“Disruptive” is now a new buzzword. Both Finance Secretary Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Pernia were reported to have told the Senate that the shift to a federal system is worrisome as it could sink the country’s credit ratings and disrupt the growth momentum.

Federalism, to many Filipinos is now then regarded as a “disruptive” innovation, which together with new technologies in the market are now disrupting business operations and lifestyles.

As we now recognize, technologies such as the web services (cloud computing using online technologies like email, online banking, and social media) have indeed disrupted not only the business world but also our lifestyles. They are challenging existing markets by creating new ones. We have yet to feel the impact of the newer technologies – robotics, artificial intelligence, driveless cars, 3D printing, virtual reality and the so-called “Internet of things” such as when our smart phone start contacting consumers in new ways or when your car communicates with your office to switch on the air conditioning But more on this later, as our concern today is on disruptive innovations in governance and how to achieve national unity.

We are aware of the economic costs of the shift to federalism asPhilippine Institute for Development Studies’ senior fellow Dr. Rosario Manansan had provided figures during earlier Senate hearings. But NEDA Secretary Pernia’s financial estimates on additional bureaucratic cost of the shift to federalism double the figure given by the PIDS study. Furthermore, it would disrupt the growth momentum, according to Secretary Dominguez who noted that the government could incur a very large budget deficit. And when asked what would happen to the credit rating, he said “it will go to hell.” When asked again what would be the subsequent outcome of the effect on credit rating, he said “everyone will pay higher interest rates of up to 6%.”

With these findings, what Senator Lacson said about the cremation of federalism may yet be the course of action that the Senate would take.

We have always said that at this time when the people are restless over inflation, rising unemployment, criminality, violence, and repression of human rights, among others, the focus of government should be in the search for solutions to these priority concerns.

There is a growing clamor for solutions that address the growing economic and social gaps,the consequence of the concentration of growth that benefit only a few. Now, it is becoming more obvious that the deadly cancer in our country today is the excessive growth of capitalism, the impact of which is shown in the unwarranted power of political dynasties and oligarchs and the growing divide between the “we and “them,”  the haves and the have-nots. People have expressed their dissatisfaction in various ways but the solutions they envision are directed towards the same goal – the desire for a fairer, kinder, society where there exists respect and dignity for everyone.

There is no overnight cure for the problem as our society today is so divided Thus, the search for solutions would require a long process of consultation and the presence of trust, faith, and patience. The important thing is that there exists a similar perception of the problem and that there is recognition of the need to involve everyone in a national dialogue. Otherwise, the barriers will continue to exist and everyone would still be moving around in circles. Like in the earlier peace process in Mindanao,the peace we envision may take decades to achieve but the process must start now.

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