Economic Federalism

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. Florangel R Braid

AT a planning workshop held recently, former Health Undersecretary Mario Taguiwalo, said that "economic federalism" may be the answer to our present crisis. Mario, as many in government and nongovernment circles know, is in great demand as resource speaker as he has that unique talent of matching needs and resources around a unifying vision of society. Both he and political analyst Manolo Quezon facilitated a small group which came up with a number of consensus points but which still needs to be fleshed out in a strategy of action that would respond to some of our urgent needs.

Formal and informal surveys indicate that there is a growing distrust of politics and politicians. Our leaders have failed and that change is required. On the other hand, preferred solutions should not be perceived as extreme -- these are some consensus points among the resource speakers who analyzed the current political situation. How then would the present political parties survive and prevail in this present environment? What sort of identity and ideology should we project to respond to the crisis? Is there a "road not yet taken?" What are the options available?

One very clear consensus area is that political parties must now engage more actively in working with people who work with ideas and development planners and implementors who are able to translate these ideas into concrete performance. It must engage the public in debate, seek solutions to current problems, empower the common good by ensuring latter's access to opportunities. Taguiwalo believes that this can be done through economic federalism, not political federalism. We do not have to shift to federalism which is the long-term goal of Charter change. In fact this is now being done by cooperatives and NGOs involved in microcredit and small and medium enterprises which are propelled by NGO umbrella organizations such as the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Mirant Foundation Philippines, Phinma, Ayala Foundation, etc. But there is also enough space for political parties which can partner with these initiatives. It is defining the parameters for such partnership that is a challenge. …