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Rough Cuts | Charter change: ‘Gone with the wind?’

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has barely two years left in his term. And we are certain that one big promise he made during the 2016 presidential election campaign that he would likely fail to deliver is the change of the country’s charter that includes the form of government. The President wanted a Federal system; a Charter that would ban political dynasty even without Congress passing an enabling legislation.

Yes, during the first few months of the President in Malacanang he was bullish about his charter change efforts. He even constituted a Constitutional Commission to draft a new charter that was later submitted to Congress for review and consideration.

Of course the members of the two-house legislative body were not hesitant to show their coolness to the submitted draft even as they manifested overtly their opposition on one provision in the proposed new constitution — the ban on political dynasty. They sat on the Commission’s draft and instead submitted theirs which understandably suits their own political interest.

Intriguingly too, from then on, the President himself also seemingly lost his aggressiveness to pursue his charter change commitment. Talks about the change which used to dominate the front page of national broadsheets and lead stories in broadcast news slowly vanished.

From the looks of it the President seems to be slowly realizing the futility of his efforts to pursue his desire for a constitutional change. Clearly, he is running out of time. And from his own tolerance he knows he does not have moral ascendancy in forcing inclusion of one important provision in the new charter — the ban on political dynasty.

We believe however, that the President still has time to have certain provisions in the present charter amended so that the fundamental law of the land can keep abreast with the needs of the times, especially the requirements of a fast changing global economic and political environment.

The only possible major hurdle for the President to work for amendments of the existing charter is the distraction brought about by the many disastrous incidents that badger his administration’s remaining two years.

How his administration handles the responses necessary to mitigate the impact of the series of disasters lately will probably be the acid test of the President’s capability to deliver on his other promises.

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Davao City’s economy these days is somehow being forced on its knees by two disastrous phenomena that come almost at the same time.

We are referring to the onset of the corona virus 2019 or CoV19, and the African Swine Fever (ASF) that came to the Davao Region including some areas in Davao City at this time when many were thinking it was already gone in Luzon.

On the COVID-19 the scare of its spread in the city has forced – and rightly so – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to cancel all major activities that are scheduled to be held during the 83rd Araw ng Dabaw celebration next month. Meaning, the usual parade of floats and people, concerts, games, beauty and brains pageants like Mutya ng Dabaw selection, and may be the ceremony for the awarding of this year’s Datu Bago awardees, will be done away with. The mayor finds it prudent to cancel these activities as this could be one effective measure to prevent transmission of the COVID-19. After all, the earlier mentioned undertakings for the Araw festivity are expected to draw huge number of people who could be potential carriers of the scary illness. The same activities are known money makers for the city mainly because these draw a lot of tourists both local and foreign. Once these people converge in the city to attend any or all of the prior-mentioned “Araw” events they will be spending huge sum of money in the city. Yes, they will be splurging money for their hotel stay, food, souvenir items, transportation in roaming around the city, and may be for the booze. With the cancellation, all hopes for money to pour into the coffers of the city’s economy are also likely to be “gone with the wind.”

Meanwhile, the onset of the ASF in the Davao Region, and lately in some parts of the city that host several backyard and large scale piggeries, pushes the swine industry in this part of the country down the floor.
Imagine what it means to the people with meat stalls in public markets when they have to stop their trade because no one is willing to buy hog meat and any of its by-products? And how many are they all over Davao City?

Then the orders from certain provincial and city governments in the Visayas to ban entry of live hogs, pig meat and other processed swine products in their respective jurisdiction came. Yes, several large piggeries in the region and other parts of Mindanao are supplying the meat requirements of a huge hog meat canning factory in Cebu province. And there are several grocery establishments getting supplies of processed meat like chorizos from Davao as well.

We could only commiserate with a niece of ours who operates a meat stall in one of the city’s markets. She told us that on the average a live hog weighing a hundred or over kilos slaughtered and retailed in her stall would give a profit of between P5,000 to P8,000. She said that her stall’s daily average sales would hit between four to six heads. So, that would mean an average profit of between P20,000 to P30,000 daily. With the ASF around her disposal now goes down to as low as one head per day.

A simple math will easily give us the figure how much each meat stall could be losing these days. And how many meat stall holders are there in Davao City’s public markets? Then add to them the meat shops inside large city malls and groceries. The figure could be unimaginable. How long will these two devastating phenomena last? Only time can tell.

But we trust the government is doing its best to arrest the spread of both the COVID-19 and the ASF. It cannot afford to just stand or seat and act like watching a sailboat passing by. That would be like doing vigil for a slowly dying person, and in the instant COVID-19 and ASF cases, a dying economy.

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