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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Davao Declaration of the NTC Assembly last Dec. 5 called for resignation of President Aquino and his Cabinet for failure to competently handle the gargantuan problems of nation---which are really a string of leadership crises P-Noy has created. With Ruby presaging natural calamities to hit us with more intensity and frequency owing to global warming, Davao NTC argues that all the more there's need for leaders with more competence, honesty and integrity. Davao has a history of revolutionary tendencies.


Backdrop of the National Transformation Council Assembly in Davao City

Citizens lining up to sign the Davao Declaration


The National Transition Council convened once again in Davao City last Friday, Dec. 5. It was preceded by the very first NTC Assembly in Lipa City last Sept. 30, followed by Cebu City last Oct. 1, Butuan City last Nov. 11 and Angeles City last Dec. 2. In all these assemblies participants were quite fired up over the crying need to institute “regime and systems change” as well as badly-needed reforms to uphold the moral and political order and the Constitution. The rallying cry in these five NTC assemblies: it’s time for the President to resign over the corruption and incompetence of his administration in various fields of endeavor, and let more competent and honest leaders take over the reins of government.

With typhoon Ruby, said to be equivalent to the strength of typhoon Pablo and following super-typhoon Yolanda of 13 months ago, it’s clear that natural calamities will be upon us in increasing frequency and strength, owing to global warming. All the more we have to pay a premium for competence and honest and judicious employment especially of public funds---something the Aquino administration given to corrupting legislators and Cabinet officials cannot claim. 

As the nation's crisis deepens, all the more there's need for more competent and moral leaders to take over.  

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The Davao NTC Assembly listed grave shortcomings of this administration, such as “the President’s continued stranglehold upon Congress in violation of the separation of powers and the doctrine of checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government.” It deplored the Aquino administration's virtual control of the conduct of elections, thwarting the sovereign will of the people in many many instances in the last two national elections, and Comelec's indifference to fraud complaints by IT experts. 

Davao NTC also zeroed in on the railroading of the “P2.6 trillion budget which resurrects all the lump sum discretionary appropriations which the Supreme Court had unanimously declared unconstitutional when it voided the pork barrel system in August last year and the DAP last July 2014." The NTC also deplored on-going  attempts by this administration to grab more pork barrel in the form of the P22 billion supplemental budget currently being rammed through Congress for 2014. The P22 billion in large part will supposedly be allotted to the Yolanda crisis, on top of so many billions already allocated for that particular crisis in a rush supplemental budget for 2013 and in the 2014 budget. 

There's also the failure of the Aquino administration to address “the nationwide transportation, energy and electric power crisis.”

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But above all, declared the Davao Assembly which was constituted mostly by citizens from all over Mindanao---lumads, indigenous peoples, sectoral and professional leaders as well prominent multi-faith leaders from there, led by Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla: “AS MINDANAOANS, WE SPECIFICALLY LAMENT THE ADMINISTRATION'S HALF-BAKED EFFORTS TO PASS A BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW WITHOUT SUFFICIENT CONSULTATIONS WITH ALL THE AFFECTED PARTIES IN MINDANAO AND BEYOND, WHICH IS INDISPENSABLE IN CREATING THE CONSENSUS THAT WILL ULTIMATELY SUPPORT THE LAW'S MOST AMBITIOUS PROVISIONS. THIS IS MOST UNFAIR AND UNJUST TO ALL MUSLIM FILIPINOS AND ALL OTHER FILIPINOS, WHO LOOK FORWARD TO LONG LASTING PEACE AND PROSPERITY THROUGH A MEANINGFUL, AUTONOMOUS STRUCTURE.”

"AS MINDANAOANS, WE ALSO DEPLORE THE FAILURE OF THE AQUINO ADMINISTRATION TO HELP THE LOWLY COCONUT FARMERS ACQUIRE WHAT IS DUE THEM, BY PASSIVELY STANDING BY WHILE A GROUP OF ELITIST POLITICIANS AND THEIR CRONIES TRIES TO TORPEDO AN AGREEMENT THAT WOULD FINALLY GIVE THE FARMERS THE RIGHT TO USE THEIR OWN FUNDS COMING FROM THE COCONUT LEVY."

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In view of the reality of a multitude of problems of varying enormity, the Davao Assembly solemnly declared that “We must now transform our vision... of a well-run, peaceful, God-loving and prosperous democratic nation” into reality “at the earliest possible time” through such “lawful action” as is necessary and desirable" The end goal: “to transform the moral, political and constitutional order of the nation.” 

In other words, declared the Davao Assembly, “WE HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT NO SOLUTIONS ARE POSSIBLE WHILE THE AQUINO GOVERNMENT IS IN OFFICE. THE SOLUTION WILL COME ONLY UPON THE REMOVAL OF THE AQUINO GOVERNMENT, AND ITS REPLACEMENT BY A MORE RESPONSIBLE AND CARING GOVERNMENT.
FOR THIS REASON, WE UNANIMOUSLY DECLARE THAT THE TIME TO COMPEL PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO TO STEP DOWN IS NOW, THAT AT THE END OF THIS DAVAO ASSEMBLY, THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL SHOULD EMBARK UPON A NATIONWIDE MOBILIZATION EFFORT IN ORDER TO TRANSFORM ITS VISION INTO REALITY.”

In the memorable words of Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles in that first assembly: "Now na, now na."

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The Davao Declaration, signed by many thousands, becomes more significant in the light of typhoon Ruby which would demand much more concerted and competent effort of government to rehabilitate huge swathes of devastated populations and areas. This is quite apart from the failure of the Aquino government to address problems spawned by Yolanda over a year ago which have been left to fester, as recent photos of Ruby’s damage on the makeshift shanties of Yolanda-era have shown.

In the wake of problem upon problem wrought by past and recent devastations in the Visayas---let alone the coming power shortages all over the country, the increase in corruption and criminality owing partly to the demoralization of the PNP, and the economic downturn resulting in more loss of jobs---it’s easy to deduce that this administration would clearly become even less and less competent to handle all these gargantuan problems.

This is the message of the NTC Assembly in various places in the archipelago which cannot be taken lightly, as it's being pondered by many of our people, whether in groups or in the quiet of small conversations and solo pondering.

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Davao has always been a favorite breeding place of revolutionaries of various kinds.

It will be recalled that opposition leaders Cory Aquino and various members of the Batasang Pambansa were gathered in a sudden caucus in Cebu City during the night of the breakaway and mutiny of Defense Chief Juan Ponce Enrile and AFP Vice Chief Fidel Ramos on Jan. 22, 1986, in the dying days of the regime of President Marcos.

As the Cebu group assessed the results of that dramatic breakaway of the anti-Marcos military group, Assemblyman Ramon Mitra proposed what seemed startling to many then: to establish a revolutionary government in Davao while the military faction was locked in a stand-off with the Marcos forces in Manila. 

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I recall how forceful Mitra’s argument was and how well-received and seriously pondered it was especially by Davaoenos such as Lito Lorenzana and Chito Ayala, and Mindanaoans like Homobono Adaza and Nene Pimentel. Had the EDSA Revolution not broken out later that night of Jan. 22, 1986, after Cardinal Sin summoned people to surround Camp Aquino, something like Davao could have materialized in the next few days.   

Over the decades since then Davao has been in the eye of various political activities that include Muslim separatists and left-wing groups. The colorful Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s higher but still secret personal ambition is always gist for media speculation, and among spinning rumors is that former President Fidel Ramos, his former National Security Adviser Joe Almonte and former Chief Justice Reynato Puno have been quietly meeting with Duterte. 

And so the world turns, and the nation awaits deliverance from incompetence and corruption.



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