Paying our respects

All Saints’ Day is just around the corner and it should be a time to pay our respects to those who went before us. Not just our parents or loved ones but all others.
More so to those who contributed to our well being or our better life. For any such contribution would have required some thinking or labor and, in most cases, some big sacrifices.
One of those who passed away recently to whom we should be thankful is former Senate President Nene Pimentel. He was popularly known as the father of the Local Government Code. The theme of that code is to empower local governments through devolution and decentralization.
There is a lot of presumption behind this. That local officials are responsible and capable enough to look after the welfare of their constituents—who should be educated and intelligent enough to make their officials accountable. A big indication of this supposed maturity of the voters is if they are not selling their votes whenever they go to the polls.
Sadly, this appears not to be the case. Thus, politicians have to have big and hefty war chests—filled with corrupted money from projects– every election time. Because we are still feudal in thinking. That is, we, in general, are like the serfs of yore ruled by dictators or royalties without question if they are being treated fairly or with justice. As long as they could keep body and soul together, they just went on living, meekly obeying without questioning.
And so the first time devolution was implemented, it was a disaster. Local leaders did not have enough brains to find ways to be able to pay the devolved employees and officers well enough. The result was the hue can cry against devolution. Good thing the Local Government Code did not get repealed. It is being implemented slowly and sooner or later, we should become matured enough to take care of ourselves, not waiting for “big national government” to always come around and take care of our needs.
That is our hope and that is the only way that we in the peripheries of the country will get our just share from the national wealth or our local wealth. For what is happening in the highly centralized system which is still the way it is now, is that all the national wealth go to the center of the state which is Metro Manila and then we only get crumbs from what we contributed.
For example, the big mining companies that depleted our mineral wealth had their head offices in Metro Manila and that was where they had been paying, and are still paying, the bulk of their taxes.
How about us? Well, we are still one of the poorest regions of the country. So the Local Government Code is a step in the right direction.
Let us pay our respects to its father, the former Senate President Nene Pimental. And perhaps, let us introspect on how we can contribute to the attainment of his vision. **

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