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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 10, 2019
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with Benjamin Calderon

Fighting over money

Rock & Refuge

The government’s budget for 2019 is now held hostage to an on-going tussle between Congress and Malacañang or between the legislative and executive branches of government. This local political situation is similar to that being experience by the U.S.A. wherein the budget is being used as a political tool related to the construction of a border wall.

The editorial of a national daily says, “The free-for-all that has erupted between Congress and Malacañang over the still-unpassed budget is an unseemly spectacle, and one may question Andaya et al.’s motives for their campaign against Diokno. Lawmakers like him have to account for the brazen pork-barrel insertions in the budget in defiance of the law’s intent against pork. But, likewise, Diokno must submit to the same test of transparency and probity.” As a citizen and tax payer, I agree that both parties need to be transparent with the quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency: in trying to find a resolution to their conflict.

Now we learn how the executive responds when we read in a new article, “House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. lacks common sense, Malacañang said on Tuesday after the Camarines Sur representative threatened to take Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to court if he suspended payment of salary increases to civil servants this month as a result of the delay in the approval of the P3.8-trillion national budget for 2019. The government is operating on the reenacted 2018 national budget, also about P3.8 trillion, because of Congress’ failure to enact the 2019 national budget.”

While this altercation and exchange of insults, put downs, and slander mark the political disagreement, the process of finding a solution toward the approval of the 2019 national budget reflects the “political maturity or immaturity” of our political process and politicians involved. As a citizen, voter and tax-payer and in my opinion the idealist resolution to this political power play is upholding the superiority of the public good over and above personal and political party interest.

Let us end with an anecdote that encourages us to respect and try to understand differing perspectives of reality as follows: A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?" The survey was a huge failure. In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant. In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant. In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant. In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant. In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant. In South America they didn't know what "please" meant. And in the USA, they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.*

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