Doing Nothing Can Save the Day

Five days to go before the term of our elected officials comes to an end.  No other place in the Philippines is under a heart-stopping suspense drama than South Cotabato.  No other elected official in today’s government, GMA included, is as anxious to end her term as Governor Daisy P. Avance-Fuentes.

South Cotabato has turned into a real life Pandora of the James Cameron film Avatar.  Only that, in this local version, the Na’vi are not in conflict with RDA Corporation.  As a matter of fact, the B’laans and other IPs in South Cotabato are solidly behind the mining project of Sagittarius Mines Inc.

So who are the bida in this local teleserye?

At the centerstage of course is the dear governor, whose hands hold the power of the pen which can make or break the June 9 passage into ordinance of the South Cotabato Environment Code by the provincial legislators.  Voting 9-1-2 (yes-no-abstain in that order), the provincial board members now awaits the governor’s signature to make the Environment Code a legitimate piece of legislation.

The governor of course can veto the Code, and send it back to SP for their ratification.  Once vetoed by the governor, the law directs the SP to ratify the ordinance by a majority vote, in effect overturning the veto power of the governor.  Such is the beauty of our representative democracy!

Whatever the governor chooses to do, she will surely be embroiled in a bigger and certainly, noisier controversy.  If she enacts the Code into law, she will get the ire of the national government officials and agencies for allowing the local legislators to trample upon an otherwise clear delineation of powers between and among the branches/ instrumentalities of governmnent.  

The most contested part of the Code is Section 22 where open pit mining method is banned in the province contrary to several national laws, chief of which is the Mining Act of 1995.   

Of course, big business and foreign governments will also be terribly disappointed.  The government has spent several million of Filipino taxpayer’s money to attract investors to do business in the Philippines, only to be messed up with such an inter-government fiasco.

Local residents and the Blaans, who have started started to experience commercial activities in their otherwise sleepy town will also be enraged for taking away from them a host of potential and the opportunity to improve their lot.

If however the governor chooses to veto the Code, she will get the wrath of a Catholic church scorned.  By Catholic church, this is mostly the  powerful clergy who relishes to display their power to command the students and teachers of their expensive schools to cut classes and mount a rally…else, get detained after class, get low grades or simply and the most convenient threat:  get burned in hell.

A friendly advice to the governor:  DO NOTHING.

Doing nothing is also a decision, and a less troublesome one.  We must remember that public policy is government’s action or inaction- whatever governments choose to do or not do (Read Thomas Dye, 1984).   In this context, doing nothing is bliss.

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