Thursday, March 22, 2007

The weather can sink politicians and possibly the country!

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco recently announced from the Governor's Mansion that she won't run again in this year's gubernatorial elections. Of course I would be long gone from this state when that happens but still I can follow the news through the internet. But why did Madame Blanco decide to quit the race?

Another lady, quite nasty did in her political career. In 2005 Katrina the hurricane destroyed parts of this state especially hard hit was New Orleans. From the several books I've read on the event and conversations with locals, the state was simply overwhelmed. The Federal response was slow since in this kind of system of government, the state has to request the Federal government to assist, especially about Federalizing the National Guard, which is under the Governor. Of course the Federal government won't intrude into the functions and powers of the states. If the Louisiana National Guard was placed under Federal control, US law prevents it from doing law enforcement activities. In the Federal system, the Federal government's powers are checked and balanced by the Constitution. Presidents are loathe to intrude into state affairs. The US has learned its hard lessons in the Civil War.

Blanco refused President GW Bush's offer to federalize the National Guard. This has been a controversial topic until today. The hurricane is history but the damage still is apparent. Blanco's main preoccupation now is on Louisiana's recovery and created an authority to manage the efforts. While she has managed to get more money for reconstruction, disbursements to the affected have been slow. She did propose a 2 billion dollar spending package for speeding the recovery to the State legislature but this was voted down.

Her approval ratings which was 60% and higher before Katrina plunged to 30% afterwards. She decided not to seek reelection.

The weather can really sink a political career. But Louisiana's experience should give proponents of the Federal system for the Philippines some second or third thought!

Say for example the country is now a Federal union of several states and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is Federal President.

Let's say the State of Cebu was headed by a governor opposed to Mrs Arroyo. Unfortunately a Category 5 typhoon hits Cebu City and sinks it. The damage to the economy is enormous. Cebuano pride and the governor refuses to seek help from GMA and the state security forces are not federalized. GMA then sends the AFP (under her command) and legally invades Cebu! I wonder what could happen?

Given that in the Philippines, constitutional checks and balances are honored more in the breach than observance (unless it suits Malacanang), we can foresee a lot of chaos.

Will Cebu secede from the union? LOL!

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