Pacete: The governor in a federal government

Students of Political Science and Sociology seem to have a nightmare on the vivid dream of some of our politicians on what should be changed in our Constitution and what should become of our government. It seems that only President Digong and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez are certain on what’s going to happen to the Philippines.

Many of our “kasimanwas” out there know little on how federalism
runs. Our nearest vicarious experience is federalism in America because of what we read in newspapers, seen on television, or observed in movies. What will be the role of the governor in our state? I would like to believe that the formal powers of governors are spelled out in the state constitution or in state statutes.

Governors are central figures in state politics. A governor is the most apparent political actor in a state and is considered by many citizens as the personification of the state itself. (I do not know yet if we will have a Negros state or the West Visayas state). The state legislative, bureaucracy, press and politics all bear the imprint of a governor.

The governor of our state (could be from Panay, Negros or Guimaras) will bring industry and jobs into our state, prevent prison riots, raise teachers’ salaries, keep taxes low, see that the state gets its fair share of the grant money from the center of the federal government (Manila or Davao?), provide disaster relief, and bring tourists into the state.

That governor for our state is perceived to be a leader that could be relied upon during crises and disasters – everything from floods, typhoons, fires, droughts, toxic waste spills, nuclear plant accidents, and acts of terrorism. We are not looking for Superman but our governor should be super. If a “she” is elected, then she should be Wonder Woman.

Governors must resolve conflicts within their administrations and troubleshoot where difficulties arise. (If a scandal occurs, governors must actively eliminate it. If he is the one involved, he should submit himself to authority.) A governor is responsible for initiating major legislative programs. He will be sending bills to the legislature.

If we follow tradition in federalism, the governor is regarded as the head of the political party (his political party) in the state. He is the ceremonial head … signing bills, welcoming delegates, attending professional conventions of the associations held in his state, meeting children visiting state capitol, and representing his state at national and international events.

He negotiates with the local governments on the division of state and local responsibilities for public programs like highway development, water pollution, resource conservation, and reciprocity in state laws. His comments on public affairs make news, and he is sought after for television, radio and other public appearances.

This is very intriguing because the governorship is a much sought-after office. This could be the stepping stone of a politician to become a senator, vice-president or even president of the country. I personally believe that an excellent lawyer is qualified to be a governor … but actors, musicians, businessmen and clowns are not exempted. We saw plenty of them making our government a circus.

It is also good to vote (later) candidates for governors those who have experience in local elective office, statewide executive posts, agency administration, and enforcement. If we have to follow the US pattern, competition is usually strong, both in primary and general elections, for the governorship. The choice should be focused on personal leadership qualities. I hope there will be no more money involved.

We just don’t know if in our federalism our state will have also other executive offices like that of the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurers, Auditors and Comptrollers. Each state needs a Secretary of State who will be the chief custodian of state records. He is also the state’s chief election officer.

The governor may have a chief of staff, an appointment secretary, a legal counsel, several speech writers, one or more legislative aides, and advisors in key policy areas … education, welfare, highways, health, homeland security, economic development, and the environment.

The job of the governor has the greatest influence over key public policies that have long-lasting effects on his state and its voters. Well, those are only my political perceptions. Let us wait for what is going to happen next. The next move is yours.
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