The President of the Philippines is: (1) the Head of Government and the Head of State; (2) the Chief Executive and Chief Initiator of Public Policy; (3) the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; (4) the General Supervisor of Local Governments; (5) the Top Diplomat; (6) the Largest Dispenser of Patronage; (7) the Favorite Scapegoat of the Nation, the media, and the political opposition for any and all problems of the country and the government;
(8) ideally, the national leader in initiating basic reforms in our obsolete and dysfunctional political system, â€œa game changerâ€!
Political System Changer! So our next President should lead in changing our obsolete and dysfunctional political system by amending our 1987 Constitution to abolish our family dynasties, our Presidential Government, and our highly centralized Unitary System under â€œImperial Manila.â€
But only one presidential candidate is openly willing to change our obsolete and dysfunctional political system: Davao City Mayor DUTERTE! As example, he wants to change our highly centralized Unitary Republic into a Federal Republic of autonomous regions and local governments.
The other candidates donâ€™t seem to know our most serious political problem: Ang Bulok na Systemang Politikal. Â Grace Poe is a six-year political leader. She and Miriam Defensor Santiago have never been senior government executives. Mar Roxas has been one but he knows President B.S. Aquino III is against changing â€œThe Cory Constitution.â€ And VP Binay defends his family dynasty which the 1987 Constitution has abolished â€œon principle.â€
The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines: Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya. Our Â new political party, accredited by the Commission on Elections in 2012, believes in the following major reforms requiring urgent changes in the 1987 Constitution.
- Abolish all national elections because these are very expensive, corrupting, and dysfunctional. The national election ofÂ our President, Vice-President and 24 senators is very expensive because of the high cost of nationwide campaigning and electoral administration. The temptation to recover the huge investment in their campaign and election readily leads toÂ corruption and abuse of power. Moreover, the election of these national leaders depends much on their wealth, personal popularity, celebrity or star power, and â€œwin-ability,â€ rather than on their proven competence and leadership. Extending the terms of local government leaders from three to five years will provide continuity in service and reduce election expenses and the temptation to corruption and abuse of power and authority.
- Change our Presidential Government to a Unicameral Parliamentary Government. Our traditional Presidential Government suffers from constant gridlocks, paralyses, and lack of accountability. It is built on the separation of powers and the checks and balances amongÂ the President, the Senate and the House of our bicameral Congress, and the Judiciary. Consequently, the President, the Senate, and the House are often at odds and their built-in conflicts weaken or slow down the enactment of laws and their effective implementation. When our National Government institutions are inefficient, ineffective, corrupt, and wasteful, there is a lot of buck-passing or avoidance of accountability among national officials. Consequently, no one is clearly accountable for poor governance and corruption. Even good leaders are compromised and unable to function well.
The President is guaranteed a term of six years, without reelection, and cannot be removed from office except by impeachment which is almost impossible to do. So the people cannot really makeÂ the President accountable for lack of leadership and poor governance.
In the proposed unicameral Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs) will be elected in parliamentary districts similar to our congressional districts. The Parliament elects the tested leaderÂ of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister: the Head of Government.Â The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers and the bureaucracy are responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honestyÂ or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is accountable to the people for its governance through the Parliament and their respective MPs.
Candidates for Member of Parliament (MP) are required to belong to a duly constituted and registered political party. In turn, as stated, they will elect among themselves the Prime Minister as the Head of Government, and the President as the Head of State.
Overseas Philippine citizens will be represented in the Parliament by their duly elected MPs. These requirement and prerogatives will greatly enhance the importance of political parties as institutions of governance; and the political accountability of the political party or coalition that forms the ruling Government. Representation of overseas Philippine citizens in the Parliament recognizes the reality of our Global Filipino Nation and our inclusive and democratic governance.
A system of Proportional Representation (PR) in Parliament will entitle political parties to designate additional MPs on the basis of their respective partyâ€™s share of all the parliamentary votes cast in the election. This is how marginalized and under-represented sectors can join a political party, because the party-list system will be abolished. PR is widely used in Parliamentary Governments.
The Parliament shall elect the chosen leaderÂ of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister, or as the Head of Government (President?).Â The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers are directly responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honestyÂ or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is also accountable to the people for its governance. The opposition parties and the media, civil society, and vigilant citizens will make sure that it is. As long as the Government does not lose a vote of confidence in Parliament, it can lead and govern the country continually, thus making possible continuity in policy and governance.
- Create Autonomous Regions and Local Governments under a Federal Republic of the Philippines. In our highly centralized Unitary System most governmental powers, authority, and revenues are concentrated in the major institutions and agencies of the National Government that critics call â€œImperial Manila.â€ These entities of the National Government are quite removed from most ofÂ our citizens in the local communities and their local governments. As most regions and local communities are poor and undeveloped, they are very dependent on the National Government. By devolving political power, authority, and finances to the regional and local governments, we shall be empowering them and our citizens.
- Empower our people as sovereign citizens of our Republic. Given our largely self-serving political oligarchy and our dysfunctional political and governmental institutions, our people who are mostly poor and insecure (25-26% of them) are dependent on their political patrons. They must be empowered through education, employment, social security, and their political participation in electing our MPs and local leaders, and running our autonomous regions and local governments.
Frustrated initiatives for reforming our political system by constitutional amendments. The Senate and House committees on constitutional reforms have accumulated proposals and resolutions calling for changes in our political system. But these have been largely ignored by most legislators and presidents who benefit from our obsolete political system: the status quo that has made Philippine democracy like â€œChasing the Windâ€ according to U.P. political scientists.
By profession, I am now Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration at the U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance. I am also an advocate of political and constitutional reforms.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
ByÂ Jose â€œPepeâ€ Abueva