The real big news, of course, is the return to the blogging scene of the arch-blogger among political bloggers, Philippine Commentary. I, for one, and there are many others, am overjoyed over Dean Jorge Bocobo’s return to the blogosphere. One of his first entries (in this, the latest reincarnation of his blog), points out that the Fil-Am I love to hate, Michelle Malkin, was just being a patriotic American. Touche, and a good point -but her being a patriotic American comes at the expense of her being a race-traitor, in a sense. But I must say that Bocobo points out something I missed, and which should have been obvious. Bocobo, incidentally, speaks highly of Belmont Club, which recently posted an interesting entry on how blogs are gradually becoming sources of news and not just opinion.
Carmen Pedrosa is rather upset that the Advisory Commission on Constitutional Change can’t make up its mind on whether to advocate presidential or parliamentary government, preferring, instead, to take the question to the people. Says she,
Chairman Manny Angeles of the committee on form of government gave his report and the floor was opened for interpellations. After some debate, the view was expressed by some members that the committee report did not convince them that a shift was necessary. On one side there were those who said maybe we should just reform the presidential system we have here and there.
…But in the end, these contrasting views were overruled by those who said they were not convinced a case had been made for a shift to parliamentary government. Ergo, the group must defer any vote before it goes to consultations with the public…
The lesson in all this is a fundamental difficulty of the make-up of the commission. Chairman Abueva expressed this earlier. He said he thought it would be possible to work as a group given that members came from different cultures and disciplines. To me, there was an even more fundamental difference. There were some who had made charter change their advocacy and therefore had done their homework. There were others coming in from the cold and understandably have a different frame of reference in trying to understand the language of charter change advocacy. This substantial difference is worrying with the group poised to consult with the public. I, for one, think that unless we resolve and understand what charter change is all about among ourselves, we will not have a face that could go on consultations with the public.
I hear from my colleagues that we will present both sides of the debate and then allow the people to choose between the two. To me that is a cop-out. I am afraid it will be a case of the blind leading the blind. It may sound good but it will only compound the problem if the idea is to come up with an intelligent response to charter change that President GMA could present to Congress when it proposes the amendments in constituent assembly.
Pedrosa’s frustrations are shared, I’m sure, by other advocates of the parliamentary system, such as former president Ramos and Speaker de Venecia. I recently had a an interesting discussion with an operative of a political party, and according to the operative, when Indonesia looked for a model to emulate when it came to holding democratic elections, they immediately looked to the Philippines. The Indonesians immediately concluded that the Philippine mutli-party system as it exists would not result in anything positive; but preferring, as they did, a presidential system, the Indonesians then discussed how to prevent the Philippine situation which practically assures every president the lack of a clear and undeniable mandate to govern. They decided on run-off elections. However, they realized that run-off elections are expensive; but then, the question boiled down to what would be cheaper, in the long run: a one-off election, with a multiparty system, resulting in minority presidents unequipped with a solid mandate, or run-off elections, which ensured whoever won would be armed with an unquestionable majority? They decided it’s cheaper in the long term, to ensure that the person eventually elected president has a solid majority. I myself prefer the presidential system, and insist that our legislature must always be bicameral. It seems Justice Isagani Cruz is also of the same mind -he pens a hard-hitting blast against the proponents of parliamentary government.
Congratulations are in order to the staff of the new Daily Business Mirror, which Newsstand has been lucky enough to see a copy of. Speaking of newspapers, La Vida Lawyer calls the Philippine Star a crony paper. And BuzzMachine questions the reasoning that insists journalists should be condemned to poverty.