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Sep 05

Abolish councilor positions

Voting 30 to 7, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved this afternoon, a resolution proposing amendments to the Constitution. Some congressmen miffed because they’ve been counted as supportive of amendments when they’re not.

An article by Seth Mydans is causing quite a buzz: Beloved Priest Defends Marines, Angering Filipinos. Is it a case of Fr. Reuter surrendering, at the end of the day, to “my country right or wrong,” or is he simply bucking the trend and daring to be different? Should he have spoken up, does he have a point? There are those, like Carlos Celdran, who are irritated with Fr. Reuter. My view is, he’s not the most effective backer for the Marines. He couldn’t have had any personal knowledge of the crime, and if he relied on his pastoral experience to figure out if the accused Americans are guilty or not, whatever he says can only be marginally helpful -after all, his knowledge surely didn’t extend prior to the incident. However, he must have known the implications of his publicly taking sides the way he did, since he is wise in the ways of public relations and media.

Supreme Court: we will act swiftly on the question of a people’s initiative. They also say it’s OK to confiscate Gen. Garcia’s wealth.

President furious at Rep. Cayetano: news circulates around the world.

Ombudsman goes after 50 bureaucrats who used official cars for personal purposes. What about cabinet officials who travel in vehicles without license plates? College and high school students who use congressional and senatorial license plates? Other officials who use prohibited police escorts?

2007 Budget has plenty for everyone: higher salaries; and infrastructure.

Provincial schools veer away from nursing. Aside from hitting Mike Defensor, Sen. Pimentel makes an alarming expose: Filipino nurses treated unfairly by recruiters:

The nurses, most of whom were licensed doctors in the Philippines, had filed a complaint with the POEA and with the National Labor Relations Commission that led to the suspension of Sentosa’s license.

The group included Elmer Reyes Jacinto, topnotcher in the 2004 medical board exams who decided to leave the country and work in the United States as a nurse. The nurses have sought the revocation of their contract with SRA.

Pimentel said SRA had promised them salaries ranging from $21 to $35 per hour, medical coverage, relocation and housing allowances, free malpractice insurance, free airfare to New York, reimbursement of processing certification and licensure fees, flexible work schedules from eight to 12 hours, generous shift differentials and comprehensive training.

But when they got to New York, the nurses were not only short-changed, they were also passed from one agency to another.

Is the Thai government manipulating media? Thai economy wobbly. Indonesian economy optimistic. In the USA, Republicans worry over losing control of the House of Representatives:

Senate Republican Majority Whip Mitch McConnell did not deny Sunday his party was facing difficult times, but urged voters to think what will be in store for the country in case of a Democratic victory.

“They’ll wave the white flag in the war on terror,” he warned. “And they’ll try to impeach the President.”

A curious story of an American senatorial privilege in Slate.

In the punditocracy, an exceedingly interesting column by Lito Banayo on the system he and some people he talked to, would prefer. On the whole, their preferences are:

1. Unicameral, with a twist (see below);
2. The Presidential system, with presidents and vice-presidents elected as a ticket;
3. A two-party system.

As for his own personal preferences, Banayo says,

I will go for a two-party presidential system with a unicameral legislature, elected for a six-year term of office with a single re-election. The president and his vice-president shall be elected as a block, and hopefully this would mean that the political parties choosing their candidates in convention or otherwise would choose on the basis of demonstrated competence for the highest office, unquestioned integrity, and geographic balance…

But similar to the United States, I would have the elected vice-president automatically preside over the unicameral legislature…

I would abolish the provincial board, an unnecessary appendage that hardly does anything except appropriate provincial funds. I would instead have the municipal mayors take turns … as the legislative arm of the province. This would be like a board of directors making policy, all of them representing the actual stakeholders … The governor and the vice-governor shall also be elected as a team.

Likewise, I would abolish the city and municipal councilors, and have a block-elected mayor and vice-mayor govern with duly-elected barangay chairmen taking turns at constituting the ordinances of the local government unit…

In fine, a voter would need to elect only the following: The president, whose vote automatically accrues to his party-designated vice-presidential candidate; the district congressman; the governor or city mayor, and automatically their team mates; and the municipal mayor, along with his vice-mayor. Thus, the voter needs to tick off only four names in the computer monitor or even three in the case of highly urbanized cities. Why, you could deputize bank-ATM’s for elections…

And earlier in his column, concerning a unicameral legislature, Banayo wrote this:

But on which unicameral legislature, the preference was for an expanded Senate, which says a lot about how the group held the lower House in contempt. Some preferred election of senators by region, proportionate to voting population. So, if we have 40 million voters, then let us elect 40 senators proportionately distributed.

I recall some months ago, someone told me that in a private survey, this was actually the preference of people from Mindanao (according to the survey, from what I recall, Luzon was open to the idea of abolishing the Senate; the Visayas, surprisingly enough, most insistent on preserving the bicameral setup; while Mindanao wanted the House abolished and the Senate retained). I am actually open to the idea of a unicameral legislature if elected nationally.

I myself have been pushing for the return of block voting for some time; and while I tend to think that all political parties, bar none, are by instinct corrupt and corrupting, one French historian I admire very much did tell me that in his opinion, the Philippines would really be better off under a two-party system, so if it offers the prospects of political peace, perhaps the idea is a valid one. I have also heard the abolish councilors proposal from people like Dick Gordon, and I think the idea has merit, too. Banayo’s idea of how local officials can serve in provincial legislatures was also floated by Gordon, and is an idea as old as the 1943 Constitution (for the sake of debate I’d go further and propose a lower house composed of governors, and a nationally-elected upper house with trimmed powers).

See also Inside PCIJ for further readings on presidential vs. parliamentary system debates.

What Lito Banayo does for the political system, Gilda Cordero-Fernando does for the arts. Read her remarks before the 32nd Umpil Writer’s Congress.

John Mangun looks at whether a strong peso is good, and whether anything should be done about it.

In the blogosphere, Justice Isagani Cruz’s shadow hasn’t lifted. LAGABLAB explains the entire issue and sets it in perspective.

blackshama’s blog prefers to take a Darwinian look at things (which is all right as long as one recognizes the perils of being too enthusiastic about applying Darwinian concepts to society: it was along such lines that homosexuals were culled from the population by the Germans); and while Newsstand warned of the perils of substitution, beerkada does it anyway, to devastating effect. missing points makes good points about Cruz and two other elders.

the Black and White Movement blog recounts meeting Raul Lambino. Yugatech explains why a web designer is up in arms against a devious client.

Pajamas Media: World War II technology might have a new lease on life -make oil from coal.

radioactive adobo shudders upon realizing the Christmas season has begun; radioactivity points to what sounds like an interesting novel;

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  1. Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » Dey wuz robbed!

    […] also suggests something I’ve covered elsewhere: I propose that we abolish city and municipal councilors, and give the task of legislating […]

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