When the president goes, what then?

Media continues to focus on former president Fidel V. Ramos, since a much bandied-about showdown in the Lakas-CMD Party takes place this weekend:

GMA, Ramos to meet: One-on-one ahead of Lakas caucus (Manila Times)

FVR to attend meet despite GMA rebuff (Standard-Today)

And let’s play connect-the-stories.

First, regarding Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes, of whom it is said, the Palace wants kicked upstairs:

Reyes prefers DILG chief to ambassadorship to Washington (Manila Times)

Reyes sets sights on politics (Standard-Today)

GMA faces ouster, arrest by own execs, pals psychic (Daily Tribune)

Then, here’s a curious cluster:

Lozano readies new impeachment case (Manila Times)

New plan to impeach easier to kill, Palace feels (Standard-Today)

In other news,

Drilon prods SC on Arroyo’s gag order (Inquirer)

Judge fined for faulty decision on Palace property case (Manila Times)

Palace supports Dutch govt moves to extradite Joma (Manila Times)

Final cluster: survey sez-

Majority want President to shorten term – survey (Standard-Today)

No Gloria ouster, no Cha-cha OK — SWS (Daily Tribune)

Many Pinoys want Arroyo out as part of Cha-cha (Sun-Star)

tempest in a teapot: The Inquirer says  ABS-CBN sacks De Castro’s show  (ostensibly, according to anonymous source, for political reasons), ABS-CBN counters that ABS-CBN: No politics in axing Noli’s ‘MGB’. Blogger and journalist RG Cruz is not amused by the Inquirer headline.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is President for life (the title speaks for itself). Blogger Big Mango dissects my column and asks his own questions based on mine.  Juan Mercado in his column today, kindly mentions one of my previous columns, and argues the only way out is the hard way. No quick solutions.

Columnists focus on Fidel V. Ramos: Patricio Diaz thinks he should think less of himself and stop thinking he’s a “super-president”; Bel Cunanan says Ramos should realize the President utterly trusts the people; Fel Maragay insists Ramos is loyal to the President; Tony Abaya has a devastating column pointing out the Ramos solution actually would result in a hundred day-plus power vacuum.

Interesting views:

The Business Mirror editorial says it is dangerous to view constitutional change as a means of getting rid of the President.

Dong Puno thinks a People’s Initiative to ram through charter change is quite possibly doomed:

…the Constitution expressly provides that initiative is limited to proposed amendments, not to proposed revisions. Section 1 of Art. XVII states that any amendment or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress by a three-fourths vote of all its members, or by a constitutional convention. However, Section 2, which covers people’s initiative, refers only to “amendments.”

In Defensor-Santiago vs. Comelec, the Supreme Court noted that this distinction was deliberate on the part of the framers of the organic law. The proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission made clear that the delegates intended to limit initiative to amendments which did not involve fundamental changes in political philosophy or fundamental structures and institutions of government, to wit:

“MR. SUAREZ: The committee members felt that the system of initiative should not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, so we removed it from the operation of Section 1 of the proposed Article on Amendment or Revision.”

These are formidable legal obstacles for the proponents of a people’s initiative..the pro-initiative forces could also hope that a re-filing of the case before the Supreme Court, assuming they are able to come up with a controversy which the Court takes cognizance of, results in a new verdict. This hope would not be without basis.

Defensor-Santiago was penned by then Associate Justice Hilario Davide, and concurred in by seven Justices. Five Justices dissented and said that R.A. 6735 did implement the right of the people to propose amendments through initiative. One felt the case was premature, the Court’s rulings at best non-binding and possibly obiter dictum.

Of all the Supreme Court Justices sitting at the time, only two remain on the Court, now Chief Justice Panganiban and ranking Senior Justice Reynato Puno. Both were among the dissenters in Defensor-Santiago. Do pro-initiative adherents therefore have reason to be optimistic that the ruling might be reversed? The only way to know for sure is to file an appropriate case in the High Court.

One remaining conundrum is that neither of the remaining Justices tackled the issue of a revision vs. an amendment. The pro-initiative forces will have to find a way around this obstacle. It may be a veritable Gordian Knot.

Alex Magno says there’s an important distinction between digitizing and mechanizing elections:

I had long conversations with Bernardo Pardo when he was chairman of the Comelec. During that time, I tried to dissuade him from investing public money in mechanizing the counting process. That was not the problem.

I encouraged him to look into the possibility of digitalizing the process to help ensure its integrity. But that required a digitally-based national identification system which many groups opposed.

Today, with tamper-proof laser cards, it will be cheaper to digitalize the electoral process than to try to mechanize it with counting machines that break down more often than they work. Digitalization will make the process more convenient for the voters, more insulated from fraud, more efficient in determining the results and therefore more credible to the public.

Countries like Brazil have digitalized the electoral process over a decade ago way ahead of the US, which is fascinated with mechanizing the process — and by so doing, invites such precipitous and absurd situations as the closely contested presidential elections in the state of Florida in 2000.

What needs to be done with our electoral system apart from creating a digital backbone?

…Raul Lambino, put a lot of hard thinking and hard work proposing reforms in the electoral process……. proposes a number of innovative reforms to straighten up our electoral process.

To begin with… reduce the number of commissioners to 5 from the current 7, always sitting en banc rather than splitting into divisions.

…. that the Comelec be stripped of its judicial powers. Those powers will be transferred to the regional trial courts sitting as special electoral courts during the election period. This way, urgent protests can be attended to immediately all over the country.

….do away with pre-proclamation controversies which is the biggest source of corruption during the electoral period. The special electoral courts will dispense with the controversies immediately and cause proclamation to proceed at a much earlier time.

…strengthening of the Board of Election inspectors in every precinct; a redesign of the ballots to photographs of the candidates and color codes for the parties they belong to; and separate ballots for national, provincial and municipal officials.

Lambino also proposes an entirely new registration of voters to cleanse the present list which he suspects is padded by about two million fictitious voters. This new registration should be accompanied by the issuance of an electronic ID to voters so that they could vote even if the voters’ lists are shuffled, stolen or tampered. That will ensure against systematic disenfranchisement.

In the blogosphere: Ricky Carandang announces he has a new show, and discusses what it was like to spend time with the Speaker of the House. Among other things: Speaker Jose de Venecia has parted ways with former president Ramos and is siding with the President to keep her in office until 2010. He is also inclined to support the Abalos Comelec and to bat for no elections in 2007.

Philippine Commentary says charter change is dead. Go Figure is skeptical about pump priming the economy.

Filipino Mind points to a Malaysian’s defense of nationalism.

The difference between India and the Philippines? Torn & Frayed says: the moustache.

Blog news: My Liberal Times announces the Liberal podcast; and fans of  (or the merely curious about) Hyperwage Theory can find it online at the Street Strategist.

Quote of the Day:

I owe my life to the Constitution. And my adherence to it is a passionate obsession.
Ferdinand E. Marcos
Address, Philconsa anniversary, May 4, 1967. He changed the constitution six years later.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

13 thoughts on “When the president goes, what then?

  1. i think reyes has shown that he can make a dif as dilg sec..an ambassadorship post will be a waist of his skills & a dead-end.
    part of preparing for a parlamentary system of goverment is strenghtening the different departments of goverment.by liberating them of political appointees.

  2. Manolo, talking about surveys. Just a suggestion, insted of just trumpeting their results,let’s also find out the actual questions that where asked.

  3. Partico Diaz I think was balanced & objective. I think his right in saying “let media critize pgma for her mistakes as she saty on & ramos give advise as an elder statesman”
    I think critizising because we want an individual to correct her ways is a more civil attitude.
    The Business Mirror had a point.using ChaCha as a means of getting rid of PGMA is really the wrong attitude.It also shows our penchant of using anything just as we do our democracy,religion, positions in goverment to do things for selfish intensions.
    I think as a Nation we have do do a mamouth effort to distingush our subjective feeling from objective judgments that will affect our nation in the long run.
    I think a Nation can only prosper proportionaly to its citizens sence of responsibility & not exploiting the system for selfish ends.
    It seem to me if Ramos continues insisting on his formula & thinking of himself as some sort of “superman ex”.It is he who will be commeting a blunder.
    It’s amazing how FVR can continue to act as if he is still president.It only shows he is exploiting last years events.In reality his not any different from all those who have demanded for PGMA’s resignation.He is moving only now cuz he wants to project himself as some sort of a leader or whatever but his intensions are not different from all the rest.

  4. when the president goes, babagsak ang bansa natin. wag na nating tanggalin si arroyo, manuel.

    let’s move on na lang.

  5. at wag na rin nating ipakulong ang mga magnanakaw at mga crooks because there will always be others to take their place naman eh. it’s like cutting your nails, kahit na ilang beses mong putulan ang kuko mo, tutubo pa rin sila, so it’s better to keep arroyo na lang.

    because she’s our only hope and savior.

  6. Perhaps the people know best. Perhaps they have more wisdom than we give them credit for. Like God, they may not work in straight lines. Or want to be too hasty in their judgment. They may not even see things as black and white. But they know the score. And they will no longer allow themselves to be used in power plays that end up like a game of musical chairs.

  7. Alex Magno is on to something. Counting machines (like those that caused so much confusion in Florida) and Direct Record Electronic Voting Machines (like those controversial Diebold devices used in Ohio) are open to suspicion. Procedure-wise, the opening of ballot boxes and counting at the precinct level in front of the public should still take place. Paper ballots should still be available in the event of a recount. Any software used should be open source so as to be subject to examination by as many eyeballs as possible. What needs to be speeded up is the transmission of results to the Counting Center. (This may mean having to reconsider the intermediate step of having the Board of Canvassers in the provinces to vet the National positions.) As a commitment to nation-building, the IT and Telecoms Companies should pledge not to seek to profit from the exercise and treat this endeavor as a joint public service just like the Seagames…

  8. John – people still do cut their nails even if they regrow. That being said, people should keep to do the right things like “ikulong ang mga magnanakaw”, etc…

    Carl – many times the people are underestimated by those who governed them but when they speak as one voice the leader is going to fall. But you are right in what you said.

    In chacha, the people do no want the legislators to elect the chief executive (since Arroyo has considerable influence in congress, like junking an impeachment).

  9. John Marzan,

    The country is already “bagsak” under Gloria! There is no other way to describe the nation’s status.

    If you want to give her the benefit of the doubt that she is the duly ‘elected’ President of the Republic and by virtue of that mandate is also Commander in Chief of its armed forces, then you must also accept that she has overall command responsibility with the moral, legal and even judicial power to command and execute the duties of her office – no “ifs”, no “buts”.

    Therefore, you must answer these questions:

    Do you honestly believe it will rise with Arroyo at the helm?

    Do you really believe that Arroyo can change Transperency International’s index rating of the Philippines as 117th out of 168 countries – a rating that puts it among the most corrupt countries in the world?

    Do you believe she can decrease the number of 14 million Filipinos living on a meager 50 pesos daily, the usual cost of a tin of dog food in developed counties?

    Do you think that a fraction of DoLE’s registered OFWs, say, even 10% of the 8 million nannies, nurses, servants and other menial job workers (OFWs) will return to the Philippines between today and next year because they will be better off within the next 3 or 4 years under Gloria’s administration than where they are today?

    Do you honestly, really believe that Gloria is not corrupt? That no member of her immediate family is corrupt? That none of her Malacanang top staffers or Cabinet members (by virtue of her being the Captain of the ship) is tainted with corruption?

    Do you sincerely think that Gloria is the compass that this nation needs to steer it in the right and honorable direction?

    Do you know if Gloria, by command responsibility, can steer the political direction of the country?

    There are other questions related directly to Gloria that need truthful answers but the one question of moral importance that needs to be answered is this: Are you absolutely convinced that Gloria did not steal a vote in the elections, wittingly or unwittingly or by sheer command responsibility through Garci?

    I realize that these are very difficult questions to answer because they depend on a several criteria and on people around her and those away from her but we are faced with a difficult situation and a stubborn and selfish Gloria.

    If Gloria CANNOT make the decision or CANNOT act according to the dictates of moral leadership, galvanize the government into positive, meaningful actions for the Filipino nation, the military included – even if she has to shoot people in the course of leading the nation – with one focus in mind that is to alleviate the Filipino nation of the woes that beset it, we the citizens of the Republic must decide, act and do something about it because the person at the helm CAN NOT!

    There comes a point in time – parrticularly after 5 years and hundreds of national political, financial, legal scandals and “mysteries” after – when the citizens of the Republic must make hard and crucial life and death choices, no matter how painful they may and must muster their moral courage to demand of its elected leader occupying the highest echelon of power: Do or die!

  10. It seems FVR is riding on the latest SWS survey results as a way of presuring PGMA to step down 2007.
    It seems people who rejected ChaCha just a few months ago have discovered that ChaCha can be used to get rid of PGMA.
    If I where to go by what the survey results show.
    It seems to me if we entertain the thought.We will again miss the marke again if we fail to see ChaCha for it’s merits & again “use it” for other reasons.Just like as a Nation we have the tendency to use religion or democracy for selfish ends w/c eventualy waters down what ever good there is in anything.
    I understand that Chacha is very personal to FVR.Probably in his mind PGMA is getting in the way.
    It will be completely wrong however to exploit peopls subjective feelings w/c are also wrong to relate PGMA’s presedency w/ charter change.
    The opposition in the house is a lost cause because they too would only support ChaCha on the condition that PGMA step dowm.Ignoring completely the merits of ChaCha.Is this the kind of opposition that makes a democracy work?
    FVR is not any better.If he continues to exploit peoples sentiment caused by a complete incomprhesion of issues.Personaly I reject this politics of exploitation for a politician to achive his agenda.

  11. a de brux;

    I agree with you 100%!!! Bagsak na sa putikan ang Pinas sa pamumuno ni GMA! And the answers to your questions above are obviously on the negative! WALA ng PAG-ASA pa ang Pinas na umunlad pa while GMA is at the helm. Alam naman natin na puro kasinungalingan lang ang mga statistics ng gobyerno nya! It is TIME for her TO GO! (to HELL if she wants!) Let Filipinos be given the chance to have a BETTER LIFE!!!

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