Plan perfect

Wherever you are tomorrow, you can do one of two things:

1. Simply wear black to protest. You can even make your own protest t-shirt.
2. Breakfast for Democracy.

Going for broke is my column for today. I think the game plan is clear, and it’s achievable for the President:

1. Announce they have 4-5 million signatures by this or next weekend.
2. An obliging Comelec will say it will validate those signatures.
3. An obliging Supreme Court with either reverse its previous ruling or delay ruling on cases until the referendum is won.
4. A referendum on converting the presidential to parliamentary system will be held and won by the Palace.
5. The New interim parliament will convene before the end of this year, possibly as early as July or August.
6. Once in office, it will postpone election on the pretext that it has to convene as a Constituent Assembly for further amendments to the Constitution.
7. Instead of elections next year, there will be another plebiscite on many more Constitutional amendments.

The plan’s being revealed in stages. Sun-Star Bacolod reports, ‘Arroyo likely to cut term before 2007 if parliament pushes’: Coscolluela:

PRESIDENTIAL adviser for Western Visayas Rafael Coscolluela admitted Tuesday that the government is fast-tracking efforts to have a new Constitution ratified before the 2007 elections.

And if this happens, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may cut short her term to become Prime Minister should the parliament form takes place.

This is contrary to House Speaker Jose de Venecia’s earlier pronouncements that Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro would be allowed to retain their powers and serve their full terms until 2010 even after the shift in the form of government.

“The probability is that the President will become the Prime Minister and will have to run for reelection in 2007,” Coscolluela said.

The Speaker is happy with what he’s always wanted: De Venecia: Charter change may be limited to gov’t shift. He seems convinced that the Supreme Court will only accept a people’s initiative if it tackles only one change. And if that’s the case, then the one that appeals most is, if course, shifting to the parliamentary system.

Just to point out the obvious: as one of my previous entries pointed out, Republic Act 6735, the Initiative and Referendum Act signed into law in 1989, was meant to implement the Constitution’s provisions on initiative and referendum. However in the case Defensor vs. Comelec, the Supreme Court ruled that the provisions of the law on a people’s initiative and referendum are deficient (Sassy Lawyer unfortunately, seems unaware of both the law and the Supreme Court decision). Last night, the Supreme Court pointed out that it’s previous decision still stands –but people can bring the question to court:

Gleo Guerra, a director at the court’s public information office, said the Supreme Court’s March 20, 1997 decision on the insufficiency of Republic Act 6735 to allow charter change through people’s initiative still stands.

The high court handed down the decision in the Defensor Santiago v Commission on Elections (COMELEC) case.

“The court specifically said there must be a law to implement the people’s initiative provision in the constitution and unfortunately, RA 6735, the Initiative and Referendum Act of 1989, was held to be inadequate to cover that system of initiative,” she told ANC.

In a separate ABS-CBN interview, Guerra said groups who will push for a people’s initiative should consider the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling.

“If they want to continue the initiative, have Congress pass an enabling law or bring it again [before the] courts and use the arguments of those who gave a dissenting opinion,” Guerra said.

The Palace gamble seems to be, to have the Supreme Court overturn its previous decision: the present Chief Justice and Justice Puno were the dissenters in that decision, and so would be in a position to validate, in a sense, their earlier dissenting opinions (the Justices who voted against the law’s provisions being applicable are all retired; PCIJ has the majority and dissenting opinions online). That is why in my proposal, I invoked the same law the Palace is invoking now; the provisions on resolutions and provincial initiatives remains valid while the provisions on Constitutional amendments by initiative is what’s being debated.

As far as the push for parliamentarism goes, I’ve argued in the past (in public fora, not here in this blog, from what I can recall) that what is being proposed now is nothing new, but rather, is the latest manifestation of a preference as old as the Malolos Constitution itself. Reading the provisions on the legislature will bring up striking similarities to the kind of legislative-executive relationship being proposed now.

Anyway, In the League of Cities of the Philippines, there is an entire page choc full o’ stuff to push forward the administration arguments.

Here is the matrix prepared by the PCIJ comparing the present text of the Constitution to the proposed new wording drafted by the House:


(note: the House continues to further amend the amendments; for example, in the PCIJ matrix, the House draft doesn’t include the latest rewording, which grants the new parliament the latitude to decide when the first real elections under the new Constitution would be).

I’ve blogged in the past on Federalism, and proposed readings on uncameralism versus bicameralism. I’ve noted before, too, that just as we’re toying with parliamentary government, other parliamentary governments are becoming more presidential.

And once more, let’s take the measure of Congress.

In the blogosphere, Newsstand examines yesterday’s entry by Sassy Lawyer, and issues a rejoinder: disagreeing is nothing personal, he says.

Go Figure discusses the findings of a study which tackles reducing corruption: as an example, road projects in Indonesia were tackled: threats of an audit were more effective in lessening corruption than community-based watchdogs.

Ang Kape Ni LaTtex has an interesting entry on whether Filipinos have a bias against entrepreneurship. He points to remarks made by Sen. Manuel Villar, who says one shortcoming of Philippine society is what he describes as the “employee mentality”.

The question of entrepreneurship is at the heart of whether this country can move forward or not: entrepreneurs are the dynamo of the modern-day middle class, just as employees who aspired for comfortable careers within a corporate environment were the bedrock of society in the past. Since the 1970s, we have had a crisis affecting the middle class: crony capitalism and the excesses of the Marcos years gutted the confidence of a generation which saw no way forward under such controlled circumstances. Government offered a safety-valve in terms of officially supporting emigration abroad and the OFW phenomenon.

The problem since then has been the failure of society and the state to at least turn the hard-earned money of Filipinos working and living abroad, into a means for producing and investing capital here at home. At the same time, the traditional ills of big business -what the academe refers to as “rent-seeking,” that is, exchanging support for the powers-that-be for preferential treatment that gives business supporters an unfair advantage, hasn’t been curbed.

Personally, I’ve said I believe Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. would make a good transitional president, because he has that rare thing, genuine entrepreneurial experience. I understand there are those who support Villar for the same reasons.

Bunker Chronicles takes a dim view of RJ Jacinto.

baratillo books [email protected] enjoys how columnists sometimes inspire humor without meaning to.

Mongster’s Nest suggests Holy Week reading: “the politics of underdevelopment.”

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

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