Show me the money

In the end, every political decision begins with, “what’s in it for me?” That is why patronage is usually the lifeblood of politics.

So granting someone may not care about right or wrong -and resents right and wrong being discussed as an irritating example of people being “holier than thou”- and even assuming one insists on avoiding personalities because to focus on the personal is to reveal the complete undesirability of a leader in question. And add, for the sake of argument, that to take sides, which is inevitable in everything from sports, to board decisions, and politics, is undesirable because of some kind of mythical “objectivity. And include, just for the hell of it, the inevitability of having the pot call the kettle black, on the assumption that if you yell it often enough, it becomes the truth- will someone please explain how on earth Charter Change as defined by the administration will make life better? For whom? Tell me how it will increase my salary, lower my taxes, decrease the price of gas and groceries, stop inflation, ensure fewer potholes on the roads, cheaper and more efficient telecoms, improved health care, a more dynamic and responsive bureaucracy, better and more affordable education, improved sanitation, genuine peace and order?

ThirtySomething points to the cost of living. How can giving the President a blank check, politically, improve their lives? She will repeal the law of supply and demand? (an old political joke). OFW Living in Hong Kong bats for entrepreneurship -how can Charter Change help?

Tell me, with the same crew already at the helm for five years, with OFW’s only having begun to express themselves at the ballot box and soon enough, under a purely local system, to be deprived of that hard-won and only partial (at present) right, with a system being pushed forward that would (assuming you are anti-Estrada) turn the country into an iron-clad system for perpetuating a nation composed of San Juan-style bailiwicks, how Charter Change would improve anything politically?

I don’t see how. Not under the scheme being peddled at present. When the Senate, about a decade ago, was poised to pass an anti-dynasty bill (its provisions being: a congressman or mayor or governor can’t be replaced by a wife, however defined, or a child, however defined; a president cannot have any relative within the fourth degree of consaguinity in political office for the duration of their term; and the only offices in which people from the same family can compete for the same position are the Senate, which is national and thus, relatively immune to the lock dynasties have on local politics, and councilors, who are so plentiful it’s also difficult to view them as dynastic preserves), the House advised the Senate to forget it because it would never, ever, even be calendared for deliberation in the House.

And add, further, that proposals from the Senate to legislate that 60% of local income from taxes remain in local government instead of being sent to the national, the House again objected because it would decimate the influence congressmen have over their rivals, the mayors: which would have been as meaningful a step towards freeing the provinces from national control. And yet there are those who would not only abolish the Senate, but merge the executive with the legislative?

If the alternative that is proposed is along the lines of replacing Jojo Binay with Lito Lapid, I mean, come on: granted there are those who dislike Binay but is Lapid any kind of solution? And what does it say about those -the President and her husband among them- who view him as a solution? And you trust her with the economy, placing the country’s business center under Lito Lapid?

I’ll tell you what the pro-amendments arguments boil down to: if you eliminate all checks and balance, if you remove all controls on having a one-party state, if you remove all hindrances to a president-for-life (or prime minister-for-life), if you remove any possible limitation on the will and whims of the incumbent President, and recognizing those assuredly in line to succeed her (and we know who they are), if, in other words, you trust the President, then you can be for Constitutional change. After all, the only assurance you have, are not on paper, or in the system, but dependent on one single thing: that given absolute, unlimited, unquestionable power, Mrs. Arroyo can be trusted -and expected- to use it only for the public good, never for her own, and surely not for the benefit of her political allies. Under the circumstances, it boils down to faith.

So if the Palace asks self-serving questions, as ThirtySomething and Philippine Commentary examine in some depth, they will get self-serving replies. But they aren’t the replies that really answer the question, “show us the money!”

Big Mango, though we disagree on some particulars, on the whole expresses it best: there’s no balance in the current amendments efforts.

Carl Garcia’s right: everything in life boils down to politics. Accept it.

In the blogosphere:

Pinay Nanay and Madame Chiang on circumcision (as one ad I saw posted in a Mercury on Session Road put it, “Summer treat!”). According to Mike Tan at last Saturday’s Ayala Museum Docent Training Program session, circumcision is a holdover from our Islamic past -the Spanish tried to forbid it, but obviously, failed.

Philippine Commentary and Whispers in the Loggia on a prelate’s call to boycott the da Vinci Code movie.

World Famous in the Philippines lobbies for Writely. I agree, it’s awesome. Vote for it.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

47 thoughts on “Show me the money

  1. tama po. in some of the details we may not agree but at the heart of it, in this we agree:

    “will someone please explain how on earth Charter Change as defined by the administration will make life better? For whom? Tell me how it will increase my salary, lower my taxes, decrease the price of gas and groceries, stop inflation, ensure fewer potholes on the roads, cheaper and more efficient telecoms, improved health care, a more dynamic and responsive bureaucracy, better and more affordable education, improved sanitation, genuine peace and order?”

  2. the constitution is just a piece of paper no matter what form it is. At the end of the day it is US who will make or unbreak this country. That piece of paper should at least make it easier for us to work and make not only our life but the lives of others better. Right now only the rich get richer because the law was designed for their perpetual economic domination.

  3. To answer how supporters of Gloria’s Charter Change may think through the above questions, we have to add some level of indirection. (1) Actor or celebrity politicians as head of government have had a bad effect on the economy. (2) The masses tend to vote for actors or celebrities. (3) Under GMA’s Charter, only politicians will be allowed to vote for the head of government. (4) Politicians would hopefully not vote for actor-politicians. So following this line of reasoning, one threat to the economy would have been prevented by Gloria’s Charter Change. Shortsighted and self-serving, but that’s how i think an elite and middle class traumatized by Erap and EDSA 3 would behave. Of course, ignored in all this is the more important question of how to make the political system better able to resolve issues involving the Commons.

  4. I am a great supporter of a parliamentary system of government, especially one based on a strong party system. But the one proposed, is way off and is still even lacking in check and balance than the present system. Imagine a Prime Minister elected by the Members? Instead of a party Leader. Also the charter is too long and too complicated that ii will take forever the courts (the supreme court) to sort our all the challenges and petetions regarding its provisions. And can I show you the Money? I wish. But somebody got me beat to it. From Marcos to the Present..

  5. Based on the theory that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, it’s totally obvious that the present constitution is “broke”. Therefore, it needs to be fixed.

    Certainly, the present constitution hasn’t made life better. It hasn’t increased incomes, lowered taxes, decreased the price of gas and groceries, stopped inflation, ensured fewer potholes on the roads,improved health care, created a more dynamic and responsive bureaucracy, created better and more affordable education, improved sanitation and assured the public of genuine peace and order.

    Everybody knows this. Some people just don’t want to accept it, or be objective about the glaring defects in our present constitution, because they are always looking over their shoulders at GMA. In the end, it’s not really about charter change. It’s about GMA.

  6. cvj,

    you’re right on it.

    And underlying that misdirection is the generally accepted belief that the uneducated (non-degree holders) are not qualified to choose leaders or to lead.

    That’s why Miriam Santiago was not laughed out of the Senate when she proposed a law ( or was it to include a constitutional provision?) requiring a college degree for all candidates for office.

    I, for one, consider common sense a greater asset than education when it comes to politics. Anyway, I hope we never have to choose between a Lito Lapid and a degree holding lunatic like Brenda.

  7. MB, the problem is that people define ‘education’ too narrowly. A few weeks back, in this weblog, i referred to this passage from Thomas Sowell’s ‘Knowledge and Decisions’ which i think applies to many of our fellow countrymen who were lucky enough in life to get a degree and would now like to restrict the vote on that basis:

    “Considering the enormous range of human knowledge, from intimate personal knowledge of specific individuals to the complexities of organizations and the subtleties of feelings, it is remarkable that one speck in this firmament should be the sole determinant of whether someone is considered knowledgeable or ignorant in general. Yet it is a fact of life that an unlettered peasant is considered ignorant, however much he may know about nature and man, and a PhD is never considered ignorant, however barren his mind might be outside his narrow specialty and however little he grasps about human feelings or social complexities.”

    It’s sad that a little knowledge seems to have gone to a lot of our people’s heads in the wrong way.

  8. Show me the money! That was in the Jerry Maguire movie, wasn’t it? Even between friends, that kind of stuff need to be addressed properly. How much more from someone you couldn’t trust?

    As this entry says, those who supports Gloria have faith in her. It’s just that many who doesn’t care, and the ones who do but who doesn’t want to act are counted as GMA supporters by default. So GMA has got the majority of the Filipinos supporting her. Protests against her are therefore not going to work.


    As for the protests in the US, one of the things that helps making the crowds bigger is the availity of jobs. Even the illegals are not afraid to lose their jobs because they can find another one easily.

    In the philippines, that’s not going to happen. People are afraid to lose their jobs. They therefore don’t join protests and despises those who causes traffic disturbance!

  9. Si Lito Lapid ilalaban kay Binay? Talagang binababoy lang nila ang eleksyon dito sa atin. Labanan ng trapo hindi ng talino.

  10. charter change now! while there are still remaining manufacturing cos in the Philippines. No matter who sits there you will always SUSPECT! what’s the point? Do we have the luxury of waiting till the eyeballs of the poor will be taken out of their sockets?

  11. charter change per se isn’t the problem its the kind of “reform” that gloria macapagal-arroyo and her ilk are doing. like i said, i agree with mlq3: “will someone please explain how on earth Charter Change as defined by the administration will make life better? For whom? Tell me how it will increase my salary, lower my taxes, decrease the price of gas and groceries, stop inflation, ensure fewer potholes on the roads, cheaper and more efficient telecoms, improved health care, a more dynamic and responsive bureaucracy, better and more affordable education, improved sanitation, genuine peace and order?”

    a constitution is a piece of paper— but it can be one that defines who we are as a people, what each filipino can hope to aspire to. it should say what are our rights as much as our duty and obligation to each other. and still it isn’t the answer to all our prayers, it won’t be the cure all because at the end of the day, our cure all is right here— in every filipino working in concert.

    that said, there is much to change— we all agree, but the thing is we have to change it properly, in the proper context, one that looks at what is good for filipinos not just today but in the next decade, the next twenty-thirty years. the change defined by the administration won’t and doesn’t and will not benefit filipnos.

    just my two cents.

  12. I have the feeling that those who are calling for charter change by saying “charter change now” instead of saying “i like to try the Parliamentary form of gov’t, etc.” don’t really know what they’re talking about.

    As pointed out here, it’s not the charter change itself that’s going to be good. The kind of and specific changes themselves are!

  13. I wonder if all these exchanges, interesting as they may be, are actually making somebody to act. I don’t mean just post more ideas, but actually do something, like go out in the streets and join a rally or heckle at someone waving an anti-GMA banner.

  14. Is the use of the ‘pre-judicial question’ approach in the impeachment hearing a precedent that is applicable to the proposed constitutional reform ‘proceedings’?

    ‘Pre-judicial’ Questions on Charter Change

    Before the so called ‘great debate on charter change’, let us consider the following ‘pre-judicial questions’:

    Hasn’t Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s and her allies’ intensity of self-interests in the proposed constitutional reforms so poisoned the air of debate such that it has fatally damaged the credibility of any charter change proceedings under GMA’s administration?

    Such that the legitimacy of the resulting charter would be as questionable as the legitimacy of the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?

    And such that this compounded illegitimacy problem would serve as an open invitation for all-out and all-options-open confrontations?

    Is it not, therefore, more prudent and even honorable for our honorable representatives in the House and officials in the LGU’s, who are advocating charter change as a ‘cure all’ remedy, to just say and do, ‘Out muna si Gloria bago cha-cha?

  15. To Jon Mariano,
    Commenting on an issue that you have no adequate background
    may result to misinformation to many people.

    It is not an issue of being able to find a job when terminated
    that made these millions of immigrants to go out and demonstrate. It is a protest against the bill that would make being illegal in the US a felony. Presently, even the police authorities cannot apprehend an illegal alien as long as he is not committing a crime. The hospitals cannot turn
    them down during emergency cases nor surrender them to the police. They are also entitled to welfare services.

    The bill when passed as a law would make illegal aliens criminals. No rights, no benefits, no jobs.

    In the US bordesr, the Hispanics caught “jumping over the
    fence” are merely detained for several hours and then
    sent back across the boundary. Chinese found smuggled
    in vans are just deported back to their countries. No prison time.

    The employers of illegal aliens would be punished too.
    Currently, they are just being made to pay fine, like the

    These demonstrations are likewise supported by big companies like retail establishments, fastfoods and factories.

    And well by politicians who would be benefitting from the
    votes of the Latinos.

    And if I get my analysis right, this is a political issue in the coming elections. Just before election, the wind is going to blow towards the illegal immigrants. Or don’t they
    observe that, amnesty whatever they may call it is oftentimes granted before the votes are cast.

  16. Cat,

    I’m quite aware what the protesters were/are fighting for. That’s why if you look back at my comment, I said “one of the things that helps making the crowds bigger is the availity of jobs…”. I made that comment to compare the situation in the Philippines where workers think not just twice before joining rallies because they’re afraid to lose their jobs.

    You’re right to point out though that the main reason why people are in the streets in big numbers is the “issue” they’re fighting for.

    I lived in the Bay Area for a number of years but it doesn’t make me an expert of your affairs there. It just gave me some idea how it is there.

  17. An impeding ‘JUDICIAL COUP’ is fomenting jitters on both sides of ‘the Great Divide’ — the Charter Change Express.

    Will the Supreme Court ride on it or derail it?

    Which ever way the Supreme Court rules on the Charter Change controversies — the constitutionality of “Sigaw ng Bayan’s” People’s Initiative and on how a Constituent Assembly of the Upper and Lower Houses of Congress should vote, either separately or jointly — will have the effect of a ‘judicial coup’.

    The Supreme Court’s ruling will either rescue the Constitution or rescue the Administration.

  18. Just to add Ca t. No one is so worried of losing a job in the US, than the illegal immigrants. Because they dont have any unemployment benefits at all so unlike their legal counterparts…. They have no unions to turn to and they cannot afford a decent bank loans or they dont have credit cards that can support then temporarily while out of jobs. IMHO, the success of these rallies as far as gathering enough crowds can be attributed to the fact that the primary benefeciary of the resolution of the issue is the protester them selves. Secondary na lang yung mga politicians.

    On the other hand, the common impressions of most people in the Philippines about the so many anti Mrs Arroyo rallies is that they will not benefit much from it than the politicians, organizer and groups that lead the rallies. This should have been the primary focus and the biggest work that should be done first and foremost by the organizers of the oust Mrs Arroyo movements. Not by allienating the peopel who doubts the motives of such movement. Definitely not the way, Mr Manuel Buencamino and his ilk are doing!

  19. mr jon mariano,
    what a thing to say we dont know what are we talking about? who the hell are you anyway? Who understands more? Just your manner of dismissing other points of view betrays your gray matter.

  20. I remember a line from Star Wars Episode II, Obi Wan told Anakin while they were guarding Padme who was then a Senator; “Be careful. She’s a politician, and politicians are not to be trusted.”

    Obi Wan was right.

  21. rego, i don’t like to agree with ManuelBuencamino’s positioning of the middle class as it represents the worst case outcome in mlq3’s own analysis last July (i.e. ‘The Center Must Hold’). However, he does not owe anyone any brownie points, only the truth as he sees it. And if what you say about the ‘common impression of most people in the Philippines’ is true, then the problem resides in those who hold that ‘common impression’. Their own shortsightedness will be our undoing.

  22. Emilie, please prove me wrong then. You can answer MLQ3’s question how Cha-cha as proposed by GMA’s administration can alleviate the common people’s lives.

  23. 03 May 2006

    Just a comment on charter change, Carl, I agree with the theory “IF AINT BROKE WHY FIX???” there is nothing wrong with our consitution, it has been said a lot of times, “ITS NOT THE SYSTEM, ITS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RUNNING IT”. I for one is not tottally against the parlimentary system, but not now, when the legitimacy of gloria is a big question. After gloria or after 2010, then people should be asked and educated properly on the difference between presidential and parliamentary. The problem with our political structure, most of our politicians, after their term, will ask his/her spouse, son nephew or niece to run for their position so as not to lose their hold of the office, Funny thing is, why not implement the anti-dynasty law. In a parliamentary system, as proposed by the pro-gloria, any relative of the politican can run for office from President down to barangay level. In addition, ngayon lang nagkakagulo na ang bayan, because of the illigitimacy of this adminsitration, much more,to entrust to these clowns to choose for me who I want become the prime minister.

    I say, we call a plebiscite immediately but still proceed with the election next year (2007) for them (TONGressmen and senaTONG)to have enough time to study the changes in our system and present these to the people earlier than 2010, so that by 2010, we can still have our election, and for the people to choose their representative not representaTHIEVES in the parliament.

    However, this could only be done with the will of the people, not by the will of the selected few.

    Finally, in order for us to move forward, gloria, noli “kayabang” de castro, YODA and the rest to resign first from their post, esp the COMELEC and pave the way for a snap election.


  24. Just wondering, does the US have enough prison space where to put all the million illegal immigrants? And is it all too willing to feed and house millions of them while their cases are being heard? Plus the legal assistance that must be provided to those who could not afford lawyers. Make your computations and you would not be surprised if the US government suddenly goes retreating.

  25. ricelander,

    I don’t believe much that the biggest concern is the lack of prison space. I believe if the US government will be giving in to these protesters, it will more on teh economic and the internal security impact. Here in New York City alone it would be very difficult for the city to operate without the illegal workers and laborers. I can see restaurant, construction projects, and home renovation stoppage if they decide to clampdown on elligal immigrants. That is why, Mayor Bloomberg is very supportive of the rallies.

    But of course, you’re right on the cost that would be entailed on sedning back home these elligal immigrants. One paper estimated the palnes tickets alone to cost at least $10 miilion….


    I dont think the apathy of these people to the oust Mrs Arroyo movement is shortsightedness. But you are free to believe what you want to believe. Just dont shove shove it in our throats.

    Mr buencamino can very well lambast the middle class. But the group people that is attacking has all the right to defend themselves. Hindi naman pwedeng sya lang mag salita eh. All i am saying is that he has his cause to promote and the peopel has all the right to reject his causes. He can articulate very well his beliefs, opinions and convictions but there is no need to resort to name calling, insults and other negative attitude towards the people who is does n’t agree with him. And even worst is to claim his opinion as solid facts. Because they are not!

  26. I remember an argument that our president is our last best hope, and that the protests went pffft because, among others, there’s simply no alternative. In other words, Kabayang Noli is not an alternative.

    Now, they are saying that Lito Lapid is an alternative to Mayor Binay. Tsk tsk tsk.

  27. I personally think that charter change per se itself is not the problematic issue. It is the contents of the proposed revisions that are unacceptable especially some of the transitory provisions. I tend to agree with the suggestion of some that GMA is not really that serious about charter change. Otherwise, why try to manipulate the concom’s proposals in such a blatant manner.

    If a true parliamentary system is adopted, GMA faces two scenarios. One is that she remains head of state but her powers are taken away or substantially clipped. She will remain in office for the time being but will be politically castrated. In the second scenario, she tries to become prime minister and tries to stay politically on top. However, a prime minister depends on his/her colleagues in parliament for support. Given her personality and the fact that there are prominent potential rivals for the PM’s post, that is not a certainty. Even assuming she gets the post, there is no assurance that she could stay for long. A president, as head of state, stands above the crowd, with a fixed term of office. A prime minister is one of the crowd although first among them and has no fixed term. Having brought herself down to the same level as the other parliamentarians, she is now vulnerable and less intimidating. I don’t think either scenario would be appealing to GMA. Hence, the perceived need for those transitory provisions.

  28. To JM,
    This is not a BayArea problem. This is more of a problem of
    states which can be accessed thru the borders.

    The comparison is still wrong since activisim here in the
    States is a legitimate hourly job.

    The crowd that you may see in the streets advocating for some
    issues may be paid by an organization which receives funding
    from undisclosed and or disclosed sources.

    NO. Dito transparent lang. Diyan, nakatago lang.

    Do I believe that some of our activists/radicals are
    motivated by patriotic goals?

    I do not mean the “hakot/toothless protesters to go”

    What I believe in the Filipinos is thath if there is really a genuine cause to go out of the streets, no employers could hold them down.

    So far, these people are observing and yawning.


  29. jinx:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you on the validity of the statement: “ITS NOT THE SYSTEM, ITS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE RUNNING IT”. I say there is something wrong with BOTH. It is quite unfortunate that there is currently a bunch of lawless thugs now running the gov’t. However, I cannot agree that the system had nothing to do with it. If this had occurred only once, perhaps, I could agree but that is not the case here. Our presidential system has now broken down three times. In 1972, under Marcos, in 2001 under Erap and now under GMA. This is an indication of a fundamental flaw(s) in the design of the system. A political system shapes and constrains our choice; it rewards certain behaviors and penalizes others. The presidential system is interacting with our political culture to yield the results we now see. However, it is not only the culture influencing the system, it is also the system influencing the culture. Political scientists, having studied this issue for a very long time now, have generally concluded this to be the case: institutions do matter.

    If we look across the Pacific Ocean, we can observe what is happening in Latin America. We share a common Hispanic cultural influence and a common presidential system. We can see that they too have had numerous socio-political problems and numerous breakdowns in democratic governance. I say: this cannot be coincidence. It looks like the combination of culture and the presidential system in our and their cases, is proving particularly toxic.

    I agree with you, that, in order to move on, the people in this administration and the COMELEC have to go. Then we can have new elections to choose legitimate leaders. I only hope that when the new leaders take office, they think hard about what went wrong and make the necessary constitutional and legal changes. If we retain the current system, I’m afraid we will be condemned to repeating history again.

  30. Again, just a suggestion, A True parliamentary system, pattern the likes of my country (Canada), australia, new zealand and even Trinidad and Tobago will likely help fix the system of governance over in the Philippines. My other suggestion is to give emphasis to the JUSTICE System. The very reason why our politicians, public servants and the well-to-do citizenz can get away from doing their “monkey business” because it is well known all over that justice can be bought for a price back there. Proove me wrong on this one..

  31. Rego, MB’s key message (which i very much like to dispute if only the facts supported me) is similar to Austero’s – leave the middle class to do what it does best and stop expecting it to join the current political fray. It’s actually the exact opposite of ‘shoving it down your throats’. I would have thought that having someone from the opposition actually saying this would have been welcomed as a reaffirmation of the silent revolutionaries’ working philosophy. That its tone is less self-congratulatory to the middle class than Bong Austero’s should be incidental.

    RoelM, i think you’re right that system and culture influence each other. Interesting though that in Latin America, the presidential system seems nowadays to be yielding leaders who come from, or have allegiance to, the ‘masses’. The trend started with Erap’s contemporary, Hugo Chavez. This article, back in February talked about this wave of electoral revolutions:

    Pity that Erap could have laid claim to being at the leading edge of this historical tide, if only he were true to his slogans.

    If your analysis about the affinity between the Latin American and Philippine cultural and political systems is correct, then we can reasonably conclude that a Presidential system would have a higher probability of delivering a ‘man of the people’. The prime-ministership, in contrast, would go to the person who can afford to buy 200+ members of parliament.

  32. Jon,

    The Cory constitution is not in tangent with economic realities which shows how short sighted the creators were and today they walk around and talk and talk as if their errors are not glaring enough. Take all economic provisions which were closed to Phil nationals only ..those who have money are the only ones who benefited from such provision while on the overall the citizenry in general have to contend with scrap from these oligarchs. Foreign capital is subjected to so much maze just to conduct business and skirt all these legal hurdle and guess what who gets to become richer eh di the same same rich people and politicians! Sayang…we are missing the boat again specially now that the bull is running in ASIA. If we continue to bahave this way then we will just bow to the politicians forever and Filipinos will continue to seek jobs abroad because the CAPITAL is there!

  33. Thank you Emilie. Are the changes that you want, included in the changes that the Arroyo admin wants?

    From where I stand, the selling point is not the ones you mentioned. What they’re selling is the change in the form of government, etc.

    I for one (and many others) are not against Charter-change per se. I don’t want the way it is being done, and the timing too. The people should know what is being peddled, the changes have to be explained why they’re good, and how the people are going to benefit.

    Don’t you agree that the charter change is being done so fast? Don’t you agree that the changes do not guarantee success? We cannot change the constitution by trial and error!

    But it is better for us to debate on these specifics, than only on yes or no for cha-cha.

  34. Perhaps to be fair those for charter change as well as those against charter change don’t know what they are talking about.
    Perhaps, those for charter change would like to know more but maybe those against charter change are just muddling-up the issues.
    How complicated can it be that forums & venues for an open discussion in a civil manner be made?
    We can’t even seem to arrive to a point of being able to discuss matters openly w/o those against charter change making all sorts of accusations.
    It seems those against charter change are doing so because they are not capable of separating issues from personalities.
    Those saying “not now” must be dreaming.
    As if they are saying anyone who comes after GMA will be acceptable, as if they already know who ever that personality of imagination may be.
    Mike Velarda is also scared of chater change because he will not be able to use the voting influence of his “sunodsunuran” followers.
    Velarda is no different fron Senators who are fighting tooth & nail for their survival.
    What is Velarde’s business opposing charter change when he is in the “religion racket?

  35. cvj,

    if that was the main message of mr buencamino, can he not deliver that message effectively without resorting to name calling and insults? if he doesn’t agree with Mr doronilla’s opinion, he should ngeatively comment on his brain cells rather done just effectively refute the said opinion? and he is trying very hard to be an opinion writer at that! ano na kaya kung naging opinion writer na sya on a widely circulated paper like Inq?. MLQ3 doesn’t do that with his fellow opinion writers…napaka lowlife nya ah! he needs to grow up!!!!

  36. cvj:

    I don’t know whether recent developments in Latin America are going to be good or bad for the people there; we’ll just have to wait and see. As to “man of the people”, there were probably many such men arising in parliamentary systems too except that in those systems, they tended to be organization men. In those systems, these people would probably tend to be part of a movement. In presidential systems, such “men of the people” would probably more often stand-out since a presidential system tends to accentuate the “cult of personality”. The problem with such a phenomenon is that often, such candidates or presidents are often literally alone. They have no true party to back them up. They often have minimal legislative support. How then can they can get their program of gov’t enacted? This situation sets up the stage for a potentially catastrophic confrontation between president and legislature. It would be preferable for such phenomena to be expressed in an organized manner thru political parties and mass movements. This way, policies and programs can be emphasized rather than personalities. This way also reduces of the danger of a populist leader becoming an autocrat.

  37. RoelM, whether the politics of a country is based on personalities or programs is more a matter of culture and circumstance than the mechanics of executive-legislative selection and interaction. Parliamentary Systems can produce a Berlusconi or a Thaksin who rely on their charisma (and personal wealth) as much as their party platform. Observing what is happening in Latin America today, what we see are Presidential systems that have produced leaders who ran on the basis of clearly defined programs and policies (rather than empty slogans) which are now being implemented. Although i agree with you that the jury is out on whether their programs will finally bring social justice without sacrificing prosperity for these countries, it is clear that the programs *do* exist and that these leaders represent something more than ‘cults of personality’. In the Philippine context, given the current cast of characters, a parliamentary set-up is more likely to yield a ‘boss’ to whom the legislators owe their personal allegiance rather than Switzerland-type citizen-politicians who are chosen based on a set of policy options.

    Your observation that a Presidential system can result in legislative gridlock is fair, although the current gridlock arises more out of questions of Presidential legitimacy. However, it conflicts with your concern that such a system is more likely to yield an autocrat. You can have gridlock or you can have an autocrat, but not both at the same time. The contention that a parliamentary system is better at preventing the rise of autocrats is contradicted by the fact that the current occupant of Malacanang, a certified Marcos-wanabee, is pushing for such a system.

  38. cvj:
    I agree with you that culture has more to do with whether politics will be personality or program-based. In our case, there is no question it is more personality-based. A question, can be raised, however, whether the political system aggravates or mitigates this feature of our political culture. A presidential system tends to aggravate our personality-orientedness but singling out a leader, putting him far above all the rest and placing the bulk of political responsibility on him. There is a tendency to look for a messiah, so to speak. A parliamentary system tends to mitigate the politics of personality by encouraging collegial responsibility and party cohesion. A Thaksin and a Berlusconi do arise but they are not typical. Comparing the US, for example, with Canada and Australia, we see that US politics is much more personality-oriented given that they were derived from a similar British cultural rootstock.

    I must agree with you that the Latin American dev’ts do show leaders with relatively clear political objectives. I was actually speaking rather generally and abstractly in my previous post. A political system only tends to produce certain outcomes but there are no guarantees, of course. However, there is still an unhealthy exaltation here of a single leader here but burdened with all manner of expectations and subject to the temptations of considering himself the sole/preeminent tribune of the people. When I mentioned the gridlock-autocrat issue, I was referring to the thesis of Juan Linz and Arturo Valenzuela concerning the causes of breaksdowns in democratic governance in Latin America. To paraphrase it crudely, because of separate elections for the president and congress, they are often of opposed partisan orientation. The president has considerable difficulty in getting his program passed and sometimes, acts unilaterally, relying on executive decrees and acts and even resorts to coup d’etats against his opponents. I find this plausible but as it is an empirical matter, it could be found wrong, of course.

    Some surveys of democratic gov’t have indicated that parliamentary systems tend to survive more than presidential systems as democracies. It is significant that the Marcos wannabe and Marcos himself, did not want a pure parliamentary system. They wanted a parliamentary system with transitory provisions specifying that they retained the powers of the presidency even after the change of form of gov’t. They wanted to have presidential privileges (like irremovability except under impeachment) even under a parliamentary gov’t. I suspect that becoming merely prime minister would leave them too vulnerable to their would-be colleagues.

  39. RoelM, i agree with you on the dangers of looking for and relying on a messiah, a tendency that cuts across Filipino class boundaries and one which a presidential system would tend to aggravate. While a parliamentary environment is less conducive to aspiring saviors, in a personality oriented culture such as the Philippines, it would, i’m afraid, possess the collegial responsibility and party cohesion of the Mafia, headed by a boss who has all the deficiencies and none of the redeeming qualities of a Thaksin or even a Berlusconi.

    Under the Presidential system, the risk lies in our people being taken in by a charismatic politician’s demagoguery. On the other hand, in a parliamentary set-up, the risk comes from the members of parliament turning their back on those who elected them and looking out for their personal or class interests. Given this choice between the people and the politicians, i would still choose to rely on the judgment of the people.

    Thanks for your clarification on the ‘gridlock-autocrat’ issue. I agree that the scenario of Valenzuela and Linz is indeed plausible and has in fact happened. It is with no small amount of irony that in the case of the Philippines, the vehicle for such a ‘gridlock-autocrat’ scenario being carried out is a proposed shift to a parliamentary system.

    Your suspicions on why Marcos (and now Arroyo) prefer a hybrid presidential-parliamentary arrangement because of their vulnerability under a pure parliamentary one is, i believe, accurate.

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