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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Manuel L. Quezon III.

51 thoughts on “Abolish councilor positions

  1. Why doesn’t PDI bring back Dean Jorge Bocobo?

    He was way ahead of his time in his criticism of Arroyo and Edsa dos in 2003-2004. (I believe these are the 2 main reasons why he was not asked to come back by PDI).

    Now PDI has come around and is more critical of the Arroyo admin. Dean was right all along.

    Bring Dean Back!

    Another great pick for PDI would be to sign Aussie blogger Richard Fernandez. Can you make it happen, kuya Manuel?

    supporters of the pro-arroyo MST like to brag about signing “bigtime” bloggers like Sassy and Bong.

    Ano pang mas lalaki sa kanila kundi si Wretchard, hindi ba? Pero wag na si Michelle Malkin, hokay?

  2. john, you’d have to ask dean. my impression was, he wasn’t happy with some details of the pdi columnist’s contract, so he didn’t sign on as columnist.

    i don’t know if pdi has space for new columnists. maybe if bel cunanan quit. and i don’t know if the editors feel about justice cruz as say, loran kalaw-tirol does.

  3. The comments section in Carlos’s blog has a potential for ‘sectarian violence’ or at least some illogical Jesuit-Ateneo bashing. 😀

  4. how would fr. reuter’s statements anger filipinos, when most pinoys don’t even know about it?


    hindi pa siya kino-cover ng local media.

  5. re: recruitment of nurses
    i can’t help but smile when i read that pimentel justified the action of the US Senator and condemned Defensor. politician talaga.

    i’ve read about this case and can’t help but sigh for the failure of these nurses to know who their employers are. Some commented that they did not bother to read the contract. Beucause if they did, the recruitment agency in the Phils. is not their employer and can never be their employer.

    When nurses are brought here to work, they are already green card holders because of the petition filed of their US employer
    which capacity to do the sponsoring is scrutinized by the INS.

    There is no more working visa for nurses since they are no longer subject to the labor accreditation and therefore their hiring is not subjected to the limited quota set by the US Dept. of Labor for other professionals.

    Why, i smiled when pimentel justified the US senator of the plight of the nurses because the shortchanging is committed by the US employer.

    1. For a US nursing recruitment agency to petition a nurse from abroad, there should be a guarantee of weekly working 40 hours
    and therefore they are entitled to benefits as mentioned.
    Some depositions made by nurses said that they do not work for 40 hours. If it is deliberate, then the employer really want to avoid paying the benefits. But this can still be justified by the employer for various reasons.

    When nurses are deployed to facilities,( newcomers are mostly placed in skilled or convalescent or nursing homes), that is already a part of a training for them.

    Since most of these nurses are doctors, they were looking for the acute care work environment, where the action is,where the emergency cases are attended to 24 hours.

    The recruitment agency would not be able to place them there if their clients are mostly nursing homes. Thus, I go back to their reading of the employment contract but then again, who would if you are already handed the passport with your immigrant visa.

    Should they have known that the clients are nursing homes, they should expect that pay rates are not as high as those of the acute hospitals.It is not what must have been promised but it is not illegal here.

    Bottomline, read contracts to know what is promised as against what is provided them and for these nurses who are already green cardholders, no one can restrict them from getting another job since they do not require employment authorization and or restricted to work in one specific employee.

  6. One sin of expressing his opinion and he is already criticized to eternal damnation by people who must have not lifted a finger to help the fellow kababayans. Where were these people when that Filipino woman was treated shabbily by Australian authorities?

    What did these vigilant Filipinos did to help expose the plight of the young children sharing prison cells with the hardened criminals?

    For an opinion that he is entitled to, what right do some people have to cause hate against a person just because some people hate Americans. duh.

  7. I don’t like a two party system. As a matter of fact, I think elected officials should not belong to any political party. They should serve the interest of the people rather than their party.

    The only party that’s worthwhile is one with lots of food, booze, drugs, music and beautiful men and women.

  8. mb,
    did i mention to you that i used to co-own a nursing registry. do i
    have to spell out to you how nurses’ papers are processed?

    that nurses’ immigrant visa are employment based type of getting a green card. therefore there is a paper that they sign who really is petitioning them.

    I’ve followed this case and many nurses said they do not even know who their employer is.

  9. cathcath, mr. reuter has a right to his opinion, even if it’s wrong. and people have a right to criticize him if they strongly disagree with his opinions.

  10. Rather than going back to the two-party system, i believe we should increase the proportion of party-list representatives for the lower house to 100% and implement bloc voting. That would allow issues, instead of personalities, to find a home in the legislature. For the Upper House, i like the idea of the provincial governors and city mayors sitting concurrently as ‘Senators’. This kills many birds with one stone. Let’s abolish elections for a vice-president and let the president-elect just nominate a vice-president among the governors or city mayors to be approved by the legislature. For the election of President and Provincial Governor/City Mayor-Senators, there should always be a run-off to ensure a majority decision. This will provide stability in place of an artificial two-party system.

  11. cat,

    I am aware that you know something about the nursing business but did you read the contract of these particular complainants?

    You said “Bottom line read contract..” Well did you? Before you started lecturing the complainants through this blog?

  12. mb,
    i am lecturing? i am asking why they do not know who their employer is because if they did, they would not be surprised to know that it is that nursing registry in New York.

    Do I have to ask you if you read your employment contract if you tell me that you are surprised to know who your employer is?

    Common sense lang yan di ba?

  13. In any case, I don’t think a two-party system is even doable. What about freedom of association and political belief and all that? A semblance of a two-party system is evolved when there are two great opposing philosophies(?) about how government should be run – for instance liberal and conservative. The reason we don’t have these two opposing philosophies is because our politicians all agree to be populist – regardless of the consequences. As a result, government policies are a riotous mix of liberal and conservative tracts that, often enough, contradict each other philosophically, ultimately cancelling out ech others’ effects. And if there is no clear idea of how government is to be run, we end up with the inept kind of ad hoc governance we are stuck with now. So, two-party? Mahirap siguro mangyari yan, mga bossing. Mas maganda siguro kung merong mga intelektwal – katulad na rin siguro ni Manolo – na maglalakas loob na mag-articulate ng mga iba’t ibang atake sa problema ng governance. When our parties have well-articulated philosophies, the liberals will naturally gravitate towards each other, and so will the conservatives, allowing the eventual formation of two great blocs of parties (altho not necessarily a coalition) whose members agree with each other on first principles.

    or am i just being a little too john lennon?

  14. A multi[arty system, specially sectoral representation, is a recognition of the fact that no one or two political parties can possibly represent all sectors of society. Better to vote for individuals . Parties always end up becoming lobby groups anyway. Besides majority rule works best when individuals agree on certain issues rather than when representatives vote along party lines.

  15. I mostly agree with Antonio and MB. The reality that’s going against a two-party system is that there is more than one way to divide political philosophies. Even ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are too coarse grained to represent alternative principles of governance and are showing signs of becoming obsolete as political categories. It’s better for parties like the Liberal Party, NPC, Bayan Muna to coalesce or subdivide according to the issue of the day. Anyway, that’s what is happening now.

    Strait-jacketing into two parties would not be meaningful in an ideological sense. The only advantage of a two-party system, which makes it still worth considering, is that it facilitates more orderly competition using mechanics similar to that found in reality TV shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Apprentice’. If we drop the fiction of two parties being containers of ideas and acknowledge that they are there for convenience, then that sort of political arrangement can be debated at that level.

    I differ with MB though in that i think the electorate, at some level, should still make decisions in terms of parties, although i recognize that a thin line separates parties from lobby groups. That’s why i think a good balance would be to vote in terms of parties in the Lower House, and in terms of individuals for the Upper House.

  16. I am for multiparty system, better yet, no party system. My loyalty is to my country and not to any party. For now, most of my candidates are republicans but in some intances, i vote for democrats. it all depends on the candidate, his own principles and where he really stands. I don’t really like politicinas who are blinded with the party’s platform. each candidate should have his wown stand on each individual issue at hand. kaya ako independent….kung sino ang may mabuting plataforma, siyang dapat manalo, walang kinalaman ang partido.

  17. cat,

    Yes Cat I jow my employer and I also know :
    1.you know about nurse’s registry;
    2. you have common sense;
    3. and you didn’t read the contract of the nurses that you commented on at great length.

  18. cat,

    Yes Cat I know my employer and I also know :
    1.you know about nurse’s registry;
    2. you have common sense;
    3. and you didn’t read the contract of the nurses that you commented on at great length.

  19. manuel buencamino said: I don’t like a two party system. As a matter of fact, I think elected officials should not belong to any political party. They should serve the interest of the people rather than their party.

    I said:
    They both work just as well. Our Local political scene here are partyless (not allowed to do the “party”) like city council and municipal council and they all work just as well as our party system of governance in the Provincial and Federal level. So I’ll say it’s the not Party or the Absense of it. It’s the People ‘St-p-d’. I too prefer the one with lot of booz and some grass since it is somewhat “legal” in this part of the world.

  20. In regards to nurse Jacinto Case, the same scenario could had happened to my nephew three years ago. All was signed and ready, but the agency didn’t have the money for the ticket and other expense. So we brought our nephew on our own and luckily the employer is a first rate hospital and re-imburse us all the expense. Now he stayed in the same hospital, because it employed his wife who he sponsored and offered him a nice ‘bonus’ for extension. So, I think it is always better to check or do a little pre-investigation of the Employing health care institution as pre-caution, because the placement agencies cannot be trusted to do these things.

  21. mb,
    therefore you know there’s something wrong if these nurses do not know who their employer is and bottomline of my comment is READ THE CONTRACT FIRST BEFORE YOU SIGN.

  22. Not all contracts are the same. But if the nurses are suing their employer for breach of contract, what does it mean? Common sense says what the nurses signed in the contract are not being followed. They must have read it but not very well to know who their employer is. It’s a little absurd though. The documents they signed to process their immigrant visas (two years ago, they might have still used the working visa?), the petitioner’s name should have been there.

    Also, in most of theses contracts, there is a time element within which the new hires cannot leave the petitioner. If they do, they have to repay some amount…Cat, can you enlighten us on this?

  23. mlq3, cvj,

    “abolish the city and municipal councilors,” ??

    regressive, on the contrary government devolution has empowered local legislature — regional, district, city down to barangays — making the lower house of congress less and less relevant. The next logical and rational stage must be the devolution of the lower house. Regional/provincial representative can congregate in congress only as needed to pass bills of national importance.

    The lower house of congress as it is now has lost its relevance. There is a redundancy of local bills. If we abolish the lower house the councilors can take over its legislatve functions more effectively, efficiently and less costly.

    The political crisis calls for clear cut reforms to remove primary sources of corruption.

    Abolish the lower house or we perish.

    A true people’s initiative should rally and mobilize the people to save the republic from the tyrannical majority in Batasan.

    Abolish the lower house and put in place a system where representatives are more accountable to the people.

  24. A true people’s initiative should rally and mobilize the people to save the republic from the tyrannical majority in Batasan. Abolish the lower house and put in place a system where representatives are more accountable to the people.

    Baby. Bathwater.
    The voters can do something about the tyrannical majority without abolishing the lower house. It is the system that factors in a candidate’s financial capability in his or her eligibility to run that’s part of the blame.

    If we’re talking radical changes, I would propose a government-funded election and campaign. Funded by a carefully sudited ‘election tax’ if you will from we the people for Comelec. Candidates are forbidden to spend even a single centavo or face disqualification. Comelec spends for posters and TV, print, and radio spots introducing candidates. Comelec sponsors debates that the candidates MUST attend or else be disqualified. Get money out of the equation and maybe we’ll get somewhere.

  25. Juanmakabayan, i think your idea has merit. The councilors of the towns and cities can elect among themselves a representative to the new lower house. This is similar in model to that of the People’s Republic of China where the ‘People’s Congress’ meets to elect the 300 members of the ‘Central Committee’ to tackle matters of national import. (JV Bautista of Sanlakas proposed a similar idea two decades back and i have come to see its merit, as long as this body stops short of electing a ‘Politburo’.) As you pointed out, this would be in keeping with the clamor for devolution.

    Those who fear that the above introduces too radical a change can fall back on the ‘Senate’ (composed of governors and city mayors) to act as a check. ‘Party-less’ or ‘party-list’ or a combination of both is needed to break the stranglehold of the trapos.

    Whatever system is adopted, i think Jeg’s suggestion (which echoes Carl’s observation in a previous post) hits the nail on the head. We have to follow and expose the existing election campaign money trail and replace it with a more transparent, and most likely, taxpayer funded one. As far as taxes go, that would be a wise investment for our future.

  26. All these discussions about the party system is fine. But based on the Philippine experience so far, our politicians don’t really belong to any party but to themselves. They join the party that best serves their personal interests. How explain the flagrant turncoatism?

    Whether we have a two-party or multi-party system, everything depends ultimately on the quality of our politicians. Or, I should say, the people we vote into office.

  27. Juan Makabayan,

    My understanding is that Lito Banayo is proposing the abolition of the position of municipal councilor, but not the abolition of the municipal board. The municipal board would be composed of barangay captains. The provincial board would be composed of town mayors, instead of electing a separate set of provincial board members. Perhaps, the provincial governors should compose the lower house, why not/
    but all this can only be possible under a parliamentary system where the executive and legislative functions are fused together.

  28. Shaman of Malilipot, re: your observation at 4:22pm, this is the reason why i suggested at 12:01am that the Lower House should be made up of 100% Party List representatives. This would mean that they cannot switch parties as the office they hold is tied to the party.

  29. cjv, juan, shaman, et al.:

    do you think it would be worth our while to set up a wiki on the proposals we’re discussing?

  30. Jon Mariano,
    pls allow me to answer your query for Ca t about the condition of the nurse’s contract re: petetioner, usually the standard contract specify the lenght of Two years commitment (reference my own nephew) and depending on the employer an exptension is an option. The Green Card can be obtained by filing up the proper paper upon entry in the U.S. and the family members included by the applicant (nurse) during his/her intervies with U.S. embassy (spouse and children) can follow anytime as Green Card immigrants status. This is from the contract of my nephew and his wife and daughter who are now in Philly and doing just fine. After two years, he was offered on extension by the same hospital with a handsome bonus and his wife is now employed by the same hospital on a part time basis because the Baby is still only 3 years old and still need a lot of parenting. Maybe C at can clarify us further because she (is she?) from accross the border. thanks Jon..

  31. shaman,
    thanks, but I wasn’t just reacting to Banayo’s idea. 2003 I had shared at a forum about a “dynamic multi-level legislative system”, without giving details. Some insightful concepts are mentioned in different posts above, all contributng to form a system that is, refreshingly, a harmonious dynamic whole.

  32. I always believe that no matter what system of Democratic Governance the Filipino people choose now or in the future, all the other components such as the election process should be looked at very carefully and if a radical reform needed to make the Governance effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people then let the process begins. In Postigo Luna Comelec Ako I posted a summary of Election Financing, Limits on contribution, Limits On Election Expenditures and enforcement of the all the Election laws by a Truly Independent Body Headed by JP Kingsley, who for so many years now, working on the background has transformed the Institution one of the Most efficient and transparent Electoral body we ever had. And never once in his long public career has he been in the headline on any issue, except for a job well done every election and all thru the year. Check this site if you want or go and check the Man himself. Jean Pierre Kingsley


    thank you.

  33. mlq3,

    btw, the call to “abolish the lower house” as I’ve posted above was born out of frustration about the on-going ‘conass’ railroad. “devolving the lower house” and “streamling the legislative system” are clearer, more concrete proposals for reforming the legislature. “abolish” evokes antagonism, needlessly.

    A couple of years back, I just happened to ‘see clearly’ the growing irrelevance of a bloated house of representatives in a devolved system of government. I think the congressmen saw what was developing, they realize their increasing irrelevance if political reforms — devolution and streamlining — are allowed to run its due course. It is terribly ironic that the branch due for pruning takes the axe to cut the trunk instead and graft onto the decaying branch a new trunk! Understandable, the dinasours are fighting extinction.

    Pruning was not done in time. Now, the wayward branch has grown wild.
    Which must awaken the people, Citizens, to the seasonality of change — the season for an honest-to-goodness revolution.

    Can Vision rally the people in lieu of a visionary-revolutionary leader? Can a vision inspire, a roadmap move, a blue-print motivate and a viable political agenda galvanize the people?

  34. They both work just as well. Our Local political scene here are partyless (not allowed to do the “party”) like city council and municipal council and they all work just as well as our party system of governance in the Provincial and Federal level. So I’ll say it’s the not Party or the Absense of it. It’s the People ‘St-p-d’. I too prefer the one with lot of booz and some grass since it is somewhat “legal” in this part of the world.

    vic said this on September 6th, 2006 at 8:22 am


    I agree, its really the people….

    I have a negative feeling about this particular trend in our country with this so many abolition moves and changes. Are we really that dynamic? or we just have limited patientce to make anything work ?

  35. Thanks Vic. I’m quite disappointed at Cat not answering questions…, but this is the internet and nobody can ask/force anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. How about courtesy? How about saying, “I don’t know”?

  36. Jon,
    baka naman hinid pa nababasa ni cat yung tanong mo. kasi kung papansinin mo wlang ng follow up post si Ca t after your questions. Tapos andaming ng ng post so pwedeng natabunan na yung question mo…..

    la lang ….just trying to calm myself down while watching the very exciting Federer-Blake match at the US open tennis quarterfinals. Federer won

  37. Cat,
    It is of no issue if the nurses read their contracts, the contracts were substituted by Sentosa / Bent Philipson upon their arrival in New York. Example Elmer Jacinto’s contract petitioner is New Franklin Rehabilitation and Care Center but he was made to work in Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation Center, a different entity. This is aside from the fact that they were extremely overworked (1 nurse to 58 patients and underpaid ($12/hour rather than the promised $25-30).

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