Noted blogger Manuel L Quezon III (MLQ3) takes a POSITION on Charter Change!

The above title notwithstanding, there is a bigger lesson that I will go into towards the end of this blog entry. But for now, this morning’s brief engagement with one of our society’s most esteemed leaders in the field of scholarly blogging makes for a case study of the power of asking the right questions.

The following is the transcript of a comment made on The Noted One‘s blog article “Published Platforms” that clarifies MLQ3’s response to numerous calls to be a bit clearer on the position he takes on Charter Change published as a comment there on Monday, 28th Dec 2009 at 1:30 pm:

========== start of excerpt

Thanks for acquiescing MLQ3 [to mine and the persistent queries of a few here who simply seek a bit more clarity on a ideas you’ve tabled] and your usual patience with my usual bluntness.

It may take some time to go over those links [to your extensive body of work that] you provided (you might consider reducing the number of widgets on your site as it kinda crawls most times or simply fails to load), but having all of the relevant [links] in one spot helps.

For now, I did notice though that much of what you write in your [Mon, 28th Dec 2009 1:30 pm] comment seems to incline towards highlighting why changing [in order to progress] is too hard.

Well, sir, real change (the kind Pinoy society really needs) is always hard.

Just because a concept or idea seems unpalatable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. It is easy to come up with millions of reasons not to do something when one is not up to the task to see that something through. But to be truly emboldened to undertake something groundbreaking, it takes a leader with a vision. The Philippines cannot be run by consensus because there are simply too many “experts” with loud voices with lots of “agendas” at stake.

Despite mounds of evidence that what we call “consensus”, “public opinion”, and even “the people’s mandate” (the kind of stuff that gives people like Abe Margallo a hard-on) have ZERO track records of leading our society down the path in which absolute prosperity can be seen as even a remote possibility, we continue to foolishly defer to such nebulous ideals.

Time and again, the Filipino public has shown that their idea of participating in our “democracy” does not go beyond evaluating personalities. As you yourself point out, all the deals have already been made in the background and the “election” that everyone looks forward to in 2010 (in the same way kids lie on their beds awake on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus) is just a quaint (but ridiculously disruptive) ritual to keep the masses feeling “engaged” and “consulted” when an “anointed” bozo takes his seat in Malacanang.

Deference to the “people’s mandate” is just a cop out for people who lack real vision whether they be bloggers or politicians. Noynoy himself in many instances takes the position that he is there to “serve the people’s mandate” yet perverts that concept into one that excuses him from the whole point of being a leader, which is to implement a personal vision for the Filipino Nation — one that is the UNDERLYING MOTIVATION for his bid to become president.

You’ve taken a big step by making a concise statement of your position on the matter of the future of our system of governance:

We all have our personal preferences: mine is for presidential and bicameral, which to me is best poised for an evolution to a federal system so long as we’re prepared to consider the heretical notion of subsuming provinces into regions (gerrymandering being a big problem); i am open to a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system in order to address the desire of legislators to hold executive portfolios. On other issues I am increasingly of the mind that legislative work should mean abolishing term limits but executive work requires term limits. [my boldfaces]

Perhaps build upon the above statement from hereon and refer to your previous treatises across the broad range of options only by exception.

If we rewrite what you said above in bullet points (not[ing] those parts I emphasize in bold), this is how I would interpret your categorical position now:

In order for the Philippines to progress, MLQ3 recommends that we:

(1) Retain for now a presidential bicameral system with the aim of;

(2) Evolving local governance to a federal system which necessarily requires;

(3) Subsuming provinces into regions [or states].

(4) Legislators should be given executive portfolios (presumably to give legitimacy to pork-barrel politics) and as such, transition to a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system may have to accompany the next stage of change.

You take a position and put it out there for critique, then refer back to it cyclically. I think that is “Jose Rizal”‘s and the others’ beef with your style (which of course is yours to apply considering this is your blog).

========== end of excerpt

And now me, being me, provides herewith the bigger lesson — one that becomes relevant with regard to the sort of questions we field to our politicians in the rare occassions that they man up to face the media (or one another) in a public forum.

Note the manner by which we intelligently engage a popularly-respected thought leader (in this case, a Noted Blogger) in Pinoy society. This is the same manner by which our politicians should be engaged — on the basis of what ideas they put on the table. The responsibility of the constituents of a politician (much the same was as the commentors and followers of noted bloggers) is to crystallise rather than to muddle.

And we should vote for politicians on the basis of what that crystallisation reveals.

We should not content ourselves with our leaders’ (in whatever form they take — politicians, bloggers, “experts”, etc.) off-the-hip assurances. Remember that the Philippines is still a disgracefully backward low-trust society. In contrast with Japan where honour and one’s word rule as Greg Sheridan observes in his book Asian Values Western Dreams

In Japan there are very few lawyers and the codes are mostly unwritten, but they are binding, nonetheless.

… in the Philippines where Asia wears a [glazed] smile, it is easy to be taken for a ride by people who have made a career of mastering the art of pushing the right buttons that the vacuous minds of the majority of Filipinos readily respond to. The easiest way to change that is to re-write the rules of engagement which we traditionally apply when relating with our leaders.

And doing that requires thinking — not the sort of Filipino-grade thinking that we have become comfy with over the last half-century, but world-class thinking of the sort that befits a 21st-Century Society.


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15 Responses to Noted blogger Manuel L Quezon III (MLQ3) takes a POSITION on Charter Change!

  1. ilda says:

    Mr Benign0,

    There are so many lawyers in the Philippines that’s why they cannot agree or come up with a constitution that will work for us 🙂 The main problem is, it doesn’t matter how many times the Philippine constitution is re-written, if it’s not going to be implemented anyway, it’s basically pointless and useless.

    Let’s blame the people who came up with the current one who did it with haste and with spite in mind for the government they replaced.

    In Japan there are very few lawyers and the codes are mostly unwritten, but they are binding, nonetheless.

    Same with the Brittish, they have what they call an “unwritten”, uncodified, or de facto constitution. They only have a set of laws and principles to guide them.

    • jethernandez says:

      You’re right ilda… the implementation part is the grey area of the whole habla of the charter issue.

      How many of our legislators have gone into the analysis of each and every section of the 1987 constitution?

      How many voters have read it?

      Section 11. The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.

      Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.

      Section 13. The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.

      Section 14. The State recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.

    • jethernandez says:

      On political dynasties

      Section 26. The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.

      On graft and corruption

      Section 27. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.


      • ilda says:


        Yeah. It’s all right there in the current constitution – the state should be protecting the interest of everyone, even those who are not yet born.

        Our current system will only work when majority of the population is sufficiently educated. And the state should be ensuring the education of the population as well. Parang chicken and egg na ito ah…haha

  2. BenK says:

    I would like to hear if MLQ3 still believes in his earlier preference for the form of government. I suspect not; he shows an increasing tendency to shy away from taking positions that are fundamentally unpopular with the perceived majority these days — very George McGovern-like.

    • Conyo says:

      And what’s wrong with engineering positions to fit the popular sentiment?

      He needs his fucking Google clicks.

      See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • HusengBatute says:

        The optimal solution is not always the popular solution. In fact, oftentimes, the only way to get a consensus is to cater to the lowest common denominator. Knowledge does not progress this way. In such situations, there wouldn’t be Galileos or Einsteins whose insights contradict common beliefs.

  3. jethernandez says:

    Cut and pasted from my blog…

    Taking a hint from the Pareto’s 80/20 rule, hypothetically the Philippine voting population is composed of 20 percent intelligent ones and 80 percent dumb ones. This logical framework if based on the accomplishments of the past and present administrations which includes the elected presidents, senators, governors, congressmen, mayors etc… can be more of truism than a fallacy. From perception of corruption in the executive, legislative and judicial branch in this banana republic can provide you x number of hits using the google search engine. To what can be seen or experienced in your neighborhood such as the stinky smell of the uncollected garbage to the sorrowful faces of the batang kalye sniffing rugby… this kind of scenario is all but normal. We as Pinoys, either empathize with it… blame it on the government… ignore it… or simply play dumb.

    Ergo (therefore in Latin) and going back to near fallacious framework, if the dumb is the majority of electorate then the elected ones are either dumb or playing dumb… wherefore and therefore, again using the Pareto’s 80/20 rule… we get 80 percent dumb development projects or dumb results of project implementation.

    After ranting about all the negativity an ordinary dumb Pinoy indio can perceive in the araw araw na ginawa ng Dyos, one can’t help but ponder on what in the hell is this blah blah on Federalism is all about? This then leads us to a gaddamn logic that if the government ain’t workin’ change the fuckin’ system. Aren’t we in our present state of politics already in a mode of government leadership ala federalist style? Starting from the North we have Ilocos Norte ruled by the junior of the former dictator Marcos and the Ilocos Sur being politically dominated by the czar of hueteng Chavit Singzon. The whole Pangasinan on the other hand is lorded by the famous crony and speaker Jose de Venecia while the Tarlakenyos are controlled by the Lapuzes and the Aquinos. Going back to the north we have the bailiwick of the all season politico Juan Ponce Enrile the Cagayan province. Each of them leader of political clans “using their own money” to develop their domain as evidenced by the billboards imprinting the phrases “This is a project of __________ (the politician’s name). Thank you for your cooperation.” How dumb can we be?

    This statement of facts, then leads us to a good understanding what the clamor is all about. The cry for federalist form of government by these oligarchs leads to a form or system that formalizes landlordism, political clan dominance and political territorialism. The last item simply means… “tangna… teritoryo ko to… wag mo akong pakialaman…” For Pedro and Juan and the other ordinary Pinoy indios pre-qouting the famous lines of the artistas in a gay showbiz talk show “Isa lang ang masasabi ko.” (kahit nobela ang sinabi)…. “Patay kang bata ka!!!” we are dammed and doomed.

    • BenK says:

      This is an impressive analysis; thanks for sharing it.

      If these clowns really thought about it, a Parliamentary system with its party dynamics actually works pretty well toward helping someone maintain local authority. The priority for political parties in a parliamentary system is to seek a majority in the legislature that will allow them to gain the executive, either outright or through a coalition. Local bigshots who can deliver the votes in the individual districts will be cultivated and supported, and have the opportunity to bargain their value into bigger, national positions for themselves. J.P. Enrile, for example, could exchange delivering all the districts in Cagayan for a Ministry chair, or for appointments of his chosen people to regional or provincial government posts.

      The reason they would resist this kind of scenario is that it’s too risky; it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Under the current system, or even a federalist modification of it, being associated with the losing side on a national scale need not necessarily damage their local influence. In the US for example, there are firmly Republican states where the party, even though it is a clear minority in the national government, pretty much runs things as they wish at the lower levels. A parliamentary system is much more centralized; the power is concentrated in who represents the local districts, and the importance of offices such as provincial governorships is much less. There may not even be elections for governors’ seats — in a traditional parliamentary system, there wouldn’t be — because these are not executive roles, but administrative ones. So for the Enriles and Singsons and Marcos of the country, they either deliver in a parliamentary system, or they’re out on their ear. No wonder why they wouldn’t want to screw with the way things are now.

    • ilda says:

      Good one Jet.

      This is a project of __________ (the politician’s name). Thank you for your cooperation.”

      I hate seeing reminders like these on billboards! It’s as if they are using their own money for the paving of the roads. The thing is, the dumb voters fall for it.

      Changing to a Federal system is a long shot but I hope will occur one day.

  4. Chino says:

    I have heard an opinion that since squatters comprise a good bit of the “dumb” vote, de-powering their votes or at least reducing their vote’s power is part of the solution. The switch to the parliamentary system, or at least a system where the leader cannot be nationally elected, can do this. Anyway, everyone’s vote is weakened because they can’t elect the head of state; it’s parliament that does. Some may accuse me of being racist, but then again, urban poor who insist on living on land that belongs to someone else and producing criminal elements who are sometimes their main source of income, would you like to give them the majority power in the country?

  5. benign0 says:

    @ jethernandez, that’s right. Whatever the “official” system is, feudalism will remain the system in practice. Democracy and The Vote are actually highly-empowering systems. Trouble is, the people who people like Abe Margallo keep insisting hold the “power” are too dumb to wield it wisely. Instead of evaluating among themselves what best suits their interests (on the basis of what a politicians says he will do) and holding their politicians to their word, they instead go about behaving in that usual dumb way that makes them easy pickin’s for the influence machinery of politicians.

    @ BenK, I’m willing to give MLQ3 the benefit of the doubt. I agree that he seems to have lost the plot as far as blogging is concerned and merely sways to the beat of public opinion (or at least that of his readership), but perhaps he is not conscious of what he has become. Perhaps he can be receptive to wake up calls and I’ve actually seen him in the past take on board new ideas even if they may run counter to his. Trouble with Establishment Bloggers is that they form too many personal relationships and latch on to party affiliations that blinker them and compromise their writing integrity.

    Btw, this guy “Jose Rizal II” already made a lengthy response/challenge to MLQ3’s thesis. Check it out here (right below my original comment that was the basis for this blog).

    • BenK says:

      Maybe so. Discovering that people are questioning his once-admirable objectivity might encourage him to take a step back and configure his message a little more carefully. Or it might reveal him for having become just another bandwagon media personality. It’s up to him, I suppose.

  6. Hsing Tao says:

    I really don’t go to MLQ3’s blog. It is a waste of time.

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