The Philippines' Road Ahead, Part 1: Changing the System of Government

It’s now the end of what has been in some respects a rather surreal week – the elections have, contrary to most expectations, been concluded more-or-less successfully, at least in form if not in substance, and there is a growing mood that it is time to move on and make the best of it. That much is good, I suppose, but what’s disturbing to me is how quickly things have seemed to return to the same dull and unsatisfying normality. Whether you are satisfied with the outcome of the elections or not, they have presented the country an opportunity to improve, which so far and shockingly soon after the event the country seems all-too-willing to squander. Squander the opportunity at your own hazard, because whether you are satisfied with the outcome of the elections or not, the real tasks facing the country going forward are clear, entirely inescapable, and can be summed up in four simple points:

The people must hold their chosen leaders to a greater standard of accountability: It should be axiomatic, but apparently it needs to be pointed out to the electorate that the demand and desire for a democratic system carries with it the responsibility for participation and oversight in the governing of the country. Since the voters chose the leaders, the success or failure of those leaders to govern effectively reflects not on those individuals, but on the people who put them into office.

The system of government must be changed: The present form of the Philippine government is inefficient, irrational, and by perpetuating elitist and dynastic rule mocks the fundamental principles of democracy that it purports to uphold. While the details of how it should be changed can be legitimately debated, no logical case whatsoever can be made for letting the system remain as it is.

An independent media is critical to the success of democracy in the Philippines: Honest and factual news, analysis, and even entertainment should not be controlled by the vested interests of the oligarchy, and that control should not be protected by the law of the land. Breaking the stranglehold on the nation’s media by the elite few will be a challenge, but one that must be faced, unless the people want to surrender their claim to worthiness to be a democratic society.

Greater economic opportunity must be provided to every Filipino: The path to a protectionist autarky is the path to ruin for all but the elite few in this country, and only the blind or stupid will fail to recognize that it is path the Philippines has been traveling for far too long. While this is in some ways the greatest challenge among these four principle tasks, it is at least the one that presents the greatest variety of solutions. The only really wrong answer is to do nothing.

We here in the Get Real universe have been addressing these four canons in various ways for years, and now that the elections have turned a fresh page, in a manner of speaking, it is time to refresh our message and redouble our efforts. Point One we have already begun to address anew, and there will certainly be more to follow; what I would like to accomplish with this post is to provide, as objectively as possible, a conversation starter for Point Two, changing the system of government. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the topic recently on Sentro ng Katotohanan, and while I have a certain opinion on the Parliamentary vs. Presidential question that is less important at this point than simply trying to remove the misconceptions and ulterior motives that have poisoned most discussions about it in this country. For people to have a productive debate, they need to know what they’re talking about; so in the interest of public information, I’ve distilled our recent discussions into a handy comparative chart of the two systems:

Presidential System Parliamentary System
The head of government is selected separately from the legislature.

The head of government (the President) is elected separately from the legislature.

In the U.S., for example, the President is chosen by the Electoral College, whose members are elected by the people. As a practical matter, the President is elected by direct vote – the names of the presidential candidates are the ones on the ballot, not the names of the representatives to the Electoral College – but technically, the President is elected by indirect vote.

The Electoral College system is unique to the U.S., and is designed for the main purpose of preventing a minority President (i.e., one who has received less than a majority of the popular vote, as is common in the Philippines) from taking office. It is not, however, completely foolproof for a variety of reasons, although it has generally worked well.

The head of government is selected by the legislature, and is a representative of a legislative district.

The head of government (usually called the Prime Minister) is a member of Parliament, representing his home legislative district. He is also the leader of his political party, or a leader of a party in a coalition. He earns his position as PM by virtue of his party’s (or coalition’s) having gained a majority in Parliament through legislative elections, which are of course based on a direct vote of the people.

The selection of the PM in a Parliamentary system is slightly less-direct than the selection of a President. As a rule, the voters know who the prospective PM will be and can take that knowledge into consideration when voting for their parliamentary representatives, but the choice of PM is always done by the Parliament and always occurs after the elections.

Two things help to prevent the “people’s will” from being thwarted in terms of their choice for head of government in a Parliamentary system. First, the PM is also a representative; if he is not elected to Parliament by his home district, he cannot serve as party leader nor as PM. Second, the structure of the Parliamentary system overall makes it much easier to remove an unpopular or unsuitable PM from office than in a Presidential system.

The head of government serves a fixed term of office.

The term of office for the President is fixed, and has a definite starting and ending date.

The head of government serves an indefinite term of office.

A PM stays in office as long as he continues to have majority support in the legislature. If the PM loses majority support, then he must resign.

In parliamentary systems, there is generally a time limit or maximum number of years a Parliament and PM can serve before new elections must be held. Elections can be held at earlier times, however, for two reasons:

1. The PM can call for early elections. The results of these elections will determine who the majority party in Parliament will be. Generally this is done when the PM and his party are enjoying wide public support, so that the time limit on their term in office can be renewed.

2. Any member of Parliament (including the PM) can call for a vote of confidence to be taken among the members of Parliament to determine if the PM continues to have majority support in the legislature. If the PM wins a vote of confidence, this means he continues to have majority support and can continue to govern. If the prime minister loses a vote of confidence, this means he has lost majority support and must resign. New parliamentary elections will be held to determine who the new majority party will be.

There is separation of powers among the branches of government.

Separation of powers is designed to build institutional conflict into the system to prevent concentration of power and governmental tyranny, and to encourage broad-based compromise. This is known as the checks & balances system.

In the US system, an individual cannot hold office in two branches of government at the same time. This adds a dimension of personal conflict to the institutional conflict. On the other hand, it tends to increase the unity of policy in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government, though those might still conflict to some degree.

There is the possibility of a divided government, with different political parties controlling different branches of the government. This results in partisan conflict.

There is fusion of powers among the branches of government.

In a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative powers of the government are both concentrated in the Parliament. The system is designed to enhance governmental efficiency and majority rule.

Dual office holding is allowed. An individual can be, and virtually always is, a member of Parliament and a member of the PM’s cabinet at the same time.

There is no possibility of a divided government, and in general the decisions of Parliament cannot be limited by the other branches of government.

The numerical minority in the government has permanent relevance.

Because of the separation of powers of the different branches of government, the numerical minority has many opportunities to exert their influence.

On the one hand, this is a benefit because it forces the majority party to compromise and moderate their actions to serve the largest possible part of the population, which is important when the difference in strength between the majority and minority is rather small. On the other hand, it can quickly lead to gridlock and harm government efficiency through the minority’s ability to obstruct government actions.

The numerical minority in the government has temporary irrelevance.

Because of the fusion of legislative and executive powers in the Parliament, the minority parties have very little opportunity to influence government policy.

On the one hand, this is a benefit to government efficiency because government actions can proceed smoothly with no obstruction. On the other hand, it can lead to a condition of “democratic dictatorship” wherein a very small majority can rule unchecked. Also, districts which elect minority representatives to Parliament may find themselves functionally under-represented, simply because their representative has no opportunity to pursue initiatives on their behalf if those ideas differ from those of the majority party.

The positions of head of government and head of state are held by one person.

The position of head of state is the ceremonial, symbolic leader of the country, and the President serves as both head of state and head of government. In business terms, this is analogous to the CEO of a company also serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

While this does provide a certain unity of leadership for the country, it also creates a conflict in the person of the President who is at the same time supposed to be the non-partisan, symbolic representative and leader of all the people, and is also a member and leader of a particular political party.

In this way the choice of President is unavoidably based as much on personality as it is on political positions. This is not necessarily bad, especially when the President is representing a very strong majority party and is universally respected as a competent leader by supporters and non-supporters alike; however, these ideal conditions are fairly rare, and it is more likely that conflict and voter dissatisfaction will play a greater role in the President’s legacy.

The positions of head of government and head of state are held by two different persons.

In parliamentary democracies that still have a monarchy, the king or queen is the head of state.

In parliamentary democracies that do not have a monarchy, the head of state (usually called the President) is elected separately from the Parliament, usually by direct vote of the people.

The term of the President is almost always fixed, and generally scheduled to overlap parliamentary elections to ensure continuity of national leadership.

The head of state in a parliamentary system has limited but important powers, such as the power to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections, and usually serves as Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces. He does not, however, take part in legislative action, nor the day-to-day executive duties of running the government.

While he may be a member or leader of a particular political party, that is irrelevant to his position as President.

These two systems form the fundamental building blocks of every democracy in the world, and so by default the choice for the Philippines must be one or the other. Both have good and bad points, and I personally believe one is a more practical solution than the other, but I won’t get into that right now; after all, the choice is not mine to make – the best I can hope to accomplish is to help everyone else make the most informed choice they can.

Next time: A Unitary System or a Federal System?

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61 Responses to The Philippines' Road Ahead, Part 1: Changing the System of Government

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  2. benign0 says:

    It’s great that we finally kicked off this exploration of a possible new form of government for the Philippines. It comes at a time when fear mongering about an Arroyo dictatorship is no longer relevant. This recent election had accentuated more strongly than ever the utter lack of any focus on issues and policies and concentrated more on moronic personality intrigue, song-and-dance campaigns, and pathetic emo politics.

    A parliamentary system seems to be one where there is a stronger connection/representation of politics and interests at the local level at the debate on the policies and legislation at the national level. More importantly, political parties stand a better chance of actually meaning something beyond being mere election winning machines.

  3. FreeSince09 says:

    The perpetual argument against a Parliamentary form of government is this:

    1. The majority of the people elected in Congress are rich/elitist
    2. Very few are truly loved by the people

    Ergo, the same elitist brand of leadership will remain in power regardless of the style.

    Any counter-arguments?

    • BenK says:

      Certainly. That argument against the system is irrelevant. If the ‘people who tend to make up the system’ is the common denominator, then the argument must logically be based on the details of the systems themselves. Any system can be corrupted by the electorates’ being lazy dumbasses and habitually sending the wrong people to serve in it — that’s an entirely separate problem. So think of it this way, you are given a choice:

      A. Elected people suck, system is dysfunctional.
      B. Elected people suck, system is coherent and functional.

      And you have no choice “none of the above”, which do you choose?

    • ChinoF says:

      1. I think the idea of a parliament or ruling group of “elders” is that they are the true elite of the country. Note, elite as opposed to elitist. They should be in Aristotle’s definition aristocrats, the best minds that the country can produce. That is opposed to the oligarchs, the worst minds who occupy that same kind of group rule as the aristocrats. Right now, we’re under oligarchy instead of aristocracy – business owners and landed families who are the worst of minds rule the country. Yet a change to parliamentary system, taking away the popular vote from the people, will help in changing the worst of minds with better minds.
      2. Being loved by the people is not necessarily a valid trait of a good leader. He only needs to be respected by his constituents enough that they will follow him in doing the right way. A spoiler or panderer may be loved by the people, but this kind of leader only creates problems. Changing the system will help in moving the constituents to vote not based on personality, but on platform and the practical intentions of the candidates. People will be formed to adjust their thinking according to the new system.

      I think the real argument Da Pinoy will have against parliamentary form is this… Marcos tried it. So it has a bad taste thanks to the Marcos experience. Sadly, that is an ignorant opinion. What Marcos tried wasn’t even parliamentary… it was presidential using parliamentary terms, like ministry and prime minister. Thus, there should be no reason to call parliamentary a totally bad idea.

      • ChinoF says:

        I should correct something here. The worst minds ruling the country is kakistocracy – the official name for an idiocracy. Oligarchy should be upper level people like aristocrats, but instead of caring for the nation, they care only for themselves (which is still true for our country anyway). There, that corrects me definitions.

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      FreeSince09:

      Contrary to the often mistaken but common notion that “the same elitist brand of leadership will remain in power regardless of the style”, the real fact is that if you change the game, the game-play changes too.

      Let’s accept the fact that the dysfunctions inherent to the current presidential system have a lot to do with “the wrong people getting elected.”

      Well, let’s look at why the wrong people get elected and why the results are dismal:

      1. The current system supports name-recall and popularity of personalities over ideals/principles and “what-you-stand-for.” Voters explicitly select NAMES OF PEOPLE to become their leader. Since Filipinos are not a thinking people and are too lazy to due their own due-diligence on candidates, Filipinos tend to go for name-recall and popularity to help them choose.

      2. Since name-recall and personality-popularity is the name of the game in the current system, Filipinos who “have name-recall” and/or popularity turn themselves into politicians, never mind that many of them are just not capable or qualified to do a good job.

      3. The current system discourages competent people from becoming active players in the system if they are up against people with name-recall/popularity. Less people with competence therefore get attracted to public service.

      But consider what would happen if you suddenly shifted over to a system that no longer puts a premium on name-recall, by coming up with a system that emphasizes PARTIES, not persons or individual candidates:

      1. Since individual candidates would be less important per se and parties will be of greater importance, elections will cease to be popularity-contests but will instead feature contests between which party has a better platform and plan-of-governance than the others.

      2. Realize that in a Parliamentary System, you cannot choose who you want to be Prime Minister by “writing, checking, or shading” a prospective Prime Minister’s name on a ballot. Instead, prospective Prime Ministers just happen to be the leaders of the different political parties. Now it is obvious that parties usually will pick “the best person in their party” to be their own party leader. That’s a given. Your deliverables as party leader are to lead your party in spearheading discussions and debates on issues, ensuring that your party’s elected members of parliament deliver on their promises to their constituencies, and thus ensure that in the next general election, your party can win a majority. If you don’t win a majority, as party leader, it is also your job to find meaningful ways to form working coalitions with other parties in order to ensure that you can better voice our your party’s concerns with “like-minded” parties and get resolutions and legislation passed in your party’s favor.

      3. Looking at number 2, it is therefore clear that just any actor/celebrity/pretty-face/son-of-a-famous-person is not going to be a good party leader automatically. In other words, a Parliamentary System’s intra-party focus causes it to be an extremely MERITOCRATIC system where the best people rise to the top of their parties. In other words, only the best, and most competent people end up becoming leaders of their parties, and thus, only competent and capable people can ever become Prime Minister in case their parties gain majority, or if their parties successfully broker coalitions with other parties to form a working majority, where their party has the plurality within said coalition.

      4. When the system gets shifted to one where name-recall and popularity is LESS IMPORTANT, then all politicians are more likely to focus more on getting the job done as opposed to “being popular.”

      5. Parliamentary Systems can be tweaked differently so that some countries do not even feature the names of candidates on their ballots, but instead feature strictly the names of the parties that are contending for a seat in a particular constituency. Again, that feature drastically lessens the personality-aspect of elections. And considering that Filipinos are by default a highly personality-centric people, by shifting to a system that is significantly LESS personality-based in favor of one that is more party-policy-platform-centric can do a lot of wonders in reforming the juvenile and petty Filipino mind so that it acts “less Pinoy” and becomes more “civilized” and mature.

      = = = = = =

      As for BenK’s challenge to you, I would answer B.

      That’s because even if the elected people suck, having a system that is coherent and functional can actually:

      1. force those elected people who suck to suck less

      2. have an orderly means with which to replace those who suck with those who suck less

      3. operate faster and more efficiently so that if the elected people who suck come up with programs whose results suck, the results that suck are revealed much faster so that corrective action can be taken much faster as well in order to REPLACE those results that suck with better results that no longer suck in record time.

      • manila paper says:

        Fantastic explanation! 🙂

      • jethernandez says:

        Hymen!!! Halleluyah Dyesus!!!

        Excellent!!! @ JR2

      • FreeSince09 says:

        What about taking into account Da Pinoy’s inability to extend beyond his region or parochialism.

        The advantage of havbing a Senate, is that it has the capacity to protect national interests as oppossed to local chiefs (the Congressmen) who would gerrymander and scrap public funds to the ground to continue their stay in power?

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        In correct practice, the Senate (as it is done in the USA – which is where we’re supposed to be copying from), Senators are voted by state, not through some silly scheme where people vote for a huge number of them NATIONALLY, AT LARGE.

        In real Truth, there is NO ADVANTAGE whatsoever in having the Philippine Senate. The manner by which it gets its Senators voted in is just plain tomfoolery, where ordinary voters probably have in their minds only a list of 5 to at most 7 “good people” they want in for Senator, and then because they’re forced to fill up a full slate of 12, they end up randomly choosing the remaining space-fillers based on name-recall.

        That ends up causing those common “space fillers” to get elected at the top of the list, because they happened to be the space-fillers on more peoples’ ballots.

        I’ll tell you how it goes… The Philippine Senate was put in by the US Colonial administration to help WEAKEN the Philippine Presidency because in essence, each and every Philippine Senator (elected in the manner we do today where each Senator is voted in nationally) IS A MINI-PRESIDENT.

        Every single Senator, by virtue of being Nationally-Elected, feels himself to be entitled to be treated LIKE A PRESIDENT. (A typical Pinoy Senator says: “The President was voted nationally, well SO WAS I!!”)

        In the end, the Philippine Senate generally turns out to be a circus filled with at most 24 people who think they’re worth more than what they are. Between the House of Representatives and the Senate, the House actually gets more bills passed and gets more stuff done, while the Senate does more “fiscalizing” and useless exposés because each Senator sees himself as a RIVAL to the President and the Vice President.

        Worse, the Senate President in the Philippines (who is a separate person, unlike in the USA), is given a special place in the “line of succession”, so that the Senate once again feels itself to be more important than it really is. (Notice that in the USA, the line of succession is: President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House of Representatives… Know why? That’s because the Vice-President IS THE SENATE PRESIDENT in the USA!)

        The end result is that the Philippine Senate sees itself to be THE “check and balance” against the Office of the President, when in fact, it’s supposed to be the entire Congress (House + Senate together). And most of what they do, therefore, is to do exposés and other publicity stunts, especially in view of the fact that many of those in the Philippine Senate are there because they want to use it as a springboard to the Presidency.

        The USA made it like that in order to significantly weaken the Philippine President and force all post-colonial Philippine Presidents to need to kow-tow to Washington in order to receive support, aid, and assistance from Uncle Sam because of the Phil. Presidents’ weakened position thanks to the Senate. That was important for the USA because of the US Bases. They needed a Philippine President weakened by the Philippine Senate so that the Phil. President would ask help from the USA in getting things done, and in exchange for that, the Philippine President would ensure the USA that the US Bases could stay based on favorable terms.

        On the other hand, if the Philippine Senate were regional instead, the Senators would not be as arrogant as most of them tend to be thanks to their their “nationally-elected” status. Because of that, Senators would be less likely to just “block everything the President tried to do”, and would not be able to significantly weaken any Philippine President. With a “stronger Philippine President”, the Office of the President could make bolder and more independent-minded decisions and wouldn’t always have to pay obeissance to Washington.

        But, as luck would have it, Filipinos are LOUSY debuggers. Very few Filipino politicians, political scientists, analysts, etc cared to understand how it is that the nationally-elected Senate has been a wasteful contraption was meant to weaken the Presidency and force it to keep asking for help from the USA.

        In other words, the Philippine Senate was meant to weaken the Philippine President so that the ENTIRE PHILIPPINES would continue to be subservient to US geopolitical interests.

        FreeSince09, THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE IN HAVING A PHILIPPINE SENATE.

        Especially not the kind of Senate we have where a nationwide name-recall contest is held and the top 12 get in it.

        The only way to go is either:

        1. Have a Region-based Senate (like the USA, where the Senators come from each of the States)

        OR

        2. Get rid of the SENATE altogether!

      • J.B. says:

        Great info.

        Our current system allows the likes of Angara licking the soles of Erap shoes just to stay in political game. I don’t think in the parliamentary system Erap can lord over the educated and wise.

        The only problem there is the main motive why people intends to run and its not only prestige but the constant milking cow of their position in government. This change of intention from greedy agenda to getting the job done is still hard to imagine.

        It would still be possible though during the initial stage, leader of the party must have the largest amount of sum to buy out other’s just to stay on top and pay the subordinates once he has the highest seat.

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        Motives and Intentions are actually quite irrelevant, J.B.

        It’s results that truly matter and result that really count. Oskar Schindler’s original intentions for “hiring” Jewish slave-labor was NOT to save them from the genocidal tendencies of his fellow Nazi party members (Schindler was a card-carying member of the party), but to PROFIT from their labor. Making money was his primary goal.

        In the end, the result was that because they were under his employ, they were spared by the Waffen-SS for being “essential workers.”

        Of course, later on, he also grew fond of them that he did go out of his way to save them. But his motives and intentions started out selfish. But the results, well, they were benevolent and life-saving.

        Now, when you look at this statement “This change of intention from greedy agenda to getting the job done is still hard to imagine” you’ll find that having a “greedy agenda” need not be the real problem.

        The more important thing is whether one gets the job done or not. So maybe an official wants to stay longer in power. But the means of staying longer in power is to make sure that he/she continues to deliver spectacular results, otherwise, newcomers from rival parties may emerge who may appear to be attractive alternatives and just a “passable performance” will not ensure staying in power.

        In other words, the current Presidential System (pertaining to the system as a whole, not just the office of the president) has more of a skew towards personality and name-recall. A person can easily get elected and re-elected to his position simply because of what people think of him, not because of his performance. So even if he/she doesn’t yield good results, he may still get re-elected because the system’s bias isn’t so much based on results. On the other hand, shifting over to a Parliamentary System, especially one where ballots will feature only the Parties’ names, people will be more likely to look at the performance of the incumbent rather than the personality behind it. In other words, if you have a lust for power and you want to stay on in power, you have no choice but to perform well, because if you don’t, you’re out.

        One other thing is that with the Parliamentary System, is the fact that there is LESS NEED to rely on the Pork Barrel funds that exist in our Presidential System in order to get the legislative branch cooperating with the executive branch.

        The current Presidential System relies on pork barrel funds as issued by the Office of the President in order to entice just enough members of Congress to form a majority group who could work with the President’s agenda. The Pork Barrel system, therefore, is meant to buy support.

        But you don’t need that (or don’t need as much of it) in a Parliamentary System because members of the Majority Party (or coalition) are already expected to be well-aligned with what the Party or Coalition leadership has planned. There’s no need to buy their support with funds. Instead, if you want to form coalitions with other parties in order to gain a majority, it’s policies and cabinet portfolios that are negotiated. Not cash. This is one major operational advantage of the Parliamentary System’s “fusion of the executive and legislative” where the majority party in the legislature also happens to have direct control over the executive cabinet as both (majority bloc in parliament and the executive cabinet) are under the Prime Minister who is the leader of the majority bloc.

        Any system that is an improvement over the current rotten Presidential System we have would instantly yield better results.

        The simple fact that a Parliamentary System is significantly less personality-oriented than the Presidential System will already significantly correct the name-recall bias of the current system and prevent air-heads who just happen to have name-recall in their favor rising to the highest offices.

    • benign0 says:

      Already put well by JR2 and jumping off from ChinoF‘s real elite as opposed to the merely elitist. The social class of the leaders in our government is not the real issue. The real issue is in how the system facilitates a holding of these politicians to account and mitigating the effect of our cultural beholdenness to pedigree and personality politics. A parliamentary system comes across as a stronger framework for brokering ideas rather than personalities in the exercise of representing the will of the constituency.

      As BenK pointed out, there is not much we can do about the quality of our politicians. Indeed, as had so many times been demonstrated by one becredentialled bozo or another, even the most highly-educated of our “experts” suck. Look no further than all these Establishment bloggers who supported everything that the Yellow Army stood for. They are all highly-educated. And yet they SUCK.

      So it comes down to the best system to mitigate the suckiness of Pinoy politicians. Reduce the effect of personality and give ideas and issues a fighting chance in Pinoy politics. A parliamentary system seems to be the way to go in that regard.

      • FreeSince09 says:

        So it’s like the Party-list system?

      • BenK says:

        Not at all. In either system, the party-list functions outside of the representation tied to specific legislative districts. It is designed – supposedly – to permit some representation for “marginalized sectors” who have – again, supposedly – broad but diffuse support throughout the whole nation. In other words, they are important enough to be represented, but do not have geographically-defined influence, and consequently would be otherwise prevented from joining the Legislature if they had to do it through winning a district.

        In reality, the mess the Philippines has made of the party-list system – turning the party-list parties into fronts for other interests, inventing parties based on “marginalization” defined in the most ridiculous terms, forming parties of extremely narrow and/or regional significance – is the natural outcome of a party-list system in any Parliament or Congress. It’s a bad idea.

        In either a Parliamentary or a (proper) Presidential format, the necessity to form strong, coherent parties eliminates any rationale for the party-list, since parties will have to seek to coalesce or form coalitions to have power in the government. The bigger parties, in turn, will have to broaden their appeal and address issues important to the smaller parties if they wish to gain their support. In either the Parliamentary or Presidential form, the natural evolution is towards a two-party system.

    • Miriam Quiamco says:

      This is where an independent media as a way to air out issues and educate voters become very crucial. We cannot afford to elect incompetent members of the elite class in government, although I have no objection to electing the competent elites like Gilbert Teodoro who reached where they are in government through hard work and personal accomplishments. It would be a waste to exclude people like Teodoro who originate from the elite class, but whose competence and intelligence have been used to promote the public good. I think that we should push for an independent media like PBS in the U.S. or NHK in Japan or BBC in the UK, TV and radio media networks which discuss issues that benefit public interest. These media networks compete with the commercial ones successfully because they have popular support and their reporting veers away from sensationalism. Their interest is to serve the public good. There are enough Filipinos who care about the state of affairs in our country to fund these forms of media that are only beholden to the people and not to the oligarchs. If we are able to establish this powerful medium for public good especially in TV and radio to reach out to the masses in the countryside, then, we will be ready for parliamentary form of government. A parliamentary form of government will be far more efficient and effective in policy-making and truly representative of the interests of the nation as a whole and not only of the oligarchs. It will also lessen corruption as elections will be cheaper than the recently concluded one which cost billions of pesos only to elect the most incompetent candidate, now, this was truly tragic.

  4. manila paper says:

    EXCELLENT POST. Now if only someone can find a way to explain this to the Starbucks masa and the Wowowee set. Left in the hands of mass media:

    Parliamentary = Prime Minister Gloria Arroyo

    Parliamentary = Marcos-style dictatorship

    That’s all.

    • BenK says:

      Note that I did call out the media as one of the four Big Problems that needs to be solved. Everything you see here is just a little example of how people can do their part to change that.

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      What Marcos did was NOT a parliamentary system. It was a Presidential System that used Parliamentary terminology.

      What exactly was Prime Minister Cesar Virata?

      He was nothing but Marcos’ EXECUTIVE SECRETARY!

      Marcos simply replaced the word “Secretary” with “Minister” and “Department” with “Ministry.”

      In essence, Marcos put up a unicameral and one-Party Presidential System using Parliamentary terminology. There was nothing “parliamentary” about it, because “Prime Minister” Cesar Virata was not the one who called the shots.

      President Ferdinand Marcos called the shots… He was President, and he was the top man who called the shots.

      Since he called the shots, his system was Presidential, not Parliamentary.

      = = = = = = = = = = = =

      As for Gloria Arroyo, why does it always have to be about her? Mar Roxas, last I checked is still the leader of the Liberal Party… If the system shifts, and he and the Liberal Party win a majority of all seats in Parliament, then Mar Roxas CAN BECOME the Prime Minister.

      The problem with Pinoys is that they think only GMA can become Prime Minister. Well, right now, she can easily do that, because only her party truly cared about winning seats in Congress, which will eventually become the Parliament.

      If other parties decide they want to compete, then they will have to field good candidates for the local districts (or constituencies in a parliamentary setting), and that will mean that whichever party wins the majority of seats will have its leader become Prime Minister.

      It doesn’t have to be GMA only.

      Those who don’t like GMA only need to vote for anyone other than the Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidate for Congress in their own districts. Simple as pie. 😉

      If another party takes majority, then that party’s leader becomes Prime Minister.

      It’s a paradigm shift that requires a lot more cerebral activity for Pinoy brains. But as people get more used to it, they’ll get used to thinking more along these lines and thinking more about issues and policies.

      = = = = = = = = = = =

      One main thing that cannot be denied is how India’s masses almost totally resemble the Pinoy masses in terms of worshipping showbiz stars and athletes. Pinoys are crazy about our artistas and basketbolistas and boxers, etc… Indians are crazy about their Bollywood stars and Cricketeers.

      But notice that never has India ended up with a Bollywood Star or Cricket Champion ever becoming (or even get in the running for) PRIME MINISTER.

      The system has a lot to do with the results. Lousy System = Lousy Results. Better System = Better Results.

      • BenK says:

        Even though it is more personality-oriented, even a better-structured Presidential system with strong parties tends to keep out the deadwood. There have been exceptions, Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger being the most obvious ones; but in both their cases, they underwent a long learning process within a strong party organization before they ever got close to public office, and as a result turned out to be pretty good politicians (whether you agree with their policies or not). Others who have tried it but were really brainless loons, like Jesse Ventura in Minnesota for example, always end up getting the bum’s rush out of office at the next election (and not being repeatedly re-elected like the Bong Revillas and Lito Lapids of the world).

        That only works because there are strong parties in the US, and the electorate on the whole is very policy- and party-oriented; personalities become the icing on the cake, and not just an entire cake made of icing. The Philippines has neither an enlightened electorate nor stable, ideologically-sound parties, which are the biggest reasons why a Presidential form of government doesn’t work here now, and is not likely to work here for quite a long time to come.

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        Agreed. The Presidential System has – as two of its major pre-requisites – strong parties and and an issues-based and policies-centric electorate.

        Without the prerequisites, the Presidential System falls apart – much like it has in the Philippines.

        In a Parliamentary System, the parties are INGRAINED in the system, so that even if a country that adopts it starts off with what is essentially a weak party-system, that party system will automatically get strengthened because of how the Parliamentary System works. That’s because people will immediately realize that whoever becomes Prime Minister is dependent on which party wins a majority or which party is the largest one in a post-election coalition that forms a majority.

        Immediately after the first electoral exercise, people will see that the system is party-centric, and from there, party consciousness will improve.

  5. yoseph says:

    It’s nice learning a lot about these two types of government from your discussion. =)

    I hope you can discuss the federal system too and compare it with parliamentary and presidential system.

    • BenK says:

      A federal system is one of the administrative forms a presidential or a parliamentary system can take.

      I’ll putting up Part Two – Comparing Unitary and Federal systems tomorrow evening sometime; already have my notes for it. 🙂

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      Just remember Yoseph, it’s like a 2 dimensional grid, not a 3 way set of choices.

      On the X axis, you can have Parliamentary versus Presidential. (form of government)

      On the Y axis, you can have Unitary versus Federal. (form of territorial administration)

      Then you can have 4 different quadrants.

      1. Parliamentary and Unitary: example: Singapore, New Zealand

      2. Parliamentary and Federal: example: Australia, Malaysia, Canada

      3. Presidential and Unitary: example: Philippines, France

      4. Presidential and Federal: example: USA, Mexico

      The key point is one aspect is “FORM OF GOVERNMENT” – how is your government formed?

      And the other aspect is “Territorial Administration” – do you centralize or break it into different autonomous parts?

  6. guilbautedsookie says:

    If the Philippines became federal, would it do any wonder?

    • BenK says:

      Maybe, maybe not. You’ll have to tune in later, I promise I’ll get on that topic…as soon as I get back from my meeting and watch the F1 qualifying.

    • Jay says:

      I think I was supporting federal for the Philippines because one of the problems was communication between local governments to the central government. Its not as apparent if you are in the NCR but it kills the citizens from remote areas like Baguio or Cebu who have to go to NCR in order get into some services like OPBEA, among others. If they don’t have residents to stay so they can wait for the results, they have to spend more.

      It would HELP if there was infrastructure that could EASILY bridge most of the islands so transportation wasn’t much of an issue.

      For France, its not much of an issue considering its one big land mass.

      • guilbautedsookie says:

        France is not federal…the subdivisions are departments are are still under national government though they are allowed to make their own rules

        I prefer the Philippines to be federal. It’s to know who’s doing his job or not

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        Hear! Hear!

        France is, in fact, one of the most CENTRALIZED countries in Western Europe, such that almost everything is said to revolve principally around Paris.

        The mayor of Strasbourg, which is a city that hosts certain EU offices, some years ago, said that the way Strasbourg and the EU is run is heavily contrasted against “le Centralisme Parisien” (Parisian Centralism) which actually stresses the fact that France is indeed heavily centralized around Paris.

        Then again, I think Jay was generally mentioning France in order to say that “France doesn’t need to be federal because it is one big land mass.” In other words, Jay actually recognized from the start that France is under a unitary form of territorial administration.

      • BenK says:

        France is not Federal because Napoleon did away with the old provinces (which were similar to Germany’s states, in that they were old monarchical lands) and created the departments in order to unify the country (read: centralize his control).

        Despite the political organization, culturally the French are still very regionalist. You will typically meet people within France who describe themselves as Normans, Bretons, Burgundians, etc. (only they do it in French, of course).

      • Dr. José Rizal II says:

        Actually, the regionalism is stronger among those who come from regions with a strong “other language” especially places like Provence (which speaks the Provençal dialect of Occitan), Bretagne (Brittany) which speaks a Celtic language similar to Cornish and Welsh, the “Pays-Basque” (Basque country), and Alsace-Lorraine where the German dialect “Alsatz” is spoken. The other “regions” like Normandie, Bourgogne (Burgundy), Auvergne, etc, do have their own cultural identities (which is a common phenomenon in other countries anyway), but they more readily just identify as Frenchmen who hail from this or that specific region having particular regional grape varieties with their own wines.

        Pre-Napoleon times, it seems that the development of Royal Absolutism may have also had something to do with it… Instead of having strong nobles (a strong Feudal decentralization), Royal Absolutism was meant to centralize and consolidate political power in the King. Of course, nobles were still around, until the French Revolution came around to decimate them. It thus seems that thanks to this, Napoleon did indeed succeed in being the one to really get France centralized and totally consolidated around a single central government.

      • Jay says:

        Oh yeah… got that wrong. I got things mixed up. I somehow had infrastructure mixed up somehow in there. But I figured due to the fact that there is lacking of constant communication between certain areas back to NCR, a federal government would definitely help out.

  7. Paolo says:

    The system is not THAT fucked up as people imagine. The PEOPLE inside the system are beyond redemption.

    • BenK says:

      No offense, but if you read the comments above (start at no. 12716), we already – and correctly – thoroughly trashed that tired old argument.

  8. FreeSince09 says:

    SO how does one form parties within this new system?

    FUrthermore, how can they be exploited by the ruling classes to perpetuate their stay in power?

  9. John Amend-All says:

    Just wanted to take issue with one of Ben’s points, about the temporary irrelevance of the minority in a parliamentary system. In most such systems, there is a bicameral legislature with the second chamber having limited but real powers, such as delaying legislation for a period. If the elections to the second chamber are held midway through the government term, when the governing parties are likely to be at their least popular, the defeated opposition then has some power if they win.

    But the real job of an MP, majority or minority, is to nurse his constituency (local electing area), solving individual problems, highlighting local concerns, such as the course of a new road through his area. For this reason many parliamentary systems have the candidate’s name as well as his party, on the ballot paper, preserving the link between the candidate and his area.

    • ChinoF says:

      Hmm… but still it’s issues, not personalities, that become important in this parliamentary arrangement, and so is preferable compared to the current system

    • BenK says:

      I see a point to having an upper house in the US presidential system because of the way it was developed, and I see the point of having an upper house in the UK and Japanese parliamentary systems as anachronisms those societies have a hard time letting go of….I don’t see the point of the upper house in the Philippines’ current system, nor in any non-Federal system that would replace it.

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      Some countries – Israel, included – tweaked their Parliamentary System so that only the party name appears on the ballot, not the name of the candidate for Member of Parliament (equivalent of Congressman).

      This, I believe would be the best step forward in a Parliamentary-based Philippines, because it would drastically-lessen the influence of personality-politics and name-recall.

      If people want a compromise, then the ballots should show first the PARTY NAME (in bold) and a much smaller, and less prominent “name of the candidate” that comes after the party’s name.

      In fact, COMELEC rules should even change into a strict set of guidelines where the font size-proportion of candidates’ names in contrast to the party’s names would be: 10 points (candidates’ name) versus at least 22 points (party name). To enlarge the candidates’ name, you’ll need to enlarge the party’s name proportionally as well.

      Same goes for Party logos. Party logos should be twice the size of the candidates’ photos on posters.

      Such strict rules will force Pinoy society to be more uniformly conscious about the different parties than the personalities.

      If you’d ask me, I prefer just getting rid of the names on the ballots altogether as a start, and then allow the parties to campaign for their candidates with pictures and names, but then also emphasizing the party names and logos in order to remind their supporters what to choose on the party names only ballots.

      The Philippines should adopt a form of the parliamentary system that will force Filipinos to become more party-conscious, given that Filipinos are extremely personality-oriented to a fault.

      Whichever it is, prominence should clearly be more on the party, not on the individual candidate. Only then will people become more conscious about “why this party, and not the other”, and that will be the beginning of issues, policy, and platform consciousness.

  10. Pinay Goddess says:

    A couple of years back, Senator Aquilino Jr. filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 proposing for a federal- presidential- bicameral form of government. This was supported by 13 Senators, and notably, Sen. Benigno Simeon Aquino was not among them.

    I think that proposed form of government fits us well, and will spur development of the entire country. The kind of federal set up proposed by Sen. Pimentel will create 11 autonomous regions, with Metro Manila to be patterned to the US Washington DC and will be the seat of the federal government. The proposed federal system will enable us to: 1) elect senators based on states; 2) elect senators representing overseas workers; and 3) elect state governor and vice-governor as a team. This kind of set up will ensure wider representation and will give local officials more authority in order to perform better.

    The said Joint Resolution also proposed the revision of the 1987 Constitution by either a Constitutional Convention, Constituent Assembly or by Popular Initiative. It’s also interesting (and timely, given the recent controversy on the appointment of the SC Chief Justice) to note that the same Resolution proposed to abolish the Judicial and Bar Council which screens nominees to the judiciary.

    BenK, you may want to look at this proposal and include this in your notes for the Part 2 of this article.

    • Pinay Goddess says:

      It’s Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. who filed the Resolution. Sorry for the typo error..

    • BenK says:

      It was 16 senators who filed the joint resolution, and Noynoy’s is the last name on the list. I’m putting a link to the details in my next installment.

  11. GCL says:

    BenK,

    Isn’t it relevant to include in the debates on issue # 2 or the “Change in government system” the issue of Morals? The Theory of Moral Sentiments, written by Adam Smith pre-dates the publication of his Wealth of Nations. Here he says that “moral values are indispensable if the beneficial aspects of the market system are to be experienced, the marketm out of itself, does not create this values”.

    Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker, Member of the German Parliament in a message to Nicanor Perlas’ best-selling book (Shaping Globalization: Three-folding) and widely used by European and western governments as a guide to their comprehensive sustainable development efforts, notes that: “When the influence of the sate and democratically legitimized majorities are essentially working at the national level, but the markets operates internationally, then we are faced with the extremely dangerous situation that the market forces oppose and prevail over democracy, the environment, and social justice. This is the omnipresent dilemma of globalization. No one wishes to return to the cozy yet dictator-endangered nation-state. But there is an equal unwillingness to give up the benefits of democratic control over the market”.

    The above demonstration is also applicable to the proposed shift from the presidential form to the parliamentary form of government. In the present situation, the rumor of GMA holding on to power and perhaps making NA a presidential sitting duck by herself becoming prime minister in a parliamentary form of government sends chills down our spine. understandably so, GMA including the oligarchs and political dynasties that patronize self-aggrandizement, are perceived by the discerning Filipino to have lost their ethical and moral compass.

    Thus, any form of government is futile under the hands of these people. Jose Rizal left us with something to reflect upon: “There are no tyrants if there are no slaves”. The word slave also means the inability to rise above certain “programming”. Our media, our politicians, and many of our business people who, despite knowing the theory of their archetypal purpose within the realm they operate are easily dissuaded by the glitter of power and money. More often than not their actions are devoid of life and spirit. They perpetuate modes of thought and methodologies of conventional and dominant frameworks of development consciously and unconsciously. This is our fetish to a “point-centered” western science.

    I therefore think that the first step is looking inward and appraising what is “eternally” good and true in our own individual standards. And if we are honest and rigorous in this pursuit and become aware, affective, and most of all volitional then the co-creator within us will find the best ways. After all there are many visionary initiatives that already point the way forward. All we need to do is to understand them, make them ours, mainstream them in our society.

    Any rush to anything, without understanding and simply looking at the externals, will lead us nowhere but to the same spot we are currently standing. Anyhow, I commend you and the many here who are making the effort to raise the bar of discussion. The acid-test though is how we can bring the intellectual realizations to many of our fellow filipinos who cannot join us here. To the poor masses, if a leader is upright they believe he will deliver. That is why they chose Noynoy.

    However, the real essence of leadership has been buried by crocodiles in politics, business, and media so that their monopolistic agenda can go on.

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      GCL,

      Please be aware that the masses only follow what oligarch puppetmasters and manipulators feed them. They would not have voted for Noynoy if Noynoy wasn’t fielded by certain oligarch factions (the Lopez-Cojuangco club) and if those oligarchs didn’t come up with a simplistic campaign to fool/dupe the masses to believe all that fluff about Noynoy’s uprightness.

      The same goes for Erap. Erap would not have become president in 1998 if he had not been supported and fielded as a candidate by a faction of unscrupulous elites (mostly from the nouveau rich and Marcos crony sector).

      The most important thing to change in Philippine society is the quality of the Philippine elite. If the elite is composed of half-assed “looking-for-a-quick-buck” type of oligarchs instead of “do-the-right-thing” elites, then they will continue to field lousy candidates who can easily be lapped up by the masses, even if they are not the best for the entire country. Fix the elites, and you’ll fix the country.

      If you have good elites, then none of them will seek to dupe the masses with stupid candidates like the Eraps and other similar brainless but “winnable” types, and instead will field the BEST candidates.

      Ever wonder why the original Jose Rizal wrote his novels in Spanish and not in some local language like Tagalog?

      It’s because Rizal wanted to change the elites, knowing that it’s the elites who are the real key to changing the country. The ideas found in his two novels were meant for an intellectual and already knowledgeable audience. Read Chapter XIV of Noli… See if it’s meant for the masa to understand.

      Obviously, you’ll agree with me that it wasn’t! Noli – in the original Spanish – had a lot of Latin phrases in it and even its title is Latin. It was truly meant for an intellectual audience.

      Sadly, very few people really read Noli the way it is supposed to be read. Most students even read only the comics-abridged version removes the descriptive texts that Rizal put in there so that the readers could understand his frustration and exasperation towards the “Pinoy Way of Doing Things.” Worse, teachers indoctrinate their students into thinking that Noli and Fili were specifically “anti-Spanish” works when in fact, they were both “anti-Pinoy Dysfunctional Culture” mega-rants.

      The bottomeline is that you need to focus on the elites. Pareto Principle… Focus on thoroughly fixing that small group in society that wields influence over the bigger group in society. Do not waste and dissipate your energy trying to force difficult-to-understand ideas on a people who are not interested in such ideas because they are more interested in putting food on the table as a primary concern.

      Read about Vilfredo Pareto to understand what that Pareto Principle is all about. In a nutshell: Fix the Elites first. If you fix them, they’ll fix society, and in the end, end up fixing the masses too.

      • manila paper says:

        Hear, hear! Are you sure you’re not the real Dr. Jose Rizal? 🙂

        The elites are the key for sure. Fix them and everything else follows. But do the elites want to be fixed? It’s in their interest to preserve the status quo because inequality in society is what makes them elite. What will it take to break that?

        Read Tingting Cojuangco’s column today. She’s implying Noynoy’s win is “God’s wisdom”. Somehow she feels like it has something to do with her.

        (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=575467&publicationSubCategoryId=86)

        “In 1998, I grudgingly put my trust in Him and decided I couldn’t fight Him but must go with the flow of His judgment, believing that in His time I would be happy by letting Him lead me. I finished my doctorate degree, which landed me the job as president of the Philippine Public Safety College through President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It took me 12 years to discover His ways and that I was an instrument of God’s wisdom. Today I know why.

        Now, I comprehend God’s plan. He wanted Noynoy to assume the large task of liberating our country. Return the country to the noble stature of the fairest Pearl of the Orient. Now I understand the reason for my choice to leave Tarlac’s governance. It was His decision through me because He wanted Noynoy to assume larger tasks, bigger than a province of more than a million residents — too small for a young man whose parents sacrificed the gift of life for our country’s freedom. He gave Noynoy victory as president to chart the future of almost 90 million Filipinos.

        For the family, Tarlac has been the battlefield of intense debates, re-alignments, intrigues, competition, which could have been settled at a conference table, to clear the skies of dusty bagas that fall, dirtying and destroying our houses. Yap destroyed it with his mastery of black intrigue. He had served Ninoy, Peping and finally Danding, dependent on their political funds, pitting cousins against each other so that one midnight, he refused to run for governor, fearful the two Cojuangcos, Eduardo and Jose, would come to an agreement and dump him. I ended up filing my certificate of candidacy for governor against Henry. I fought fiercely, especially for the children and farmers, with the very organized machinery of Peping, the hacienda. And we won. The years brought me to two terms until Yap intrigued relatives all over and Henry and I were left without a position in Tarlac while the Yaps remained to govern the province. We gave up Tarlac to a follower whom Ninoy and Peping “fed” for some 50 years while he ascended to power.”

        Chills…sounds like the white man’s Manifest Destiny.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        chills indeed, why do respectable media keep giving space to morons like this one? all because she is a member of the oligarchic class, that is all. . .

      • jethernandez says:

        @ JR2

        Woooooooo… tangna pre… ba’t ngayo ka lang nagsulat dito sa AP. Any person who sees with wisdom the principle of Wilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 rule and the Pareto optimality is a fnckin god! hehehehe… Look at what Pareto did to Hitler… hehehe… joke lang ser.

        In the Pinas… the elites / oligarchs control the factors of production… land, labor, capital. They are the landed and the moneyed class that’s why they control labor and its behaviour. The 20 percent of the population (the ruling elites) controls 80 percent of the land while the 80 percent of the population (the masa) has 20 percent ownership. How do you optimize (not maximize) the factors of production in a banana republic of the opportunists and greedy leisure class such as the Cojuancos, Ayalas, Aquinos, the clan where Pokwang belongs and the Lopezes? … guess this calls for another post… i suggest that we design an integral and multidisciplinary framework for discussion since we all come from different academic disciplines… no flame wars… only statements of facts, analysis and scholarly conclusion and recommendation.

      • Jay says:

        @JR2

        Thanks for the info. I would’ve been given the garbage if I were to learn Rizal in any university course. Though I doubt few would really get into it like how you explained it. Bka masyadong mababaw para sa kanila. Kono na nga kapag nag ingles, eh matututo pa ng Latin? I mean thats the heart of his argument right there, not necessarily what helped made him renown. Many accept him as a hero because he ‘helped’ pinoys but would they still accept him as one if they knew he was a mega-ranter of pinoy culture and above all, the country’s first get-realist?

        @manilapaper

        She’s too much of a wuss to say outright she’s a prophet? My former religion, SDA believed in them but the most popular one just wrote books about how to live your life.

        I like how she had an ‘insight’ in God’s plan, specifically for the little country. You know as if God had some sort of bias for his creation.

        @Jet

        in short, a list of stuff that isn’t non-bullshit? Briliant. Maybe a wikia site of it or a txt file to view on the web like the Pinoy Defense Squad.

  12. Renat0 Pacific0 says:

    It is not the form of the government. It is the people.

    Flips can be a goot citizen in France, Italy, UK and Amerika. Or in Zimbabwe, Tanzania all has different form of government. There they are goot citizen.

    They are goot citizen because the country they are living in are not fellow brown-skin, punk’d nose brothers. LOOKIT, YA’LL! FLIPPERS DOESN’T WANT TO BE RUN BY HIS BROWN-BROTHER because each Flippers believe that thay are the greatest!

    • Dr. José Rizal II says:

      You miss the point, Ren-Pac…

      The form of government can either mitigate the dysfunctional aspects of the culture of a People or it can be perverted by said dysfunctions.

      The Presidential System, for instance, works “fairly well” in both the USA and France because Americans and Frenchmen are generally politically mature people who discuss issues more than they discuss people. The Presidential System, while it is inherently personalistic, is counter-balanced by the political maturity and issues-orientedness of the French and American national characters. Notice that Americans and Frenchmen usually talk about WHY they are for or against one issue or another. Or why they believe {insert advocacy here} is worth fighting for than {insert counter-advocacy here}.

      But for Filipinos who are a personality-centric people, what people talk about are who’s who and “what happened to him or her.” The issues are not about “how to make our lives better” but more along the lines of “who’s dating whom”, “who’s sleeping with whom”, “sino ang kabit ni _____”, etc…

      Petty personality stuff. Not issues. Not surprisingly, our Presidential system’s elections are always about who’s who, as opposed to “what they stand for.”

      Now that’s not how a democracy is run. Real democracies (not small-minded anarchies) are supposed to be about the people discussing real issues and deciding based on issues, not personalities. As such, it is clear that the Presidential System simply does not work with Filipinos because the tendency of Filipinos is to talk about personalities and people, rather than issues.

      In short, the cultural dysfunctions of Pinoys, where Pinoys are overly and extremely personality-oriented totally SPOILS the whole idea of “discussing issues democratically” in the first place, and thus, such culture PERVERTS the practice of democracy within a Presidential System.

      On the other hand, the adoption of a Parliamentary System, because of its very nature as a Party-centric system, as opposed to being a personalistic system, forces Filipinos to compare one party against another (or against numerous others), instead of looking at personalities.

      When people are forced to look at Parties, the first question is: “Why is Party A better than Party B?” The answers are obviously gleaned from looking at what the different parties stand for.

      By drastically reducing the personality aspect, people are forced to look at issues and platforms. And when that happens, Filipinos can start to function in a more proper democratic sense, instead of how it previously was where everything was reduced to a “popularity”, “winnability”, and “name-recall” contest.

      In short, a Parliamentary System can MITIGATE the dysfunctional culture of Pinoys where we are too fixated on people and personalities, and thus shift people towards thinking more about issues, policies, and platforms.

      Remember, the Presidential System requires that its practitioners and participants all RELY ON FAITH that no one is going to “abuse the system” by fielding candidates who are incompetent, but popular enough. Unfortunately, put that in the Philippines, and the system is immediately abused by unscrupulous politicians/kingmakers who decide to field winnable candidates who simply are NOT competent.

      Between the two, the Parliamentary System is the more CEREBRAL ONE which forces the electorate to think about the parties and what they stand for before choosing, and it is also the Parliamentary System that is MERITOCRATIC because the best people rise up to the top of their parties regardless of what kind of personality traits they may have.

      Case in point: India.

      That country has masses of people who are no different from the Pinoy masses. Indians worship their Bollywood stars, we like our Regal, Viva, Star, etc “artistas.” Indians worship their cricketeers, we worship our basketbolistas, boxers, and other athletes.

      But why is it that India, despite having a people who are not too behaviorally-different from Pinoys, NEVER ENDED UP WITH PRIME MINISTERS or top officials who were Bollywood stars or star athletes, while the Philippines has had Erap, almost had FPJ, and just recently ALMOST HAD ERAP AGAIN?!?

      Answer: India’s Parliamentary System makes it next to impossible for popular/winnable but INCOMPETENT PEOPLE to ever rise up to become leader of a party and hence become Prime Minister, while the Philippines’ Presidential System is all about name-recall and winnability.

      Guess what… If the Philippines shifted over to a Parliamentary System, it doesn’t matter what kind of people we have, the way the system works will immediately prevent or severely hamper the ascent of incompetent-but-popular celebrities into becoming top politicians.

      So Renato Pacifico… You need to change your idea. The Form of Government DOES HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE PEOPLE.

  13. Pingback: The Philippines’ Road Ahead, Part 2: A Unitary System or a Federal System? | Anti-Pinoy :)

  14. ME says:

    agree with the third rule.. no one should be bias like ABiaS CBN.. who the fuck they are.. saying that they were trusted by the filipino people.. look what they’ve done ..what kind of media they are.. protecting someone??? nah..

    (looking forward after june 30)

  15. Renat0 Pacific0 says:

    The only way is OUTSOURCE THE GOVERNMENT! The Filipinos are soo corrupt that corruption is already part of our cultural trait.

    The Filipinos are bigoted and racist that If I have to point this out I always end up giving examples. Filipinos are so oblivious of their corruption, bigotry and racism that is why we all end up giving examples what is bigotry, racism and corruption.

    CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT CANNOT WORK. OUTSOURCING OF OUR GOVERNMENT IS THE ONLY SOLUTION.

    I have several countries in mind:

    North Korea
    China
    Vietnam
    Burma

    They can turn Filipinos around in one year …. GUARANTEED!!!! PAYPAL ACCEPTED!

  16. Renat0 Pacific0 says:

    Oh, by the way, which comes first changing the media? Or, changing the constitution? Or, changing the Filipinos?

  17. GCL says:

    Dear Jose Rizal,

    I agree with you that Jose Rizal may have designed his Noli for the “educated” but you have to remember that while it was the Ilustrados like Rizal, Luna and their European-educated comrades effected the revolution, these were all sparked by the original struggles started by Hermano Pule. Reynaldo Ileto’s book Pasyon and Revolution shows the significance of that first struggle’s impact into a series of interconnected events that lead towards the revolution. From the seemingly insignificant spark of Hermano Pule to the Katipunan and to Gomburza to and to the blaze that was Rizal.

    If we actually look back to the values that which was present amongst the Filipinos always seeking for the “Liwanag” and a deeper understanding of the “Pasyon”, there we begin to understand that the Filipino had something that was deeply rooted in the true and good. It was corrupted by the foreign elites of Spain through their use of the selfish locals who eventually became the elite and from whom we can still trace the the line with todays economic and politlical oligarchs. Prior to that, the Filipinos already did trade with Japan and the dutch merchants who were more respectful and considered the Filipinos as co-equals (except during WWII).

    My point is that it is still in the power of the Filipino masses to realize that the trick is in their own hands. What is most important is the more discerning, like the AP community, begin to find more creative ways to re-connect the masses to the idea of reason.

    In the turn of this century, a third force became relevant in many global debates. The Seattle Debacle which pitted Civil Society against the hegemonic purposes of Governments and Businesses through the WTO and GATT was an expression of the power of Culture and thus of ordinary people.

    Education is key to this if we are to create a critical mass that will overthrow these elite and elitist powers. We have to go back to the people. They won’t understand? That is our burden…you and me, the AP community who can see better, discern better. We have to find better ways to communicate. While AP is a laudable arena, the real battle is in the Field. We are here preaching to the converted already. How can we make our message digestible to those who voted for Noynoy, Erap, and the rest of the traditional politicians who are now about to bring us to a nosedive?

    Rudolf Steiner said “The world outside man is a riddle where man is the biggest riddle and man is its solution”. Any leader who thinks that good governance is only about the government is a half-blind man leading an herd of blind constituents.

  18. GCL says:

    let me add: “the real battle is in the field of ignorance amongst the masses”.

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  21. It’s hard to come by experienced people in this particular subject, but
    youu sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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