Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cha-Cha, Political Parties and trapos

Whether one likes it or not, the political class of the Philippines will dance the cha-cha for months to come. The president’s party is seriously proposing to have a plebiscite and a transformation to an interim parliamentary government by the end of June 2006. Whether this is realistic, is another matter altogether. This government is not famed for adhering to deadlines, and I am not only referring to the airport…

Let’s assume that once the information (or propaganda) campaign for the new constitution kicks off sometime after Holy Week, the public will have a closer look at the 64 pages the delegates of the Consultative Commission (ConCom) filled with ink.

Just how progressive this country is may be seen at the fact that the full text of the proposal is available online, but not yet in print. This may still take some weeks, Con Com Chair Dr. Abueva told foreign correspondents at a forum in Manila on Monday.

I downloaded and read the text a few days ago. Some sections I find very remarkable. Today, I will only share some brief comments regarding references in the draft to political parties.

Among the most impressive sections I find the following.

“Political parties shall observe fair, honest and democratic processes
in the selection of their candidates. They shall ensure the integrity,loyalty, and discipline of their members and publicly account for the sources and use of their funds and for their assets.”

Wow! I nearly forgot, they were talking about the Philippines. I really wonder how they’ll manage to get this organized in less than half a year. Implementing such a provision in the existing political parties comes close to a political revolution.

The political class has been talking about democratizing political parties for many years. Just how serious their intentions have been, is proven by the fact that practically nothing in that direction has happened. And now, they will do it in a few weeks?

Democratic political parties are of strategic importance for democratic consolidation and progress. With the envisioned shift to a parliamentary system of government the (constitutional) role of political parties will increase immensely. But in reality, the parties are nowhere close to meet the envisioned new obligations. Maybe their leaders don’t even want them to be. This, at least, is what my favorite lady Senator (when she has a good day) insinuates::

“A parliamentary government run by trapos (traditional politicians) will simply mean that trapos and not the people will choose our head of government. Without principled political parties, the highest post will become a trophy for the highest bidder.”
(Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17.1. 2006)

One could add that the same applies also for all other posts.


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Blogger jeff-reiji said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. It's a pleasure meeting you on the book launching by Monday. :)

12:23 PM  

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