Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Conservative People Power?

Political scientists and constitutionalists distinguish between various types of democracy. Some favor a more direct form of democracy with referenda, popular initiatives and other forms of grass roots involvement in the political decision making process. Others support the representative model of democratic government where democratically elected representatives act as go-betweens and speak and govern on behalf of the sovereign people. Many modern democracies have constitutions that provide a mixture of direct and representative elements of government.

I am mentioning this against the backdrop of the ongoing debates in political circles in the Philippines, where the president and her allies have initiated a nation-wide campaign aimed at collecting millions of signatures in support for amending the constitution. According to one columnist, President Arroyo is now deploying people power to tap her rural based constituencies.

Not a few Filipino observers argue that the progressive methodology of asking and including the masses in the political decision making process is not for real as it aims at a fundamentally conservative objective: to secure the political survival of the president and her allies.

This argument is heard again and again from the disunited opposition: Having little to match the patronage resources reportedly put into action by the supporters of charter change, the oppositionists are aware that they cannot rely on the masses for their anti-cha cha agenda.

tags philippines

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Blogger peterlavina said...

Yes, that is the irony of it all. All sides claim to speak for and in behalf of the "people."

12:28 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

hi pro-blogging peter ... the problem seems to be that the people are not really included in all the debates and processes. basically, that's what democracy is about. here's where democratic institutions come in.

10:09 AM  
Blogger rios del prado said...

Dear RM,

People’s initiative definitely won’t prosper in the absence of an enabling law. Not even the CHACHA being pushed in the House of Representatives by Speaker JDV and his minions. They are now salivating (laway na laway na talaga in Filipino) and moving heaven and earth just to revise the present Constitution no matter what it takes.

The 195 votes of members or three fourths of Congress votes that they are needing to revise the present Constitution is meaningless and a waste of time (even if they succeed) if the Senate is not concurring.

JDV and company are treating the revision of the Constitution almost like a simple motion such as changing the House rules or approving a simple resolution giving tribute to a former colleague who passed away or declaring a certain committee in the House vacant.

They knew all along that bicameral system of legislature, that the Senate and the House of Representatives always vote separately on all bills and resolutions. Even the renaming or conversion of streets needs the two houses voting separately. The Constitution, ratified by the majority of the Filipino people during a plebiscite is the fundamental law of the land and that by rule of implication can only be changed by a like or greater number.

This argument finds support not only in law but in science or natural law as well, which postulates that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. The amendment or revision to the Constitution should not be treated like a simple motion requiring only the House of Representatives to approve. It would affect the future of the Filipino people and this is not simple.

By the way, can you refer me to a person on how to go about my blog? I suspect my blog is being hacked. It was okey yesterday. I sent email to all my classmates in Express Yourself Seminar and informed them of my new blogsite. I also wrote some comments on Quezon’s blog with my email and blogsite filled-up as required. Now, I can only open my blogsite but I can’t post, edit or write anything as there is a message that pops up saying the internet explorer is having a problem, then the webpage was gone. I can’t even go to blogger.com/start to register a new blog. However, I can open any other blog but mine.

Thanks RM.

7:20 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

thanks for your comment. i cherish your opinion, and also like your reference to dialectics: for every action there must be a reaction; where the is one opinion, there will always be a different view. the beauty of liberal democracy is that these differences are settled in a constitutional manner. as to your technical blogging problems: i know of one who can certainly help you, he is abe olandres! greetings and hope to hear more from you soon.

1:05 PM  
Blogger rios del prado said...

Thanks for the info RM, the following are additional views and comments on charter change. i find the topic very relevant and timely so i am taking this opportunity to talk about it. let's keep in touch.

It’s very clear now that the congressmen who keep on nagging and banging the Senate for not approving their road conversion bills have managed to shoot two birds in one stone. They are blaming the Senate for its inaction on their proposed bills and that our country does not need the Senate anymore because of the delays. Thus, the unicameral is the right system for us thereby the need to amend, rewrite or revise our Constitution is indeed imperative according to thesehonorable (sic) members of Congress.

How in heaven’s name the Senate would approve proposed bills like the mountainous barangay roads to be converted into a national road? Barangay and sitio roads leading to farmlands to be considered a national road? Barangay roads whose dwellers count to less than a thousand people with no major seaports, airports, ferry terminals, and tourist destinations to brag about be converted into a national road?

Here in Metro Manila even the busy Mayon St., which borders Manila and Quezon City, is not a national road. There are hundreds of roads more in Metro Manila with over 5,000 in population are still classified only as city or barangay roads because these are not meritorious enough to become a national road.

Most, if not all of these congressmen are proponents of charter change and they are chanting the unicameral-federal system as the most fitting form of government for us. Yet, they are asking that their roads be converted into a national road. What federalism they are talking about? Why? Is it because the national government would provide a five percent allocation from the total road maintenance fund to be set aside for the maintenance of local roads? Is there a so-called SOP available for grab then? Is the current pork barrel still not enough? Just asking.

5:31 PM  
Blogger meinardus said...

... you know better than i do about the preferences of philippine congressmen and women. i only know that in the end of the day politics should transcend the level of the character of a road. by the way, i know many philippine politicians who would agree with me.

12:11 AM  

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