Quezon City , Oct . 19 (PNA ConCom Press Center)

Let me sum up some of the highlights in the ongoing debate in the Consultative Commission on the form of government as of October 17, 2005.

What’s wrong with our present presidential government? Why do we want to change it? (We have had presidential government since 1946 when we regained our independence from the United States, except under the Marcos dictatorship).

1. Separation of executive power of the President and legislative power of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) causes intense rivalry and competition for power among them. Especially because, like the president, the 24 senators are elected nationwide. Constant conflict and gridlock between the President and the House and the Senate, and too many congressional investigations, delay and obstruct legislation and reforms.

2. Because of the power of the media and cinema, candidates for President and the Senate are increasingly being elected for their personal popularity or “win-ability” and wealth rather than political leadership.

3. Very difficult and divulsive to change the President by impeachment.

4. Unstable because the President may want to extend his term of office by amending the Constitution (Manuel L. Quezon in 1940), or by Martial Law (Ferdinand Marcos in 1972). Unstable because of “people power” and military intervention in politics in changing an incumbent President without impeachment (Joseph Estrada in 2001).

5. Rising cost of elections, especially national election of President and senators, corrupt the system. It takes long to determine the results of nationwide elections without automation.

6. Because our political parties are weak, undemocratic, unstable, and not program-oriented, our leaders and political parties cannot be held responsible and accountable to the people. With power diffused and the leadership fragmented it is difficult to know who is responsible and accountable for the success or failure of governance.

Why do we want a parliamentary government? What are its expected advantages over our presidential government?

1. In a parliamentary government, Parliament exercises both legislative power and executive power. Parliament will therefore ensure the coordinated, efficient and effective exercises of legislative and executive powers – the making of laws and policies and their implementation. Especially if we have a unicameral parliament (only one house or chamber).

2. The Prime Minister and the Government (the governing party headed by the Prime Minister0 assume collective responsibility and accountability to the Parliament and the people for governance. The people will know whom to reward for good governance and administration, or punish for failure and corruption.

3. Parliament government is more likely to ensure the election of the head of government – the Prime Minister – for his leadership and experience in the party and in the public service, as known to party members.

4. It will help prevent election of the head of government on the basis largely of wealth, personal popularity, or “win-ability,” not on proven competence and experience.

5. Easier to change the head of government and the ruling party whenever it becomes necessary by a vote of no confidence in the parliament. No need for impeachment, people power revolts and military intervention that cause political instability, disrupt the economy, discourage foreign investors and hurt the people, especially the poor.

6. Will develop political parties that are democratic, disciplined, united and effective in making and carrying out a program of government that can secure popular support.

7. It empowers the people to choose not only the candidates for the Parliament but also the political party they want to govern the country and the regional and local governments.

8. The people elect the members of Parliament among candidates in the parliamentary districts and also by proportional representation of the rival political parties in the parliamentary election (party list of all political parties). It will be easier and faster to administer elections and proclaim in the winning candidates.

9. It will reduce the high cost of electing the head of government, by choosing the leader of the majority party (or coalition) in Parliament as Prime Minister.

10. The selection of additional members of Parliament through proportional representation of the political parties (party list of all political parties) will let the leading political party select competent leaders (among professionals, business leaders, scholars) to serve in parliament and the Cabinet. These are leaders who are not willing to run for public office.

Most stable and progressive countries in the world have a parliamentary government. These include Japan, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and also India, Singapore and Malaysia in Asia.

In sum, a parliamentary government will help us to have good governance: ang mabuti at mabisang pamamalakad ng ating gobyerno at bayan.

Charter change to a parliamentary government, along with decentralization and devolution of powers, will enable us, Filipinos, to respond more efficiently and effectively to our problems, meet our challenges, achieve our goals as a nation, and compete in the global economy.

Charter change to a parliamentary government will help us to reduce poverty and corruption. It will empower us to achieve the peace, prosperity, justice and security we all want for ourselves and our children.

Government will be better able to help in attracting investments, creating more jobs, raising incomes, providing better education, health, welfare and security to our people. And we can build and maintain more schools, hospitals, waterworks, roads, bridges, seaports and airports. (PNA ConCom Press Center)


Jose V. Abueva, Chairman, Consultative Commission