Why Gloria Arroyo's Cha-Cha Could Be The Worst Thing To Happen To Our Country

This piece was originally written as a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Manila Times [December 2006] and BusinessMirror [January 2007]. Unfortunately, it is still relevant. Some Filipino politicians are magicians. They use hocus-pocus on their elections and abracadabra on their term limits. Their oath to protect the Constitution is an illusion. The proponents of parliamentarism use misdirection, sleights-of-hand and nebulous chants like “Gridlock.” But there are also 6 concrete reasons why they should stop their tricks. 1. The problem is the people and not the system. Character has nothing to do with the form of government: a good citizen will assume responsibility for his actions whether he’s under a President, Prime Minister or Chancellor; a greedy politician will steal whether they call him Congressman, Assemblyman or MP. The best deterrent against abuse is responsible oversight with punitive sanctions .Another crucial factor is our cultural habit of contaminating on-paper feasibility with graft and influence peddling (i.e., checkpoints, military pensions, the electricity stock market, PCGG, MMDA). Equity of the incumbent does not mean “What are we in power for?” There is absolutely no reason to become parliament unless he Philippines is joining the European Union. 2. The proponents of unicameral parliamentarism are engaging in doublespeak. It is duplicity to cite successful parliaments without saying that they are all bicameral (i.e., Britain’s House of Lords and House of Commons; Japan’s House of Representatives and House of Councilors; Germany’s Bundestag and Reichstag). The fact that parliamentarism leads to partisan backstabbing and political blackmail (i.e., the Tories expelled Churchill for criticizing Chamberlain’s policies against free trade in 1904; Syria’s Assad forced the Lebanese parliament to extend the puppet Lahoud’s term in 2004) is not mentioned at all. 3. It is proven that a solid check-and-balance mechanism is vital because it’s part of our Filipino culture to abuse power. In 1972, Martial Law was declared with the ultimate aim of one-party unicameral parliament without term limits – and the Senate, media, political opposition, freedom of assembly, the Constitution and the Supreme Court were abolished. The President used anarchy as an excuse for emergency powers to cancel the 1973 presidential elections. In 2006, Martial Law was about to be declared with the ultimate aim of a one-party unicameral parliament without term limits – but the U.S. Government intervened. Instead, there was E.O. 464 (against the Senate); Proclamation 1017 (against media and political opposition); the Calibrated Pre-emptive response (against freedom of assembly) and the People’s Initiative signature drive (against the Constitution) – but the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional. An attempt to place an administration ally as the next Chief Justice backfired. An attempt to postpone the 2007 elections also failed. An attempt to convene a Constituent Assembly without the Senate nor even 2/3 of the House ended disastrously. The gameplan now is a Constitutional Convention with last-term administration congressmen and their allies as delegates. A clear and present danger is a plebiscite fraud given the Comelec’s track record. Time will reveal if the President will use anarchy as an excuse for emergency powers to cancel the 2010 presidential elections – or even the 2007 midterm. 4. It is proven that one-party unicameral parliaments always result in corrupt dictatorships – and always end in violent revolutions. This was the fate of Sukarno of Indonesia; U Nu of Burma; Mirza of Pakistan; Peron of Argentina; Batista of Cuba; Selassie of Ethiopia; Somoza of Nicaragua; Duvalier of Haiti; Bao Dai and Ngo Din Diem of Vietnam; and Saddam of Iraq, to name a few. If Marcos was toppled peacefully, it is because Cory Aquino was the clear winner in the snap polls; the coup leaders were trapped in Camp Crame ; and Cardinal Sin was still alive. It should be noted the “The World’s Biggest Thief” in the Guinness Records is the head of a one-party unicameral parliament without term limits. On the other hand, multi-party bicameral parliaments are historical evolutions of monarchies (i.e., France , Italy , Spain , Thailand ). Subsequently, their former colonies adapted that form (i.e., Britain ’s India , Singapore , Malaysia and Australia ). It is self-evident that their success lies in their people and not their system. 5. It is proven that presidential-bicameral is the most effective political structure in history. The U.S. Founding Fathers framed their Constitution using Montesquieu’s ideas of a two-house Legislative branch and an untouchable Judiciary in 1787. Since then, the United States has progressed to be the richest and most powerful nation in the world. With the same Constitution for over two centuries, none of their 43 Presidents ever tried to perpetuate himself in power. If we hear about their mistakes, like the Abu Ghraib and FEMA fiascoes, it is because they regard freedom of the press and the right to demand accountability as sacred trusts. This is why Americans are proud to be Americans. 6. It is proven that the presidential-bicameral form is perfect for the Philippines . With a directly elected president and an independent two-house Congress, our country has achieved unprecedented economic prosperity and political stability under Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, and the early years of Marcos. The downward spiral began during Marcos’ legally doubtful second term: ambition blinded him – and he summoned the nightmares of Absolute Power that still haunt us even after more than three decades. But in a larger sense, the most compelling argument against parliamentarism is the Arroyo administration itself. A public office is not a blank cheque, but the Cha-cha Express is like Mussolini’s Fascist train: it runs over people just to arrive on time. President Gloria Arroyo has already backtracked, but she should also realize that word of honor is non-negotiable. A President “has one profound duty to the nation: to exert moral leadership,” to quote the great U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. A President “should stand, visible and uncompromising, for what is right and decent -- in government, in the business community, in the private lives of the citizens. For decency is one of the main pillars of a sound civilization. An immoral nation invites its own ruin.” Photo of Batasang Pambansa courtesy of VistaPilipinas.com


Shen said…
I think that if cha-cha succeeds our country will be in the brink of a civil war.

I am calling upon everyone to unite behind a man that is incorruptible... Let us join and be part of the movement supporting Nicanor "Nick" Perlas...