Is This the Last Independence Day Before the Return of Authoritarianism?
Today is Independence Day in the Philippines. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s term as President will end in 2010. Under the Constitution, she cannot go beyond that. But her allies in Congress recently passed House Resolution 1109, enabling them to convene a constituent Asembly without the Senate to craft a new constitution. With this new charter, the present bicameral-presidential form of government will be changed into a unicameral-parliamentary form. The Members of Parliament – the same congressmen perceived and denounced as being on the payroll of Arroyo – are in turn expected to elect her as Prime Minister. But this British-type set-up also gives Parliament the right to overthrow Arroyo in a vote of no confidence. So in the future, Prime Minister Arroyo is expected to convince her MPs, by whatever means at her disposal, to revert to a French-type parliament. Arroyo can then be both President with an indefinite term and Prime Minister with the power to dissolve Parliament. This is one of the likeliest scenarios in Philippine politics in the future – the same thing that happened when Marcos created the unicameral rubberstamp Batasang Pambansa in the 1970s.
June 10, 2007 Anti-Con-Ass Makati rally photo courtesy of WINWAB.com