Abolish Congress and the Presidency

Anti-pork protesters gather in front of the House of Representatives as former Nabcor vice president Rhodora Mendoza  Photos By Miguel De Guzman

Anti-pork protesters gather in front of the House of Representatives as former Nabcor vice president Rhodora Mendoza
Photos By Miguel De Guzman

The exposés on the misuse—outright robbery actually—of pork barrel funds by members of Congress have scandalized the nation by its magnitude and gall. It has shocked the nation so much that terms for Congress like “the country’s biggest criminal syndicate” (as my colleague Tony Lopez called it) and “Houses of Corruption” have become viral in social media.

It’s not even the usual suspects, like Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla whom this administration thinks they are, who are involved. Even lawmakers who have not been tainted by any charge of corruption before are exposed as skimmers of pork barrel money. How could a congressman like Matias Defensor, for instance, allocate P99 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to the Matias Defensor, Sr., Foundation? How could P550 million in pork barrel funds, P19 million from former Speaker Jose de Venecia, be given to Aaron Foundation, whose address the Commission on Audit found is an empty lot in Gagalangin, Tondo?

So-called religious types in the present administration like Joel Villanueva (son of “Brother Eddie”), who boasts that he has rid TESDA of corruption, and Customs head Ruffy Biazon (said to be an ardent “born-again”), going by the COA’s data, helped themselves to pork barrel funds when they were congressmen.

Will the Ombudsman be able to pin down the roughly 150 lawmakers involved in the scam? Check out the realities. The Ombudsman receives 15,000 graft complaints yearly to add to its pending cases, which appear to be so huge that the office’s annual report doesn’t even bother to count them.

How many staff does the Ombudsman have to investigate these complaints? Some 200, only 40 of whom are lawyers and the remaining 160 basically researcher-clerks, which means one staff (lawyer or not) handles 75 cases per year. How many Ombudsman lawyers are prosecuting the 2,500 pending cases at the Sandiganbayan?

Some 80 lawyers, or one lawyer per 30 cases. Do those numbers make you confident senators and congressmen exposed to have stolen taxpayers’ money will land in jail?

But complaints at the Ombudsman indeed do get prosecuted and the corrupt convicted but mostly after 20 years, as the Ombudsman’s annual report boasts in its 2011 report: a complaint over the misuse of Mt. Pinatubo rehabilitation funds, in 1992.

Let’s face it. Corruption is so prevalent in our country and our institutions to combat it are utterly helpless. While the Million People marches do fan people’s outrage against corruption in Congress and a corrupt government, these, unless they topple a government, merely make front-page news for one day and forgotten the next.

As is being exposed, President Aquino’s “matuwid na daan” slogan is inutile in curbing corruption, having been merely his Lord Voldemort kind of Killing Curse against his predecessor in his fairy-tale land.

It is certainly not that we Filipinos are more corrupt than people in other countries.

In this day and age, we cannot but rely on reason to guide us, and in this case we have to consult findings of political scientists who have comprehensively studied the phenomenon of corruption. One such study was conducted by three political scientists for the World Bank, titled “Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter.” The study was rigorous in that it calculated the actual relationship of several factors to corruption in some 200 countries for over two decades.

The study found that there are four institutional factors that reduce corruption, the first three being democracy (as opposed to dictatorship, and our Marcos authoritarian era is certainly a proof of this), freedom of the press, and at least 20 years of uninterrupted democracy.

We all have these three factors, certainly with our rambunctious, even if often biased press, and we’ve had 27 years of uninterrupted democracy.

The fourth institution that reduces corruption, which we don’t have, according to the study, is a parliamentary system. The study found incontrovertible evidence that countries with presidential systems tend to be more corrupt. While it is beyond the study’s aims to explain why a parliamentary system tends to be less corrupt, other studies point out the following reasons.

Because an administration can be changed anytime by a vote of no-confidence, the disincentive against corruption is greater. In presidential systems, a ruling power can simply hold on to power until its term ends, with impeachment being a messy, protracted process that is seldom undertaken.

Parliamentary systems provide more checks on the executive since its ministers—drawn from members of parliament—can be called to task at any time by Parliament, which basically consists of their peers, to explain an allegation or even a rumor of corruption.

There is no Senate in a parliamentary system, especially our unique kind whose members are elected on a national scale, unlike that in the US in which senators are elected per state. The Senate, as has become evident in the pork barrel exposes, is proving to be a den of thieves, whose criminal activities presidents have turned a blind eye on, since they’ve always needed senators’ support not only for their legislative agenda but for their nationwide political bases.

Parliamentary systems tend to be decentralized systems. The body of lawmakers in a parliamentary system is basically a collection of local political leaders, expected to take care of their local constituents. Why would they need a circuitous pork barrel system when they can demand agencies to equitably distribute their projects to their districts, if these are being neglected?

And finally, a parliamentary system ensures that the country’s chief executive is not some aging actor whom the masses confused for his screen roles or the son of a recently deceased heroine voted into office on a wave of condolences.

A parliamentary system is one in which the most capable of running the government is chosen by his or her peers, who can’t be fooled by name recall or movie stature. In a parliamentary system, you certainly won’t get incompetents who acquire vast political power as senators just because of their famous fathers or just because they tried to undertake a clumsy coup against an unpopular administration.

“Abolish Congress, have the lawmakers commit hara-kiri in front of the TV cameras,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the other day when asked what her solution was to curb corruption in Congress. While she probably said that in jest, she may have inadvertently hit the nail right on the head.

Abolish Congress, but abolish the presidency too, and move to a parliamentary system.

It’s not coincidence that we’re listed high in the corruption lists of Southeast Asian countries and at the same time the only country with a centralized presidential system. (Indonesia is presidential but has a federal system in which regions have vastly bigger powers than in ours.)

If all this outrage over the pork barrel mega-scam will lead to anything really good, it is for us to shed our biases and recognize that we do need to change our system to a parliamentary one.

www.rigobertotiglao.com and www.trigger.ph


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  1. Honorio C. Cabanilla on

    If you abolish the Presidency and Congress, who will take their place? The Supreme Court and the lower courts? If so, the situation will be worse because so many judges and ex-judges are also corrupt. I observed this first hand while I was practicing law in the Philippines. Par-pareho na sila! Look at CJ Corona!

  2. A vicious dog with a different collar would still be a vicious dog. Changing the form of government will not change the current affairs in the Philippines. Changing who we elect in the positions of power will. Changing the voters way will. At present what we have are not elections but popularity contests. The popular ones are the one elected. Not their qualifications, nor their experience or what they can bring towards the betterment of the Philippines. What we ought to do is to re-educate the voters. Democracy is a participatory institution. They have to participate in a constructive way. Educating the voters, I believe is the way to go.

  3. Evelyn Patterson on

    Why not ?We can be prosperous by deleting Congress that will sa ve the country
    money and further deterioration.



  5. The temptation of sex, money and power has many legislators blinded themselves and resulting to stealing, manipulation, and even killing in order to achieve and satisfy their greed, lust, and atta.chment.

    No matter what system the country will have, the unscrupulous will be able to find a way to engage his/her unethical activities.

    The best way is to charge them, confiscate their assets, and put them in jail for the rest of their biological life. This will serve as a lesson to the new comers in our political system.

    In some other countries, these unscrupulous government officials could be executed to serve the justice for the people.

  6. Philippines for decades has been plundered by many known notorious political dynasties and still unable to get out from the vicious cycle. The problems are mainly due to the people’s lack of political education, their stupidity, greed, immoral, poverty, low self-esteem, and patronage system. They easily fall into the prey of the unscrupulous politician. The only way to get out of this corrupt system is to bring all the perpetrators to the full extend of justice without hesitation or delay; in addition to the educating of the people on the consequence of wrong choice of their candidates. Remember, the power of those government elected officials such as the legislators come from the people. If these people were fooled by their representatives, obviously it is the people’s own fault.

  7. AS EARLY AS 1987, I made a proposal to then Secretary of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Raul S. Manglapuz, in a written form (17 pages) for the late President Cory’s consideration, which was actually a product of our trips (with Sen. NiNoy-81’/83′) in Asean neighbors’ form of governance, either as Federal, Parliamentary or constitutional Monarchial Systems of government. Its a consolidation of consultations among the leaders we visited during our visits.!….Perhaps its about time now, we Filipinos – through Congress before considering (abolishing) must first consult its every constituency’s consensus……Framers… must study very carefully its EFFECT!!!>>>w/mvnoy@comcast.net

  8. Except for the part of this news article which i disagree:

    “There is no Senate in a parliamentary system”

    Actually, there are 2nd/upper chambers in parliamentary democracies/republics but unlike the way the members of our upper chamber, which is the senate, are elected. Like in Australia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Canada, UK, and etc. Normally, members of the upper chamber in parliamentary countries are elected by region/province. Some others were by appointment by the head of state base on merits (with or without the head of government’s/prime minister’s recommendation). The member’s of our senate were elected on a national scale the same way our president is elected, but, it worked horribly and thus, only in da pilipins can be found this type of 24 member-senate. Unlike in the US which members of their senate are elected by state (it’s like a region here in the Philippines but in a different title of a territorial and political division/sub-state) and are weaker than the 1st chamber/lower chamber which is their house of representatives.

    Upper chambers in a parliamentary system has much less power than the lower house and also have features like:
    1. Only limited legislative matters, such as :

    A. Lack of control over the executive branch.

    B. A reduced role in initiating legislation.

    C. No power to block supply, or budget measures (a rare example of a Parliamentary upper house that does possess this power is the Australian Senate, which notably exercised that power in 1975)

    D. Constitutional amendments, but requires its approval

    2. It is a house of review which cannot veto legislation, nor initiate legislation on money, though suspensive vetoes are permitted in some countries.

    3. In parliamentary system, it often cannot vote a motion of no confidence against the government, while the lower house always can.


    Additional: We actually had a correct parliamentary system back in 1898 which is the malolos constitution. But, speaking of the 1973 Constitution, it is only parliamentary in paper (but still wrong because the head of government is also the commander in chief of the armed forces instead of the head of state) because of Martial law but because of extra amendments in 1976 and in 1979, it worked as a semi-presidential system after the lift of martial law.

  9. I agree to change the present government to parliamentary form of government as what other countries did because we are already left behind.and this is the best time.

  10. Fernando Habito on

    Abolish Congress,Presidency and Family Political Dynasties by creating Transparent and Accountable Parliamentary System of government can be good for the country.Time came that old political system created more corruptions and problems.It’s time to change..!

  11. These lawmakers are really looking out for each other. They call them lawmakers but for who, to protect themselves. Example, why in the hell an impeached high ranking official still ran for office and was elected. Only in the Philippines! The law must change. SOON. Let them think twice if they are up to something. Don’t just put them to jail, cut both hands and then feet depending how much they stole. 1M per feet or hand or something else.

    • Reynaldo De Guzman on

      Only a major revolution will put the corrupt lawmakers to jail, I don’t think Penoy will be able to do it. Look at what happened in Panatag shoal, now off limits to Pilipino fishermen.

  12. Parliamentary system is it.The idea is long overdue. Now who will start the ball rolling in facebook?

    • Nieves Godinez on

      Check out CoRRECT.org. It has long been campaigning for constitutional reform. I am glad Mr. Tiglao came up with this article. I salute you sir, this is our only redemption, a shift to parliamentary system of government.

    • correctphilippines(dot)org has started the ball rolling. We are also in facebook spreading the benefits of Constitutional reform. We are fighting for economic liberalistation, federalism and Parliamentary form of government

    • The first thing to be done is for Pnoy to declare Martial Law then call for a constitutional convention -dissolve Congress and recommend a Parliamentary system and then call for elections as soon as possible this way order is restored. The Judicial System will prosecute all involved in the pork barrel scam to punish those who stole from the people regardless of their political affiliation. Other pending cases should be expedited according to the evidence at hand. Time should be utilized as soon as possible not years that it takes for anything Philippine style–time to change for the benefit of the people.

  13. The only people who defend the status quo are those who benefit from it and would stand to lose if the current system is changed. The problem is that these are the same people who run the government and whose decision will decide if we should have change or not. This means that if we want change, we will have to get rid of the people who now run the government and that is not going to be an easy undertaking.

  14. for us Filipinos to allow this to happen for decades the fact that we all know this is happening is just make us inutile. maybe we need a real revolution and not a phony yellow people power revolution which only changed uniforms and business as usual. Parliamentary so be it but when is this parliamentary going to happen? after 10 yrs. of debating? we are so slow in moving.

  15. 1. Put the senators/congressmen plunderers in JAIL. Regular jail cells sa Bilibid. No special accommodation.

    2. Abolish congress and presidential form of government and replaced with Parliamentary form BUT: TRIM DOWN THE NUMBERS OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ELIMINATE PARTY-LISTS representatives.

  16. I think this is the best solution, abolish Congress and the Office of the President. Amend our constitution to parliamentary form of government. Let go of the corrupt politicians.

  17. Abolish Congress and the Presidency. But if there would be a new election, all elected officials from the present and immediate past administration can be elected nor be appointed to any position in the new government. This is to lessen the chances of those corrupt officials to make a comeback, ditto with their immediate relatives to get rid of political dynasty once and for all.

    • correction:The second sentence should be: But if there would be a new election, all elected officials from the present and immediate past administration cannot run and be elected, nor be appointed to any position in the new. government.

  18. Primer Pagunuran on

    Why burn or bomb the building to counter the criminal?

    Innocent lives must be saved or freed.

    • Ang alam kong senador na hindi ginamit ang kanilang pork tulad ni Ping at Joker ay wala na sila sa senado ngayon. Tapos na termino nila dalawa.

      Sa lower house, puro mga buwaya nandun, Sino ang sinasabi mong inosente sa kanila? Please name a few.

  19. Voice from the Wilderness on

    Yes, abolish Congress and demand that the present inept president and vice president to resign and let the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court take over as head of the government on the interim until a new constitution adoptable to the country’s temperament is written and a general election be held thereafter. The timetable should be that it will completed within six months.

  20. We can all dream, it’s free. Replacing the existing make of our government to a parliamentary institution, is like suggesting Filipino politicians to stop stealing, so this is not gonna happen in our lifetime. The short remedy for the present issue (pork barrel scam) is for Aquino to grow some balls and insist the politicians involved in this WILL go to jail. Suffice to say, the Filipino folks have grown institutionally cynical and believe that the scam is just another “blockbuster news” that earns good ratings for the local news.

  21. Wilfredo Sescon on

    I fully agree. Abolish congress and the presidency! Put to jail all the corrupt politicians so we will have a clean slate when we change to parliamentary system of government.

  22. New Zealand has the 2nd least corruption in the world. It has a parliamentary system. Filipinos are are most welcome to study the New Zealand parliamentary system of governance, accountable mechanisms and auditing. There is elections every 3 years. Australia also has a parliamentary system worth studying. These are two developed countries within the Asia pacific region.

  23. China will invade the Philippines soon because they need the resources of the country such as the Philippines. Under Chinese rule the Philippines will get rid of corruption since mass executions are in order. These so called law makers have to die and the communist party of the people should take over.

  24. There is no need to abolish the congress nor the presidency. Suweldohan na lang natin ang mga congresmen. There job is not an extra ordinary one, gumagawa ka lang ng naman sila ng batas. They don’t need a body guards, sports cars, bullet proof cars and a bunch of secretaries. They don’t even entitled to get another extra pay or allowance if they’re assigned to a different congressional committees, because it is part of their job.

  25. God bless the Philippines. I pray protect the Filipino people from the big time Lolongs. The house of corruption has instituted an enterprise of Kleptocracy. I am sad and very angry.

  26. I would like to change the amount stolen instead of 50 billion it should only be 10 billion, yes only 10 billion pesos, imagine that 10 billion pesos, how much is that in Canadian dollars or US dollars, I guess more than enough to probably feed all the citizen of the Philippines in 10 years…

  27. Yes, why not make the Philippines a Parliamentary government, I am originally from the Philippines, went to Canada during the Martial Law era, and never heard Canada being a corrupt government, they have a Parliamentary government, and it is better run, better health care, and social government. People are happy, friendly, and one thing there might be some people that are poor, but being poor is they don’t live on the streets, they also have roof over their heads and televisions, or maybe one car. I am so disgusted how the Philippines turned out, I grew up in Manila, educated in Manila, during the 50’s and 60’s, but decided to leave when Marcos declared martial law, my husband and I decided, this is not the kind of life we want for our children, we want them to be free to chose want they want with their lives, not being controlled by Marcos, I thanked Mrs Cory Aquino for toppling that kind of government, but its to late, a lot of people left already, mostly educated ones that the other country open their door for us. The Philippines lost a lot of educated people during those times, and still losing a lot of talent and educated people this time, because there is no job for them, to survive to feed their families. In the meantime, one person can steal 50 billions pesos, and not be noticed for along time, nobody is asking or noticing, that this person have so much, where did she get the money to buy all the luxuries in life, in the meantime, there are so many children starving in the country, so many homeless, so many living in squalid environment. Please, do something, make this people punish for what they did, and return our respect to the country we were born and still hoping going back and retire there. The Philippines is a very beautiful country, make every country envy of us, from all over the world. Abolish the Congress and Presidential government.

    • Because our government is run by the elite. When Marcos was kicked out, ang pumalit is just another group with their own vested interest. So it is the same dog life. Just different collar. Dating blue and red collar, naging yellow collar.

    • Where are these bright Filipino people? Why don’t they go back home and set a good example for their countryman to fallow, make changes the way their Government officials are elected.But no, no, no, they will never sacrifice their good fortune and life abroad, What for? Why sacrifice their braging rights?

  28. Your opinion to “Abolish Congress, but abolish the presidency too, and move to a parliamentary system.” sounds logic and I second the motion to Sen. Miriam Defensor’s idea of HARA-KIRI, but not all of those b”***”s will die! And if they die, the people will not get their money back!! Let us hope that the people will elect good leaders this time… If not, then the country is doomed.

  29. Yehey! Sana po, ulit ulitin niyo ang article na ito hanggang maglaho ang mgayan sa ating mundo! Salamat!

  30. There were PDAF (PORK) abuses from the administration of Cory Aquino up to the Gloria administration, that’s for sure. If PORK during the past administration was cancer, we can identify those abuses as stage 1 or stage 2 cancer. Compare the past with the present PNoy administration, the cancer have spread to uncontrollable levels which can be compared to stage 4 cancer, spreading almost to all parts of the body. In the same manner, abuses in Pork have been slowly coming out, scandal and scandal, scam and scam have been identified almost thru out, from the legislative branch to the executive branch, even in the judicial branch. Ombudswoman Conchita Carpio Morales can not handle the volume of work to be done. She is much too old for the job even considering all her make-up and clothes, she moves much slower now. The job she is doing is concentrating in looking for wrongdoings from the past administration and all its personalities and allies, an example of selective persecution. Anomalies related to Pork is getting worse and it looks like the people will have to address the situation by treating them like termites – in order to get rid of termites, kill the queen (who else?) and the termites (greedy government workers) will disappear.