• Amending our 1987 Constitution to reform and transform our BuloknaSistemangPolitikal!


    Amending our 1987 Constitution is the only way we can begin to fulfill our lofty vision to “build a just and humane society” and “a democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.” Otherwise, our people will conclude that this constitutional vision in the Preamble of our 1987 Constitution “is a myth and a deception.”

    The distinguished and nationalistic authors of the 1987 Constitution who framed our lofty constitutional vision of building a just and humane society and an ideal democracy did not fundamentally reform our buloknasistemang political!

    So by our elections on May 9 we hope we have elected “a transforming President” and enough “transforming legislators” who will together propose the constitutional reforms to transform or reinvent our obsolete political system. For it has been 29 years since we ratified our 1987 Constitution!

    How can we reform and transform our Bulok na SistemangPolitikal?

    1. Abolish all national elections because these are very expensive, corrupting, and dysfunctional. The national election of our President, Vice-President and 24 senators is very expensive because of the high cost of nationwide campaigning and electoral administration. Extending the terms of local government leaders from three to five years will provide continuity in service and reduce election expenses and the temptation to corruption and abuse of power.

    2. Change our Presidential Government to a Unicameral Parliamentary Government. Our traditional Presidential Government suffers from constant gridlocks, paralyses, and lack of accountability. It is built on the separation of powers and the checks and balances among the President, the Senate and the House of our bicameral Congress, and the Judiciary. Consequently, the President, the Senate, and the House are often at odds and their built-in conflicts weaken or slow down the enactment of laws and their effective implementation. When our National Government institutions are inefficient, ineffective, corrupt, and wasteful, there is a lot of buck-passing or avoidance of accountability among national officials. Consequently, no one is clearly accountable for poor governance and corruption.

    In the proposed unicameral Parliament, Members of Parliament (MPs) will be elected in parliamentary districts similar to our congressional districts. The Parliament elects the tested leader of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister: the Head of Government. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers and the bureaucracy are responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honesty or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is accountable to the people for its governance through the Parliament and their respective MPs.

    Candidates for Member of Parliament (MP) are required to belong to a duly constituted and registered political party. In turn, as stated, they will elect among themselves the Prime Minister as the Head of Government, and the President as the Head of State.

    Overseas Philippine citizens will be represented in the Parliament by their duly elected MPs. These requirement and prerogatives will greatly enhance the importance of political parties as institutions of governance; and the political accountability of the political party or coalition that forms the ruling Government.

    A system of Proportional Representation (PR) in Parliament will entitle political parties to designate additional MPs on the basis of their respective party’s share of all the parliamentary votes cast in the election.

    The Parliament shall elect the chosen leader of the majority party or coalition of parties as the Prime Minister or Head of Government. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers are directly responsible and accountable to the Parliament as a whole for the effective governance of the country and the level of honesty or corruption. The ruling party or coalition is also accountable to the people for its governance. As long as the Government does not lose a vote of confidence in Parliament, it can lead and govern the country continually, thus making possible continuity in policy and governance.

    3. Create Autonomous Regions and Local Governments. By devolving political power, authority, and finances to the regional and local governments, we shall be empowering them and our citizens. This can be the transition to a future Federal Republic of the Philippines.

    4. Empower our people as sovereign citizens of our Republic. They must be empowered through education, employment, social security, and their political participation in electing our MPs and local leaders, and running our autonomous regions and local governments.

    Initiatives for reforming our political system via constitutional amendments

    Groups of citizens have joined in a “Cloud-sourcing” movement to enact a law by popular initiative and referendum to abolish all forms of pork barrel. Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the Supreme Court is leading the initiative. After this initiative, the “Cloud-sourcing denizens” and their advisers will propose specific amendments to the Constitution by “Popular Initiative” which the 1987 Constitution allows as the third mode of changing the Constitution, subject finally to approval in a national plebiscite.

    * * *

    Jose V. Abueva is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration and Political Science in U P since 1998.

    He is the President of the Kalayaan College of Quezon City since 2001. He was the president of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City in 1987 – 1993 and became one of its Chancellors in 1990 – 1991. He is a dues-paying member of the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya. He is a member of the Board of Advisors of CDPI.


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    1. leonardo o. odono on

      I agree with everything Professor Abueva said about the need to amend the constitution, particularly his proposition to abolish the national elections and the presidential form of government in favor of a two-party parliamentary system. But Mr. Abueva missed out on a most important detail: who will write a new constitution.

      Congress acting as a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution can not be trusted to write a constitution that will mandate the radical reforms we need in our social, economic and political order. Congressmen and Senators in general have vested interests to protect, in the same way that a President elected with campaign funds contributed by vested interests will be pressured to protect the interests of campaign fund contributors, principally their interest in preserving the status quo. A constitutional convention, on the other hand, will most likely be populated by delegates whose election campaign will be funded by vested interests – precisely to protect their interests.

      We might need a revolutionary government to abolish the existing unjust and dysfunctional social and political structures that, as the cliche goes, only make the rich richer and the poor poorer. That government must install a constitutional commission unburdened by vested interests to craft a pro-people constitution, one that mandates genuine reforms in our society. The huge vote for Mayor Duterte, I believe, is a protest vote against the status quo, a vote, in frustration, for whatever means can bring about reforms that hold any promise for the betterment in the life of the Filipino. The misguided lawyers and defenders of the American form of representative democracy that has miserably failed the Filipino must present a better alternative to a revolutionary government forcing reforms, or shut up if they have none,.