• The biggest opportunity we missed because of ‘EDSA’ and Cory

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    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

    THE biggest opportunity we missed because of the EDSA uprising, and Corazon Aquino’s assumption to power because of that political upheaval, was our failure to shift toward a parliamentary system. (Its most important feature is that the head of government is elected not through people’s direct votes, but through their representatives, i.e. the Parliament to which the head is accountable.)

    Cory, I had learned years after the 1987 drafting and adoption of the Constitution, told those most loyal to her in the Constitutional Commission—all of whom she appointed—that of all proposals, it was the one proposing a change to a parliamentary system that she hated.

    Why? Simply because a parliamentary system, would seem like her recognition as correct Marcos’ move to create a single-chamber legislative body called the Batasan Pambansa, which was ordered set up under Marcos’ 1973 Constitution. (She misunderstood it; it was actually still a presidential system, with a unicameral legislature and a “Prime Minister,” but with little powers.)

    It is such a tragedy that our present political system wasn’t really a consensus among members of the commission that drafted the Constitution. The 1987 Constitution was approved only by a very slim margin of two votes.

    There were several reports that Cory was more interested in having a new Constitution as soon as possible, whatever its content was, since her revolutionary government under a “Freedom Constitution” (which she alone decreed) was, almost by nature, a legally and politically fragile one.

    WHAT SHE WANTED, SHE GOT: Cory addressing the inaugural session of the commission that wrote our present Constitution.

    The four-month period for the information campaign was not only too short, but because at the time, the media was a Cory media, there was actually little national discussions on the provisions of the proposed Constitution. With her popularity and power then, most political leaders backed what Cory wanted.

    Debate endless
    While a debate on which system is better, presidential or parliament, would be endless, I submit we simply look at what has worked in the world.

    We are one of the very few countries in Asia, which maintain a system in which the people directly choose the President, who is both head of state and government. Our system hasn’t even been “debugged” in the way that of the US had been, with such refinements and checks as the system of electoral colleges, primaries, a strong party system, and one-on-debates among presidential contenders. Yet, even in the US, Donald Trump’s victory, based on his skill in demagoguery and appeal to American working class’ frustrations, is another proof of the fatal weaknesses of a presidential system.

    Because of the presidential system that was restored, the dictator’s widow, Imelda Marcos could even have become Philippine President, if her husband’s crony Eduardo Cojuangco, who insisted he was Marcos’ legitimate heir, had not split the pro-Marcos votes. (Imelda’s and Cojuangco’s votes in the 1992 election totaled 28 percent of the ballots, more than Fidel Ramos’ 24 percent.)

    We’ve had a presidential system since the nation’s birth, with the 14-year dictatorship as a hiatus, and we are in a mess. It was the presidential system in fact which led to the quagmire of the late 1960s that encouraged Marcos to impose martial law. On the other hand, our neighbors with parliamentary systems—such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand—have had parliamentary systems, and have overtaken us in terms of economic development.

    Direct voting sounds so democratic. In reality, it has been one of the biggest hoaxes of modern society. It is usually the political and economic elites and the mass media which determine whom the masses will vote, without such a leader going through the rigorous process of being tested and judged by his peers. Such pure democracy really works only in a community of a few thousand voters, without any mass media to mediate reality for them.

    Movie persona
    Thus, the masses voted for a President Joseph Estrada whose movie persona as a working-class hero the people thought they were voting to office. In reality, they voted for a drunkard and a libertine who saw nothing wrong in amassing billions from jueteng, rigging the stock market, and skimming off tobacco taxes.

    But at least Estrada had two decades of experience as a town mayor and then senator. But because of the presidential system, and the features of a mass media- dominated modern society in which reality and illusion are mixed, the country nearly had as President Fernando Poe Jr., an aging actor with zero experience in government, whose fairy-tale persona as a hero brandishing a magic sword in a never-never land Filipinos quite foolishly thought they were voting for.

    Last elections, if a phenomenon called Duterte had not emerged and there wasn’t a phenomenon as computerized voting, a Balikbayan that swore allegiance to the US, and totally without any experience in government would have become President—merely because she was Poe’s daughter.

    It is the same presidential system which made a President out of a spoiled unico hijo who practically had not worked a single day in his life, whose performance in Congress had been mediocre that he was largely ignored by his peers, but whom the masses voted for in sympathy with the death of his mother. A superstitious people also foolishly thought the spirits of the anti-dictatorship martyr and his widow, the heroine of democracy, would be possessing B.S. Aquino, or from the beyond would be whispering to him how to run government.

    Of course, an argument that has only recently emerged would be that Rodrigo Duterte would never have become the country’s chief executive if not through a presidential system. He touched a raw nerve among Filipinos, who directly voted for him, and allowed him to win by a landslide. Duterte, without the skills of a horse-trading politician and really an outsider from the national political class, would not have been voted as primus inter pares, i.e. prime minister, by a parliament.

    But Duterte is a fluke, a sui generis (one of its kind), a lucky break for our unlucky country, in that he has mass charisma, a populist, while he seems–so far–to be committed to, and having the balls for, radically changing our society.

    The other proposal for a different political system, federalism would worsen our weak sense of nationalism, and would even eventually lead to the extinction of the notion of a “Filipino”. Under that system, Ilokanos would deepen their identification as “Ilokanos” rather than Filipinos; Cebuanos as Cebuanos; Warays as Warays; Mindanaoans as Mindanaoans; with Metro Manilans most probably developing a crazy identification as “citizens of the world.”

    We should move first towards a parliamentary system, and if that doesn’t work either, it would be parliament that could be in a better position to decide on moving towards a federalist nation, and implement it with the least disruption.

    With his immense popularity and huge political capital, Duterte can, if he moves fast enough, move us towards a parliamentary system. That could be his greatest legacy, a hundred times more important than his war against illegal drugs.

    E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    FB: Bobi Tiglao and Rigoberto Tiglao
    Archives: rigobertotiglao.com

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    18 Comments

    1. The long reigning hoaxes imbed in the people’s mind is that government is establish for the people and by the people. Democracy presented to the Greek-Athenians was not meant to fool nor disguised to control them initially. Voting became the machinery in democracy in their time and our time. Government evolve and it is a mechanism on whom it serves to control. It’s usually not friendly to the least of economic privilege people. Because it serves the purpose of the controller/manipulator the people relies on it as the father figure of their existence. People are stuck with government generally malevolent.

      I was too young to know the scope of revolutionary government proceeding the dictatorial one. The brief sightings in your article points to the fact that it was a repeat process that another type of dictatorship replaced the previous. The missing chance sighted about the parliamentarian shift cannot be missed out by its own constitutional menders. The menders were meeting headway that parliament system already set by the previous dictator was practically of useful purpose. It’s staring in our face and we are about to embrace anew.

      RDT thanks for sharing the relevance of that dust filled info most of us unable to notice.

    2. Correct Bobi. We would’ve be a better nation had we adopted a parliamentary system way back, i.e. if macoy didn’t declared martial law and hijacked the 1973 constitution that was being written then.

      Aside from having better leaders, parliamentary system would have developed stronger political party system here, accountable, issues-based and has mass membership, rather than being the temporary politician’s club we see today. It would’ve fostered party discipline and would’ve resulted to better party loyalty rather than the party-jumping we see today.

      Kalokohan talaga yang mga dilaw at si Cory….masyadong idealists, hindi praktikal. Ayan tuloy kangkong tayo for very long.

    3. The phenomenon that is Du30 and why he became RP president is mostly because of the disillusionment of the Generation Xers with the EDSA people power revolution. We Gen. Xers remember martial law before and after. We experienced the pre and post EDSA event in our teens. We became the driving youth movement to oust Marcos in the 1980’s with our rallying cry “Dekada Otsenta di na Papayag.” We realized too late our mistake as we watched our country become worse after EDSA and the two Aquino presidents, that’s why Gen. Xers, now the middle aged sector of society, voted for Du30 and BB Marcos in mass protest.

      Not being able to fool the Gen. Xers anymore, the impressionable millennial youth are now unwittingly being turned against their parent Gen. Xer’s by the Yellows, who are mostly from the Baby Boomer Generation or Martial Law Babies (also called the First Quarter Storm), this 1970’s teen generation gained the most from the removal of Marcos from power in the 1980’s. So guess what, the yellow elite Baby Boomers like Jim Paredes are prodding millennials to think and act yellow since it won’t work on Gen. Xers anymore.

      Thank God for Baby Boomer generation exceptions like Tiglao who can go against the grain for truth’s sake.

    4. All of our prosperous neighbors big and small have parliamentary systems. China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. All the prosperous countries in Europe have parliamentary systems. Canada and Australia have parliamentary systems. The US may have a presidential system but they are also federal. It is only the oligarchs and the US puppets like Cory Aquino and Noynoy Aquino who insist on a centralized presidential government because it is much easier for US backed oligarchs who own the media to manipulate news, manipulate surveys and manipulate Comelec results. It is also very difficult to prove massive election cheating as we are experiencing in the VP results. Note that none of the Liberal crooks are interested in a federal and/or parliamentary system.

    5. There will always be corrupt politicians wherever you go and whatever is the form of government. The advantage of a parliamentary system is the extremely smaller budget to campaign compared to several hundreds of millions needed by senatorial candidates in a presidential system because members of parliament are campaigning only in their districts. This gives a much better chance for poor but deserving candidates to get elected. It enables voters to know their candidates based on track record of past performance and reduces drastically the advantage of candidates that ride on media publicity, necropolitics, movies, and popularity. It is also much easier to catch cheating in the voting and the counting.

    6. “It is the same presidential system which made a President out of a spoiled unico hijo who practically had not worked a single day in his life, whose performance in Congress had been mediocre that he was largely ignored by his peers, but whom the masses voted for in sympathy with the death of his mother. ”

      you’ve made me laugh Mr Tiglao and your choice of word is the best to describe it.

    7. Nice article.

      BUT YOUR SUGGESTION AS PARLIAMENT GOVERNMENT WIL BE CONSIDER AS
      A HUMONGOUS INSANITY behind Filipino crap mentality.

      If all these parliamentary personnel are the patriot to the Filipino (like DU30) is YES.
      100% this country will standout. What happen if it becomes a parliament government? This greedy people will dominate the country once again, I am sure oppression will be their favorite menu because in this form may be you can’t voice out even. There is no way to oppose & open your of what was being agreed inside the parliament or by this form.

      Democracy still the best as long as it does not being played by the politician & the government it self. Implement the law & follow this law. (Filipinos are the one who are not obeying the rules, failed because we have the nature of being crap & self centered)

      Come on Mr. Tiglao, you might have big thinking… BUT, think first the full recipe wether this is suitable for the Filipinos to be eaten.

      You should have include into your column the pro and cons of the parliamentary form of government to be fair, because many of our Filipinos do not understand specially non educated one.

    8. I am sorry, but I will disagree about Trump’s presidency. Hillary was the worse of the two and Trump won because he was right about nationalism. My paternal relatives are there. My two brothers and their families are also in the US. They prefer Trump and the Republican. The Filipinos who do not like Trump are the TNTs. Now, tell me, if we put Trump’s ideas here in our country, won’t you also agree that it is the one we prefer. Do you like illegal immigrants to stay in the Philippines? Do you like abortion? Do you like drugs from South America (here from China) to cross the border easily? Do you like criminal illegals to be caught only to be released? Do you want terrorists disguised as refugees to enter the country? I am against globalism the Europe and Hillary espouses. I am against making Islam a faith the left and the liberals seem to respect more than Christianity to the point that they follow what the Muslims want and yet you cannot pray to Jesus in public or say Merry Christmas without being told off (despite Muslim extremists blowing up people and buildings). It is just like all these whinings against Marcos who is not dead. Trump is still the better option to Hillary. Obama’s administration helped arm the rebels against Assad in Syria and it gave birth to ISIS. And people thought the Democrats are not war freaks compared to the Republicans.

    9. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

      Federalism is not pooling a group like the ‘warays” together to form a state and do the same for pampangos, igorots, etc. This is a very simplistic way of explaining federalism. The suggestion of going parliamentary first is wroth studying and has some good merits. Federalism could then be subject of parliamentary debates. God bless the Philippines.

    10. 2016 saw the People use their power at the ballot box for the first time. The people elected a President without one single tie to the Manila elite. The people actually prevailed over money. This is the first administration being run for the people and not for the elite. Now we will have something to compare our system being run for the people instead of being run for the elite. I suspect it is the people running the government rather than the form of government that is the most important.

    11. No form of Government would be beneficial to the Majority of the Filipino people or any group of people in the entire world … so long as Corrupt Politicians , Greedy Elites and Oligarchs exist !!!
      HOW CAN WE GET RID OF THEM ? … that is the question !!!

    12. I really hope, hope that people will awaken by this very eye opener piece that you Mr. Tiglao has written. It;s always a pleasure to read your writings. Thanks.

    13. The biggest opportunity we missed because of EDSA Revolution or People Power was Marcos’ plan of 11 major industrial projects, with the intention of shifting the focus of the nation’s industrial economy from consumer goods to basic heavy industry. Included in the plan were steel, petro-chemical, pulp and paper, a copper smelter, aluminum, phosphate fertilizer, diesel engines, gas and oil, a coconut industry, and the nuclear power program. Cory’s government did not continue those projects.

      Cory’s government discontinued most of the projects that bore the mark of Marcos. She even mothballed the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant despite Marcos’ appeal for her government to operate the BNPP as Marcos said it’s the country’s solution in meeting the country’s energy demand and decrease dependence on imported oil. pinatigil ni Cory ang BNPP dahil maaalala raw ng taong-bayan si Marcos hanggang nandiyan ang BNPP.

      Look at what Marcos did when he became president. the North Luzon Expressway was the program of former president Diosdado Macapagal, but Marcos continued the program of his predecessor and built the North Luzon Expressway.

      Department of Energy’s current undersecretary, Wimpy Fuentebella revealed in an interview that the BNPP was not the original program of Marcos. Wimpy said that he was surprised to find out that Tanada (Wimpy did not mention whether it was Sen. Lorenzo Tanada), a political opponent of Marcos, was the original proponent of the atomic program of the country. At that time, nuclear energy was known as atomic energy. Even if the atomic energy was the idea of Marcos’ political opponent, Marcos saw it was a good project and built the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

      During the early years of the Marcos administration, former senator Eddie Ilarde opposed the government’s move to send a military combat team to Vietnam, and Sen. Ilarde suggested that a civic action group be sent instead to Vietnam. Marcos called Sen. Ilarde and informed the senator that because of his opposition, the government would just send instead a civic action group to Vietnam.

      during the Cory administration, when AFP Chief Fidel Ramos and Defense Secretary Enrile advised her not to send Nur Misuari back to the Philippines because that would only bring troubles to the Philippines and tie down the government’s limited resources (money, bullets, etc.) in fighting the MNLF, Cory opposed the good suggestions of Ramos and Enrile. I guess Cory wanted to show who was the president, and that she said to herself that she could not just be dictated upon by the two officials.

      I remember now what Rene Saguisag wrote previously in his newspaper column. that when he was a cabinet secretary of Cory, when he (Rene) told a joke to president Cory, she would implement it. But when Rene gave a serious advice, Cory would laugh and laugh.

      • Marcos’ vision of an industrialized Philippines was the reason the CIA had to intervene as written in the that article about the economic hitman. Low intensity conflict has been used time and time again in countries with US interests. I do not fault the US for protecting their interests. That is their prerogative as a nation who of course should look out for their own interests. That is why there were dictators that were propped and toppled accordingly. Marcos was not a saint but he had a vision and if only the presidents after him followed is vision instead of politicizing anything Marcos, the Philippines would have been on its way to industrialization. But then again, the graft and of corruption are too entrenched in our society that only an armed struggle will eradicate and uproot these evils of government. The problem is an armed struggle is too devastating and it will lead to another cycle of corruption from the new leaders, be it communists or the military junta.

    14. A government will always depend her successes and failures to those persons in-charge. Regardless what form of democratic or non democratic government it is. True, our individuality will be enhanced and embolden but it is still the persons responsibility to be moral and prove their integrity. As most presidents of the republic have shown the masses in its entirety are not pleased. The frailties of humans at time still prevails. Just my two cents!!!!