Can PDU30 correct his mistakes?

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In a strongly-argued column, Times columnist Rigoberto D. Tiglao asked last Monday, “Are we seeing a New Revolution led by Supremo Duterte?” He suggested that we may now be in the middle of such a revolution, and that it may be our last chance to change the status quo. Many of us have long dreamed of such a revolution, but I have always thought, not mistakenly I hope, that it would be waged by the people themselves, or at least with their support and participation.

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If PDU30 has indeed launched a revolution, how many of us see it in the spate of extrajudicial killings, the shoot-to-kill and “surrender or else” orders? Until now most of us expect our President, pursuant to his oath, to preserve and defend the Constitution, execute the laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate himself to the service of the nation. Very few seem prepared to paper over the explosion of violence and blood-letting in the name of “change.”

Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno has found it necessary to tell judges who have been publicly linked to the illegal drugs trade not to surrender to the police unless they are facing charges and the court has ordered their arrest. Many others have been emboldened to raise their voices, after it became known that the President’s “hit list” contained names of dead and long retired judges and politicians.

Archbishop Fernando Capalla, archbishop emeritus of Davao, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and co-founder of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, has been compelled to issue a public statement vouching for the character and innocence of former Mayor Omar Ali of Marawi City, who has been falsely linked to drug runners. Ali has written PDU30 asking him to revalidate his information linking him to the drugs trade.

“Be it known publicly that as former bishop of Marawi and Iligan (1977-1994) I have known Omar Ali as a good person and a good Muslim and of good standing in the National Transformation Council and of his innocence as well,” Capalla said.

Obviously, errors and excesses have been committed. We can only hope that PDU30 promptly corrects any and all mistakes. I have no doubt he will. But leaving this issue for now, as I promised in my last column, I would like to draw PDU30’s attention to some constitutional issues. There is no need to experiment with inverted federalism; there is so much in the presidential system that needs immediate fixing.

State policies
The Constitution guarantees the supremacy of civilian authority over the military and names the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the protector of the people and the State. “Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.” To this, it may be useful to add, “AND TO SAFEGUARD THE LEGITIMACY OF ITS INSTITUTIONS.”

Sec. 8, same Article, provides that “the Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.” It may be necessary to require THE PRESIDENT TO REPORT TO CONGRESS ANNUALLY ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS PROVISION.

Sec. 12, same Article, provides: “The State recognizes the sanctity of human life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception…”

This clearly prohibits the State from interfering in the right of women to bear children. But since the Supreme Court has ruled, erroneously, that the Constitution does not prohibit population control, IT MUST MAKE THAT PROHIBITION INFINITELY CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE. POPULATION CONTROL VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION AND STATE CONTRACEPTION IS POPULATION CONTROL.

Presidential or parliamentary govt?
This question has to be raised at the outset. We must avoid the mistake of Cory Aquino’s constitutional commission, which began drafting a constitution for a parliamentary government but in the end voted for the presidential system, without making sure that every provision in the draft was adopted to fit the presidential system.

If we choose the parliamentary system, then the Constitution must be thoroughly revised. If on the other hand we decide to keep the presidential system, then we must fix its most obvious flaws. We could begin with the presidency.

1) A majority President

To be elected President, it is not enough to get the highest number of votes among the candidates. One must garner at least 50 plus 1 percent of all the votes. If there are more than two candidates, and no one gets the desired number of votes on the first ballot, there should be a second ballot (a run-off) between the first two candidates with the most number of votes to produce a winner.

Although we talk of PDU30’s “landslide” victory after all his rivals conceded their defeat, his 38 percent win makes him a minority President still. The need to elect a majority President alone will discourage nuisance candidates, and encourage the return of the two-party system, even without legislating it.

2) President and vice president must come from the same ticket

The last two presidential elections gave us a President from one party and a vice president from another. This produced built-in conflict, instead of cooperation and partnership. This could have been avoided had we adopted the US system in which a vote for the President is a vote for his/her vice president. The voters then would always elect a team, not two rivals for the highest office.

3) Define natural-born citizen more clearly and avoid nuisance candidates

It is not enough for the Constitution to say that no person may be elected President unless he/she is a natural-born citizen; it must say exactly who is a natural-born citizen and who is not. It must say that A FOUNDLING OF NO KNOWN PARENTAGE IS NOT A NATURAL-BORN CITIZEN, and THAT NO PERSON WHO HAS BEEN A CITIZEN OF ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME MAY BE ELECTED PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT O MEMBER OF CONGRESS.

Prior to the election, the Commission on Elections, not any other tribunal, should have the sole and final authority to determine whether or not a candidate fulfils the constitutional qualifications for the office.

4) Revive and protect the impeachment process

Impeachment is a mechanism adopted by the Constitution to remove certain officials who enjoy immunity from suit while in office. These include the President, the vice president, the members of the Supreme Court, the members of the Constitutional Commissions and the Ombudsman. They may be impeached for culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment; the Senate, the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. But no impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against any official more than once within a period of one year.

Now, in 2003, two impeachment complaints were filed against then Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. The first one failed to prosper in the House Committee on Justice. The second gained the support of more than one-third of all the members of the House, sufficient to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial. But a petition was filed before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the second complaint, arguing that “no impeachment complaint shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

Although a previous complaint had been filed against Davide, this did not become a “case initiated by the House” and sent to the Senate for trial. But in order to save Davide, the Court declared the complaint unconstitutional and barred the House from impeaching the Chief Justice. This is now known as Justice (now Ombudsman) Conchita Carpio Morales’ ruling in Francisco v. the House of Representatives. As a result of this ruling, an impeachable official can now avoid impeachment by initiating, through a third party, a worthless complaint against himself or herself, so that after it has been thrown out by the House for being insufficient in form or in substance, no serious impeachment complaint could be filed against him or her for a period of one year.

THIS HAS DESTROYED THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS.THE CONSTITUTION MUST NOW MAKE IT ABSOLUTELY CLEAR THAT AN IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CASE OR AN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING UNTIL IT IS ENDORSED BY THE HOUSE TO THE SENATE FOR TRIAL, AND THAT NO OFFICIAL ACQUIRES THE ONE-YEAR IMMUNITY FROM IMPEACHMENT UNTIL AND UNLESS HE/SHE HAS BEEN IMPEACHED BY THE HOUSE ONCE BEFORE THAT SAME YEAR.

5) Enlarge the Senate, elect senators by region or abolish it altogether

We have a Senate of 24 members representing a population of 100 million. Given that senators are elected by the same voters that elect the President, the latter ends up electing candidates who are “popular” for no other reason than that they are “popular” (Bagehot), or who simply buy their votes from the PCOS syndicate or the warlords in Mindanao. Either we abolish the Senate for having become irrelevant or we increase its members to be elected by region rather than nationwide. No region would then be deprived of representation.

6) Purify the party list system or scrap it

Every member of Congress is supposed to represent everyone in his jurisdiction. And every citizen is supposed to be represented by his/her member of Congress. Why should some citizens be represented by one territorial and another party list or sectoral member, while everyone else is represented by only one? This objection must be overcome, if the party-list system is to be maintained.

7) Abolish term limit and define the limitations on political dynasties

Some delegates to the 1987 Constitutional Commission believed that by instituting term limits, they would be “democratizing access to political office.” This merely resulted in wives succeeding their termed-out husbands, or sons and daughters succeeding their fathers or mothers, and an over-expansion of family dynasties at all levels. In the 24-member Senate, we found two members of one family sitting together at the same time.

THE TERM LIMIT HAS PRODUCED THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF ITS DESIRED RESULT. EXCEPT FOR THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT, WHO SHOULD BE LIMITED TO ONE TERM, WE SHOULD LEAVE IT TO THE VOTERS TO DECIDE HOW LONG OTHER OFFICIALS COULD STAY IN OFFICE, WITHOUT BRINGING IN THE REST OF THEIR FAMILIES WITH THEM. THE CONSTITUTION MUST STATE IN UNMISTAKABLE TERMS WHO AND HOW MANY MEMBERS OF ONE FAMILY COULD SEEK PUBLIC OFFICE AT THE SAME TIME.

8) Limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, strengthen the qualifications for Justices, abolish the Judicial Bar Council, submit all judicial nominations to the Commission on Appointments, let the Justices serve for life and let them elect their own Chief.

To relieve the Supreme Court of its undue burden, the Constitution should limit its jurisdiction to purely constitutional issues and allow the Court of Appeals to handle all appeals from the lower courts. No one should be appointed to the High Court unless he/she has been a judge of a lower court or engaged in active court practice or taught law at graduate school level in any law college of law for at least 15 years. The Judicial Bar Council should be abolished, and all court appointments should go through the Commission on Appointments. The members of the Supreme Court should hold their offices during good behavior, and elect the Chief Justice from among themselves.

These proposals are both tentative and illustrative. But they show the Constitution could use some timely amendments, without playing around with an inverted federal structure to replace our unitary Republic.

fstatad@gmail.com

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16 Comments

  1. Another thing to consider in revising the constitution are for the candidates who are currently holding a govt position. ex. senator, congressman etc. that he or she should resign first if he or she wants to run for another post.

  2. Joshua Schneider on

    Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughing s of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.
    -P. J. O’Rourke

    We are seeing Democracy now. It is not pretty nor kind. Sometimes it lacks the very basics of what we consider “fair play”. It can be bloody as a free society shakes loose the chains of those that have enslaved it.

    It is letting the person on the front page of your favourite newspaper espouse his or her theory that enrages your blood and makes you shake in anger, while your editorial piece does the same for them. Democracy is not easy, it has to be fought for day by day by those that would seek to take it away from you. It will require blood to be shed, because their are always those among us who will by any means necessary seek to again enslave us to do their will.

    Our Democracy is working.. one only needs to look at the front pages of our newspapers…

  3. ferdinand naboye on

    ye go ahead Mr president in your fight against illeagl drugs do not be hampered by the supreme court that decides cases over along time. kung sundin natin ang supreme court puputi ang buhok ng apo ng apo nla ay walang mangyari because the drug lords have money to pay the judges and lawyers to their advantage

  4. Leodegardo Pruna on

    I believe that PDU30 is simply tired of waiting and he has to do something to hasten and facilitate the change he would like to happen a change that is withing the law and Constitution. He is speaking for the people, the fact that he won and was given the mandate to be our President. If change is to happen, it has to be done fast and firm otherwise the momentum gain would just simply vanish and the old ways slowly undermining whatever good already established. In the process, however, there are things to do fast enough and things not that fast. President Duterte, having set a deadline to accomplish some good for the nation is on track but should slow down because the people is now aware of his vision for the country which others in the past have only themselves to blame for not doing the same. Our country would not be where it is had we a leader of the passion and conviction as PDU30. God bless our President. God bless the Philippines.

    • It is indeed a revolution of the masses, 16 million voted PDU30 despite his lack of political machinery in the provinces, cities, towns and barangays…. PDU30 is the leader of this revolution which must be won in 3 to 6 months… God Bless PDU30

  5. In addition,though..I do agree that many points the author made in this piece are relevant to the desirable cleaning-up of the Constitution by eradicating clauses which are open to multiple interpretations,and thus being far more specific in every clause to close the gaps through which many have benefited from in the past.
    There is much to be discussed by intelligent and qualified people in office, and within the public sphere.
    Integral with the previous sentence is the 100% moral integrity of those re-writing the Constitution.

  6. I think the pro-charter change people are missing the point. Pres. Duterte wants parliamentarysystem in order for him to be more powerful. He will not even take these recommendations from Sen. Tatad. What he wants, he will get period! Charter Change is not for these recommendations of Sen. Tatad to be included in the Constitution. Charter Change is for the current wanton violations of the law to become “Constitutional and Legal.” What will happen is that we will have a dictatorhip with a rubber-stamp “parliament” and the economic and political elite will just continue with their genocide of brown Filipinos – of course the fake “Filipinos” like Noynoy Aquino and the Cojuangcos, among many other fake “Filipinos” – will continue to be untouched. The new “constitution”, if it all it can still be called as such – will be easy to amend further in order to ultimately bring about, not a Fifth Reich but a Fist Reich. You can clench your fist that this is right.

  7. “Sec. 12, same Article, provides: “The State recognizes the sanctity of human life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception…”
    This clearly prohibits the State from interfering in the right of women to bear children. But since the Supreme Court has ruled, erroneously, that the Constitution does not prohibit population control, IT MUST MAKE THAT PROHIBITION INFINITELY CLEAR AND UNMISTAKABLE. POPULATION CONTROL VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION AND STATE CONTRACEPTION IS POPULATION CONTROL.”

    The columnist did not quote the complete Sec.12, opting out after ‘conception.’

    However, the main error of said columnist relates to his statement; “This clearly prohibits the State from interfering in the right of woman to bear children.”

    Surely,the State is clearly prohibited in interfering in the right of woman to NOT bear any more children than she desires,and also have complete control over WHEN she will bear a child..or another child.

    Contraception is not State-sanctioned population control..it is a method of responsible family planning which may benefit any born child with better love,nutrition,health,and economic future.

  8. “1) A majority President
    To be elected President, it is not enough to get the highest number of votes among the candidates. One must garner at least 50 plus 1 percent of all the votes. If there are more than two candidates, and no one gets the desired number of votes on the first ballot, there should be a second ballot (a run-off) between the first two candidates with the most number of votes to produce a winner.
    Although we talk of PDU30’s “landslide” victory after all his rivals conceded their defeat, his 38 percent win makes him a minority President still. The need to elect a majority President alone will discourage nuisance candidates, and encourage the return of the two-party system, even without legislating it.”

    Hang on.

    1. If there are two Pres.Candidates running,the winner must have >50% of-the-votes.

    2. If there are three running, the winner must have > total votes than the other two,but not < 33.33% of the total no.of voters.

    3. If there are four running…etc.,not 50% if there are more than 2 candidates,can one?

    just asking….

    • Sorry..the last few lines did not print-out correctly.

      3. If there are four running…etc, then the winner must not have less than 25% of total voters.

      Unless there are only two candidates running, you cannot restrict the winner to having >50% of the votes.

      just asking…

  9. Enough of the technicalities, formalities, process and procedures to follow. We have been doing that for so many years, look at what happened to this country? This is the only President who has a totally different approach and set of rules which was never tried and tested in running our country. Mr. TATAD, if you cannot help might as well ssshhhhh!!!!!

  10. Well-written proposals. I agree with them.

    A parliamentary system like those in Europe is not suited to the Filipinos. In Europe, we see prime ministers, resigning when some event or occurrencies take place out of their mistakes or other causes.

    Filipinos DO NOT KNOW or do not have the WILL to RESIGN in any event. Have you seen any Filipino government official do that? They will fight it out come hell or high water. We will then have divisions and chaos in the government.

    So I don’t think a parliamentary government is suited for Filipinos.

  11. vagoneto rieles on

    Without meaning to obstruct or impede the march of law enforcement against the terrible drug menace, the legal niceties of democracy in the Philippines could, inadvertently, strangle and stymie its progress. The fact is…procedures and protocols required by law have been used to thwart the very same body of laws that these were meant to address. The issuance of writs and warrants could be legally delayed; so could court schedules and proceedings. Patrons and powerful protectors have been quite ready to post bail and mount a legal defense for their supporters and ‘contributors’…to the extent that many in law enforcement, saw the situation as an opportunity to ‘cash-in’. Why not? Indeed, why break your ‘butts’ going after ‘lords-and-pushers’ when they would be out of jail as fast as you could put them in? It had become a foolish game. And the problem just got bigger.
    The Chief Justice couldn’t have missed seeing these; neither could the Senate, Congress, nor the Integrated Bar. To ensure that the ‘Executive Branch’ does not totally over-step its limits…rather than preach from the sidelines, they should consider joining the administration’s campaign with a view to assist and advise on current police activities. Rather than stifle and crimp the President’s ‘anti-drug’ program, they should help ensure that the long festering…and thriving…menace is, not just managed, but rather, totally eradicated.

  12. What constitution are you talking about? it’s a revolution now (real change is happening and the faggots are screaming).

    The president was elected, with the electorate hoping precisely for that change, he offered a glimpse about – all or most of the changes that the majority is hoping and praying for, the hope that someday our children’s children can stop being “coolies and prostitutes” here and outside the philippines. And then, at stake is the survival of the nation against external and internal threats, and the maka-pilipino in us care for that also – we do love our crazy philipines and we hate treasonous persons.

    The constitution that you are talking about does not work for the majority of the pilipinos, and is no use to us, or the country, or in real nation building so far.

    Talk about the old 10 basics, it might be more helpful. These ten are never obsolete, do not need a con-ass to deliverate or understand, work every time, we simply have to follow them. But it hardly easy for the elites of the country to follow, do you know the answer why? – so don’t talk to us about a useless constitution, your hyprocrisy is showing.