One-Term Presidency

The U.S is engaged in a presidential election and we are almost half-way through President Aquino’s term. So we have a cross-cultural moment here, two different points of view on presidential term limits.

The U.S. president has the opportunity to serve two four-year terms if he can get re-elected for the second term. The Philippine president serves six years and is then done.
It is striking to me how long it takes for big progress to be made. The U.S. is still struggling from the economic collapse underway when President Obama took office. The Philippines is still a fundamentally corrupt place and Ms. Arroyo is lingering seemingly unattended. These are very large boats, these ships of state.
Every once in a while you can find mention of a new Constitutional Committee in the Philippines but you never find out what the exact INTENT would be.  To extend the term of the President? To allow 100% foreign ownership of businesses? To get rid of the Commission on Appointments which is so politicized as to be dangerous? To get more federal in structure? To allow U.S. bases?
People seem to think it is advisable to re-write the Constitution but they won’t be candid enough to say why. Not until they’ve gathered up support for their secret plans.
I rather see the existing Constitution as a good basic document, and I don’t like the idea of a heavy-duty re-write. Once the Constitutional Committee begins operating, nobody knows what worms will crawl out of the woodwork. It is likely to be a contentious exercise that further tears the nation apart rather than unifying and building it. The exercise would bog Congress down in about a year of non-productive work when the nation really needs to get things done. Like the RH Bill, Divorce Bill, FOI Bill, Political Party Development Bill, Taxation bills, and other steps to make the nation free, modern and productive.
I think it is better to do a few targeted amendments to the Constitution and get on with the business of improving the way government agencies operate. Especially the courts. Why introduce massive changes to the laws of the land when the enforcement disciplines now are in disarray and laws are substantially meaningless?
Here are three amendments I’d suggest be made:
  • Change the amendment process to allow amendments to the Constitution at any time they are properly approved rather than limiting it to one amendment every five years. The five-year barrier means the most important document in the land is not able to keep up with rapid advances in society.
  • Permit 100% foreign ownership of businesses under specific guidelines that bar foreign ownership of critical businesses like communications. Include anti-trust provisions that bar foreign dominance in any particular industry. . . like mining. Bring investor money in, but don’t allow it to overpower domestic interests.
  • Change the term of the presidency to two four-year terms. Six years and out is somehow weak. The President is just getting going then, bam, out. The four-year benchmark is a checkpoint. If the President is doing well, he gets to keep going. If not, get someone in who can. And if he earns four more years in power, he is not cemented in place for so long that he dominates the political landscape and forces out opposition. It’s a good balance. Adjust legislator and other elected positions to the presidential four-year cycles.
The core Constitution, which is solid, stays in place and is not vulnerable to surprise or unplanned changes.
The Constitution is open to planned changes to keep pace with knowledge and the demands on an emerging First Class nation.
Allow President Aquino to stand for election for another four year term in the 2016 election. Six years and out is not enough time to seat his progressive changes. If the people disagree, they can opt for the opposing candidate.
Plus, Mar Roxas is still young. He could do with a little more seasoning.
Comments
19 Responses to “One-Term Presidency”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Does not matter, any term has advantages and disadvantages. Bottom line is the character of president. Look at GMA 9 years she abused. Earp, he just started, too corrupt. Aquino doing excellent job, people see it too short because he is rebuilding damage institution. Imagine if his predecessor was incorruptible and efficient, then Aquino would just be polishing a smooth administration.4 years with reelection is not advisable to me due to the fact that the first 4 would be dedicated to reelection move. Six years is best for leaders like Aquino. Replacing him with Roxas might be the best bet at the moment for Filipinos to continue cleanup of corruption. Robredo might have been a better choice but he was not the typical " born politician". Johnny Lin

  2. Good counter-argument for the Philippine status quo. It is true that about the entire last year of term one in the U.S. gets misdirected to politicking. The offset is that there is an incentive during the first term to get things done to assure re-election (Obama health care initiative, withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan, nailing of Bin Laden, work on economy). And the second term is dedicated to legacy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ninoy's ultimate sacrifice and Cory's legacy in my opinion are the driving forces behind the good son's honest governance of the country. Six years is plenty enough for President Aquino to implement changes to the culture of impunity. And I agree with my idol Johnny Lin, Mar Roxas (whose progeny served the nation well) is the right successor to continue President Aquino's quest to rid the nation of corruption.Society fan from Renton WA

  4. So noted. Score, Pro-Roxas Readers 2, America and Friends, wherever the hell they went, 1.

  5. Another reason most Filipinos dread 4 year re-electable presidency is that the trauma of Ferdie and the subsequent martial law. It is already imprinted in the psyche of most the older generation and with the current state of politics in the country, even the youth are loathe to enable unscrupulous individuals to abuse the executive department.Regarding foreign ownership Communications and other basic industries must be kept off the hands of foreigners but at the same time they must be allowed to invest/own in other sectors that are not critical to the nation. As to mining as long as they will develop the infrastructure and rehabilitate the environment I am cool with that.

  6. Dave, thanks for the perspective about presidential term and Marcos. A big drawback for me is never having lived through the moments that Filipinos have, so my perspectives sometimes come up short, or ignorant. That helps me understand why the six years and out makes sense.Mining is a delicate area for me, and I think it depends on how much income the Philippines receives for these precious and irreplaceable commodities. I argued of nationalized mining in a different blog to maximize the value to the Philippines. Logs? Ship them out and re-grow the trees. Gold?When it is gone and it is gone, and the present generation ought not sell its kids' inheritance cheap.

  7. andrew lim says:

    Joe, Just watched the Republican convention on CNN. I'm just a casual observer of US politics, but it looks like it's getting bizarre. Clint Eastwood with the Dirty Harry backdrop, talking to an empty chair? Mitt Romney getting all teary eyed? Has it always been like this, or is the poor economy nudging it to something closer to Philippine politics?

  8. Regarding Trees and Lumbering, I am partial for the return of foreign companies as long as they are willing to nurture what they profit from. I live in the island of Negros and during the early 1900's to 1970 ILCO (Insular Lumber Comapny) was one of the largest employer at the time and frankly the standard of living by Negrenses employed by the said company is very high. ILCO is an American run and owned company, part of the concession regarding parity rights ceded by the Philippines to the US in return for reconstruction funds after WWII. During that time ILCO exploited the vast virgin forest of Negros that yielded high quality Red wood (Narra, Molave, Mahogany, etc.) used in furniture back in the States. During that time ILCO not only provided the populace decent standard of living (wages were dollars converted into pesos), but also provided health care, housing, education and best of all they replanted trees and they ain't cheap about it. They replaced 1st generation red wood with corresponding saplings and also provided forestry preservation by hiring rangers.The populace is prosperous and happy but the ugly side of the Filipinos reared its ugly head when they used slash-and-burn to the replanted area for a quick buck to sell charcoal. When most of the replanted areas were destroyed ILCO slowly abandoned the province since commercial red wood trees take 15 to 20 years to grow and the costs of maintaining and replanting is getting nowhere. After ILCO abandoned Negros the standard of living by the masses dropped precipitously and were reduced to working in sugarcane fields for a pittance. Poverty became widespread and Negros was one of 20 or some provinces during the heyday of the Communists insurgency that was heavily infiltrated and influenced by the Communists.Isn't it sad that the foreigners were the ones who nurtured the trees and the locals destroyed the replanted forests without thinking for their general welfare and the future? What is worse is that ILCO did not touch the areas where Red wood is scarce and left those areas as forest preservation but the locals were indiscriminate and burned them down. Now all I can do is imagine the heyday of my Island, prosperous people working a way of life that is fulfilling to them and the beautiful scenery around with virgin forests and wide clean rivers. Wild animals like our critically endangered native deer and plentiful wild boar roaming the forests. It is mournful to say at least that it is our own elders that destroyed the forests and they were the ones who withhold to us the beauty that was supposed to be their legacy and our inheritance because of irresponsibility and stupidity.

  9. Andrew, sorry if your first comment did not appear right away. My system seems to be randomly dumping comments to the spam file, so if I'm not on it, they don't appear right away.The political process has always been contentious and not always nice, but the angst, anger, deceits and slanders are rising to a new level of intensity for two reasons: (1) slimy ads work, and (2) the American public is growing more polarized between conservative right and liberals. So the intransigence is thick and the angers intense.It's a bad situation. Lots of game playing. Probably a bigger threat to America than China, given that the idiot partisan players of both parties keep taking the country to the economic brink.

  10. While reading, I said to myself, "what a sad story". By the end the appropriate word was "tragic". It is the same short-sightedness that leads to over-fishing and the destruction of coral beds. The working masses appear not to have a grasp of long-term benefit for short-term investment.It is a monumental conceptual void. Hard to correct, too, when poverty makes them exclaim "what do you expect me to do, become a thief or starve?" Then whack whack down comes another precious nara wood tree.This is a Rizal kind of story you bring here. So sad and so important. And so ignored.

  11. Third reason. The Supreme Court unfortunately ruled a couple of years ago that businesses can donate money to political action groups. The result is huge gobs of money flowing into advertising, which is making the extremist messages even louder, angrier, more extreme and more broadly disseminated.As ex-President Jimmy Carter exclaimed, "that was the stupidest decision by the Supreme Court in our nation's history", and he predicted the mess that the nation is now in.

  12. Now those same impoverished folks living in rural parts are riling against the sugar planters, although with justification, they brought the tragedy unto themselves. They destroyed a way of life, and now they expect someone to take up the slack although by the effort and work by various governors, Negros is now much more diversified economically but the forests are gone, so does most of the wildlife. The remaining virgin forest is mostly clustered around Mt. Canlaon and some areas in the south-west of the Island.This is the reason why I partly support the RH Bill so that the masses will be empowered and informed. One time I overheard the talk of two sugarcane workers; Guy: How many are your children now?Girl: Just 3. Me and your compadre is still hoping to have a girl soon since your compadre really like a daughter.Guy: Well it ain't bad, you already have 3 sons and they can help to work in the fields when they grow up additional income for your family.Girl: Yes I really wish they grow up quicker since finding money for their milk is very difficult. And since your compadre is handsome I hope they can marry early so that we can have an in-law to help work in the fields too.Guy: Yeah that is swell, just remember to choose a young girl, maybe 15 or 16 so that she can help both in the field and the house chores.Girl: Hehehe sure. By the way, it is my 21st birthday tomorrow, your compadre has already made advance in his wages to have a little celebration, you should bring your wife too.Guy: Really? Still so young, well I hope you and compadre add more to your family, you'll need all the hands you can get to help in work. Get busy tonight.Girl: HEHEHE the more the merrier it is…blah bla blahSeriously I face-palmed myself after hearing the conversation, I think my brain suffered concussion hehehe 😀 Anyhow I hope the RH-Bill can talk some sense to these people or if not as in the internet meme "kill them with fire, before they lay eggs"

  13. ahahaha "kill them with fire, before they lay eggs." I'd not heard that before. That's great.Ignorance is a horrible commodity, eh? Can't market it, really. Hard to stamp it out. The thinking you cite is the thinking that exists here, too. Rice growing area. Kids are labor. They aren't gems to be polished, or vibrant souls to be nourished. They are almost not even people.

  14. Anonymous says:

    @Johnny Lin – This calls to mind what the framers of the Constitution said (I forget who) – "4 years is too short for a good president, and 8 years is too long for a bad one." Unfortunately for us, we had to endure 9 years of a REALLY bad president.Sarah

  15. But But But, corporations are people too 😉

  16. Dave, funny. You and Mitt the Wit . . .

  17. Seriously Joe I feel offended, I pay and file my correct income taxes 😀

  18. Nah, for one I do not have offshore dollar accounts, and I do not have any shell company enjoying tax havens in the Caymans 😀

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