The Mathematics of Effective Governance

by Ben Diskurso

Philippine Joint Session

Hindsight is always clearer.

I was in Grade 5 reviewing for a quarterly exam when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated at what is now known as NAIA 1.  What was to happen after that all culminated in the eventual overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos 3 years later.

And then as one people, we ratified the 1987 Constitution.  We have never looked back since then. But perhaps we should have.

So we had a 20-year dictatorship that used the full power and brutality of the State to further entrench landed interests that had been around way before 1898.  In order to make sure this did not happen again, we in 1987 clipped the powers of all future sitting Presidents by limiting them to a single 6-year term. At long last, we made sure Martial Law would never happen again by banishing the evil of a perpetual hold on power forever. Or did we?

The 6 year term limitation

The problem I have with a term limitation of 6 years is that it will never be enough time for any well-meaning reform to take root. One has to wonder how long it has taken Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and now Thailand (and Vietnam?) to get to where they are now. And yet they still have problems.

The tired subject of Marcos being the best president ever should never turn into a debate about his brilliance or mediocrity, nor should it be about good or evil, reality or delusion. The first is a function of what qualification voters are willing to consider; the second is a function of perception; the third a matter of what voters tell themselves afterwards. The point here is 29 years or so after EDSA if we continue to debate amongst ourselves who did what during whose presidency, we would really be condemning ourselves to the eternal hell of chasing our own tails – addressing only the symptoms of our society’s ills rather than their true causes. At some point we would have to assume that we would on our luckiest days elect an honest, qualified person for the job; and on our unluckiest elevate a completely thieving buffoon into our country’s highest office. In the absence of any control, we should really be asking ourselves about the need to create a mechanism for timely adjustments.

Even if we were to humor ourselves, the debate on who had been the best president should rightfully be an argument based on numbers, specifically in the number of years served. If Marcos, in all of his 20 years, did indeed make the most positive contribution of all the presidents, it is precisely because he had 20 years, more than any other president. Perhaps I should add here that in the context of rumors that Imelda was the one running the show in his final years, even Marcos’ 20 years becomes debatable. Nevertheless, one would have to assume that he had enough time to learn the ropes of running government; formulate his solutions and implement them.

The wisdom behind the 6-year term limit is that it is too long for a very bad leader. Very few would contest this except that on the flip-side of it all, 6 years is also too short for a very good one. We often hear about the country needing to sustain its momentum. We know this in our hearts and yet always we fall short. Businessmen for one, often concern themselves about whether contracts or programs will be honored and continued by an incoming president hostile to his or her predecessor. “Never change horses in midstream.”, some would say. “Why bench a shooter on a hot streak?”, others would ask. The analogies are endless.

A parliamentary-federal system

While the next question should be: “So how many years should a sitting president serve?”, my answer begs this question – Why should we insist on a presidency if it is obviously not working for us? Why should we not consider a parliamentary-federal system in place of the current centralized-presidential one?

“Ah, but Filipinos are a fickle lot. In a parliamentary system, they would change leaders like they would change clothes.” Well, the news is, so do the Italians and the Indians, and the Aussies. And yes, Filipinos have done that too – change leaders on a collective whim. Simple principle – you change something you’re not happy with. You just need to make sure you can hold someone accountable for what happens next.  Only unlike the Italians, Indians and Aussies, Filipinos have compromised the Constitution every time they did this. Worse, on each instance we undermined faith in our laws and hijacked our respect for authority. Sure we got Erap to step down, but for the most part, GMA could not be held accountable for any of her actions, whether good or bad. I have to argue that if any coup had succeeded in removing GMA, that it would take yet another coup to remove the previous remover. And then it becomes habitual.

I do not know if switching to a parliamentary system will ever happen in my lifetime. Because for as long as we continue to have a Senate that has zero accountability whatsoever, it remains to be a pipe dream.

A Senate of zero-accountability

It typically takes about 12 million votes to make a senator; and no single electoral district in the Philippines has that many voters. For a senator to get the required number of votes, he would have to get voters from several precincts to vote him into office. Difficult as this may seem, we always get our 24 senators one way or another. The problem is in making the senator accountable to a single, identifiable group of people. That is where the challenges come up. A senator is one step away from the presidency, assuming he is popular or knows how to pander to populist sentiments. He gets the same opportunities for sound-bytes as the president; and unlike the vice-president, who could be rendered “irrelevant” (e.g. Doy Laurel) by any president, a senator can hide behind his fellow-Senators and the Lower House for any promised legislation that he failed to live up to. He could always hide behind the excuse that his fellow legislators erred in judgment for shooting down his bills. I would have no problem if the 3 Blue Ribbon Senators in Cayetano, Trillanes and Pimentel investigated the Pope himself, let alone the Veep. My beef is that they can investigate anybody in aid of legislation, smear everything that person stood for, without actually coming up with any legislation. The Senate as a body has devolved into a TV soap where newbies get their acting breaks in the hope they get to play roles on the big-screen(read: presidency). Simply put, the Senate as a legislative body is what it has always been since 1987 – completely useless.

A senator gets a yearly pork barrel allocation of 200 million. One has to feel for the OFW who has to leave his family behind or the BPO employee who puts her health and safety at risk working at night just to earn 200 thousand pesos. These poor folks have to get along and go along, while our senators can just recklessly rattle their sabres. After all, power is such a great thing to have. So let’s forgive our dear senators if they are not too eager to give up power so easily. Let’s forgive them that we actually have to make them give up their power.

A House of zero-accountability

Assuming we could all share the same views regarding the Senate, ultimately we have to turn our attention to our equally honorable congressmen. In our current presidential system, even with much-diminished power compared to that of senators, it is just as difficult to hold a congressman accountable to his constituents. In the case of congressmen, it is not that one cannot trace their supporters back to one electoral district. Rather, accountability is more of a function of visibility and visibility as a function of location. A congressman from the Visayas could practically gallivant his way around Metro Manila, away from the prying and vigilant eyes of his constituents, and still hold the executive branch hostage on any piece of legislation (including the all-important annual General Appropriations Act) in the name his yearly pork barrel.

The number escapes me, but I can pretty much stake my entire bloodline that a congressman’s pork barrel is much more substantial than what an OFW or BPO employee earns in a year. I will grant that it is but a fraction of that of a senator’s; but in the case of most congressmen, it is not simply a matter of pork. In most cases, it is also a matter of land back in his hometown, and perhaps, this is best taken up in a different blog post. It is a complicated discussion in itself, seeing the need to compare agrarian reform policies against taxation policies on real property, and how all that would both impact and hinge on our very naughty congressmen.

Parliamentary mathematics

Going back to the subject of a parliamentary system, in theory it would be relatively easier to hold congressmen accountable to their constituents, than it would be to hold senators accountable to theirs. There are accompanying assumptions however.

One such assumption is that congressional constituencies could be well defined. In the UK, for example, the ratio of voters to an MP or Member of Parliament, is about 150 thousand to one.

A second assumption is that voters could be more judicious of their choices. But perhaps in the early stages of a presumed parliamentary system, we could settle for fickle if not educated voters.

The last assumption is that we could actually make good on our oft expressed proposals to shift from a presidential system to a unicameral parliamentary one. This would translate into entrusting the power of senators into the stewardship of what we at present refer to as congressmen in matters of national legislation. That would be a feat in itself, considering the track record of congressmen. But at some point we need to ask ourselves how long we will allow our fears to decide whether to do right by ourselves for ourselves.

In a parliamentary system, the power of congressmen is increased two-fold – a case of addition by subtraction of senators and of the president (replaced by a prime minister elected by the majority congressmen). With the addition of power, comes the addition of accountability, for in such a scenario the current excuse legislators (in a presidential system) cling to for not getting important legislation passed (i.e. that it has not passed the Lower House or that it has but has been nixed by the Upper House) has been reduced to something that our very naughty congressmen would stutter over trying to explain to their constituents. Furthermore, in a parliamentary system, as long as an effort at addition by addition is pursued in the area of making electoral recalls simple enough to initiate, it would be very easy for a disgruntled group of voters to “recall” their misbehaving or underperforming congressman. At the national level, a vote of no-confidence has pretty much the same effect on a prime minister.

The concept behind all this is that we are training our vigilance not on 3 or 4 separate power structures – the Office of the President, the Office of the VP, the Senate and the Lower House, but shifting it all on just 1 power structure which is Congress( i.e. the Lower House or Parliament). Less time and energy, fewer resources, greater power concentrated, but with increased ability on the part of the citizenry to demand and actually exact a lot more accountability. These are all politicians and they live for the limelight, so why not give them that?

Change means not staying the same

Joe-Am would add federalism to this parliamentary cocktail I am sure of it; and I would concede to this for any chance at creating a strong two-party system that is built on a principle that there can only be 2 sides of this question – “Should government be more involved or less involved in the affairs of the citizens?”. Should we be a “welfare state” or should we be a “laissez faire state”? Do we centralize or do we empower? I don’t know about the rest of the country, but I am growing extremely weary listening to who stole this and who did that but never really achieving anything. No one goes to jail, and lives even if they improve, only do so marginally.

Nothing is ever perfect, but for as long as we pick a system that suits us best given our collective attitude towards government there is always a way to keep abuses in check. We just have to sift through the simple from the complicated, the practical from the ambitious, after we have all decided what is worth the trouble to pursue.

Martial Law and our fear of it gave birth to the Constitution in its present form. We ratified it as one people in 1987. We have not looked back since.  But perhaps this time around we should. Perhaps it is time to move beyond the trappings of personalities and have a very good look at our systems and structures. The Constitution is a living document. It is not the Bible. If it is true we copied ours from the Americans, then we should at least be aware that America’s founding fathers made provisions for amendments in their Constitution precisely because they knew then that changes to it will be necessary from time to time and precisely because they knew that that they did not know everything. Why should we think our situation is any different?

“Hindsight is always clearer.” And it is clearer for a very good reason. Perhaps it is to avoid quoting it again and again.


184 Responses to “The Mathematics of Effective Governance”
  1. Bert says:

    Granting that we succeeded in transforming to the parliamentary form, what assurance and guarantee are there in this kind of government that the elected crooks, for surely the electorates will be electing the same crooked personalities holding positions now, will not be as rapacious (pardon the term) as before?

    • bendiskurso says:

      There are no assurances, Bert. I do not believe there can ever be. But there are “levers” that influence behavior. Attacking the problem from a structural standpoint is but a first step.

  2. Steve says:

    To me the problem is one of political culture, not political structure, and I can’t see an effective structural fix to a cultural problem. As long as the political culture tolerates and provides impunity (of which corruption is but a subset), any structure can and will be subverted.

    The great weakness of a parliamentary/federal system is that it provides no meaningful possibility of checking the power of the feudal dynasties that control so many provincial areas. In theory, regionally elected parliamentarians should be more accountable to the people. When the districts are dominated by families with an absolute lock on political and economic activity reinforced by effective immunity form the law this theory is not going to work very well. What we’re likely to get is a Parliament dominated by the provincial dynasties, choosing executives that suit their interests.

    Impunity is the elephant in the drawing room. It is a traditional prerogative of the Philippine governing class, but it is totally incompatible with successful government. Both electoral democracy and a market economy depend on fair competition, at the ballot box and in the market, to produce efficiency. When some people, those with the greatest competitive advantage to start, are above the law and don’t have to follow rules, fair competition is impossible and efficiency is not produced. As long as impunity remains, I can’t see any structural fix having much impact.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Yes Steve the problem is partly cultural. That is the part that is being addressed by education. What can I say? Education itself needs improvement and from all indications, we are regressing.

      In any case, it takes time and commitment for education to bear fruit. With a parliamentary system, sure we could still manage to elect baboons who would then vote in a master baboon as prime minister, but that’s just it – it is easier to change and vote a ruling party out of power. You don’t need to wait 3 years or 6 years.

  3. mk03 (aka Mami Kawada Lover) says:

    Hey Joe, my comment here disappeared. What happened?

  4. josephivo says:

    Accountability of politicians is a good point. How to expose that most celebrities are hopeless in legislating? How to expose the selfish legislating of dynasties? How to teach that selecting your representative is different from selecting a beauty queen? Isn’t that what you are talking about?

    In the same breath: How to get incorruptible judges? How to get the SC out of every disagreement? How to speed up justice? How to install a free press? How to get real political parties, dealing with issues instead of alliances?…

    Democratic maturity is more than a good system alone. A new “WE ARE THE PEOPLE !!!” movement is be needed, this time with an energetic follow through.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Good question on exposing the inept ones. Well JoeAm and I had discussions previously about the correct role of media in a democratic society. And I remember saying that our media, hysterical as it sometimes is, has its uses.

      It takes a discerning mind to sift through garbage that media spews out, but that is the point of education. Please refer to my comment above addressed to Steve.

      I did say in my post that it may never happen in my lifetime. What I did not say is that we cannot plant the seeds that future generations will harvest. And I still won’t say this.

  5. Yvonne says:

    I think one of the reasons for the long-lingering political problem that we have now was that Marcos effectively dismantled our political leadership by either imprisoning, or politically persecuting, those that opposed him – so much so that when he was overthrown from power it created a political leadership vacuum from which we have not been able to recover completely.

    Gone are the days when we have true political parties with government platforms to talk about. What we are seeing now are political parties of convenience with no discernible platforms, and short-lived alliances among these political parties.

    Gone for good were the days of such top-caliber legislators and nationalists like Aquino, Diokno, Tanada, Salonga, Tolentino, Sumulong, Kalaw, Katigbak, etc. – just to name a few.

    In their instead, we got a Lapid, Estrada, Honasan, Revilla, Binay, Sotto, and their likes.

    • bendiskurso says:

      I won’t say much about your Marcos comment since I do not exactly want to defend him, nor do I wish to heap blame on a guy who’s been dead for over 20 years. as JoeAm now knows, I would rather attack structures than personalities. My take on your comment is this: we have to make do with the cards we are dealt, and if that does not work out, it is still in our collective power to make the necessary changes.

      Structural change creates the environment that one people can effectively operate in. In effect, the concept is engineering our people into maturity.

      And yes, I do agree with you too. We need strong political parties with clearly delineated ideologies. Personalities such as those you mentioned should be secondary, whether they are brilliant or mediocre. This takes time too, and unfortunately, it can never be fast enough. Poverty is such a huge problem it threatens several generations.

      • Yvonne says:

        Yes, I agree. The issues of poverty, education, and maturity are pretty much inter-related. We cannot achieve one without the other two, so it becomes a “catch-22” situation. And it goes to the heart of your thesis why it takes longer for any administration to re-built, or to undertake structural changes.

      • edgar lores says:

        To a certain extent, it is true that parliamentary politics are driven by differentiations in ideological values. But I think it is false to say and to expect that parliamentary politics are divorced from personality considerations.

        Here in Oz, the last federal election and the last state election in Queensland hinged for the most part on the personality of the incumbent Prime Minister and Premier respectively. And when I say “personality”, I am not only referring to that of the Leaders but also to that of ruling Party.

        o In the Federal election, the ruling Labor Party displayed such internal disunity in the inner wranglings for the Prime Ministership as to disgust the public; in an almost extra-constitutional event, the elected Prime Minister was deposed in an internal party coup.

        o In the Queensland State election, the broken promises of a non-charismatic Premier and his Liberal National Party in government caused a tide of sentiment against them.

        o In both cases, a change of the ruling party ensued.

        Look closely at parliamentary governments everywhere. Political structure can never insulate a nation from the influence of personality politics. And politics can never be entirely devoid of the personality of leaders and their parties. It is impossible.

        • edgar lores says:

          While “all politics is local” in parliamentary systems, many voters nowadays who do not keep track of their local candidates are influenced by what they know of the character of the Prime Minister. In this way, parliamentary systems are becoming “presidential” in tenor.

          • bendiskurso says:

            Karl had asked me to comment on your points here, Ed.

            I agree that structure is never going to insulate a nation from personality politics, at least not completely. But the structural change I speak of actually would give Filipinos the license to quickly vote in or remove just about anybody who could sound sexy enough to get voted and yet be objectionable enough to be removed soon after.

            I believe you were speaking about kevin Rudd. From what my old boss in Sydney told me once over several bottles of beer, yes there was infighting and a leading party-mate had been kicked to the curb because of Rudd. It could be public disgust that eventually got him axed, bec what he did was generally seen to be very un-Australian. But it could also be bec Rudd among other sins squandered what was a insurmountable budget surplus and turned it into a huge deficit in just a few years as PM. I am not sure we will ever know exactly what triggered his downfall so we leave that to the analysts.

            What I do have to point out is that Rudd was promptly kicked out of office bec Australians had a legally acceptable recourse in removing him – a legal recourse provided by a parliamentary system. Change government? No problem. OZ laws provide for that. Parliamentary systems may have some presidential tenor as you say, but in what presidential system has it happened that a vote of no confidence promptly removed a president?

            I am not sure why Australians chose a parliamentary form of government or if they did this to insulate themselves from personality politics. All I can observe is that their system seems to be working most of the time. Perhaps it’s bec Aussies are more self aware and have long accepted that they can make huge mistakes in their leadership choices?

            I do not want to say that personalities should be a non factor in government. Personality is and it always has been a huge factor in any polity, especially in ours.

            My argument for structural change is not to eliminate personality from the equation. But rather it is to push for a simpler stop-loss mechanism, a way to correct mistakes. This mechanism is what we need precisely bec we often fall prey to personalities – voting them in only to belatedly realize that we should not have.

            Of course we could end up being like India or Italy with a parliamentary system, but at least we do not have rely on an often lengthy and divisive impeachment process that is influenced by largesse, or rely on a coup that is often driven by sexy adventurism.

  6. manuel buencamino says:

    Presidential to parliamentary?

    To call our system presidential is to mis-label our system of government.

    One cannot label our system as presidential because the President is only one leg of a tri-partite system of government. Our system has three co-equal branches, each with its own powers, duties, and responsibilities. Trinity is a better label.

    There is a neater delineation of boundaries between our three branches of government whereas in a parliamentary system – and by the way which parliamentary system is being put forward? – there are those where the relationship between parliament and the courts is not clear; there are others where the relationship between the Head of State, the Prime Minister, and the courts is not clear; there are monarchs in some and presidents in others and their power, duties and responsibilities vis a vis their prime minister and parliament is not clear. So which parliamentary system will we be our model?

    I have yet to see, in terms of checks and balance and the distribution of powers, duties, and responsibilities how a parliamentary system is superior to and neater than the tri-partite system we have.

    Besides there is no better guarantee of democracy than having a system where power is diffused rather than concentrated in one body.

    In the Philippines, congressional districts are based on population. Shifting to a parliamentary will not change that except in terms of adding or subtracting the number of people per district.

    As to the Philippine Senate, I would not be against a system where senators are elected to represent regions or provinces similar to the way they do in the US where states have x number of congressional districts per state based on population and two senators each regardless of population, geographic area, or wealth. That method of allocating Senate representation serves to balance the power between rich and poor states, populous and non-populous states, small and large states in addition to balancing the district view with a state-wide view.

    So, other than revising representation in the Senate and fine-tuning the relationships among the three branches when needed, I would stick to the tri-partite system of government.

    It’s Trinity for me.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Two senators per region would be a good idea. The Senate would remain the same size and the senators would try to do as much as possible for “their” region because they want to be re-elected, which would give them something useful to do and strengthen regional representation without the centrifugal and feudal risks that federalism bears in the specifically Philippine situation. Little or nothing to amend in the Constitution which is good.

    • BFD says:

      I’ll go with Manuel on this, the Senators should be elected regionally. We have 12 regions with 2 autonomous regions, so 14 in all. If we could elect 2 each per region, there will 26 senators, but each senator will region he was voted on.

      I guess this would be a good make up of the Senate of the future, representing diverse cultures and peoples.

      • PinoyinEurope says:

        And since Filipino culture is basically tribal and clannish in nature, such a Senate would be a living representation of a modern type of tribal confederation. Take Filipino culture as it is, accept it and go from there. Stop trying to pretend to be anything else for show.

    • bendiskurso says:

      I would not say that any system is better than the other. But I would argue which is more suitable for the filipino temperament.

      • karl garcia says:

        regionally elected senators eliminates the chances of an all luzon senate, all visayas, or all mindanao. senate,. in my simplistic view.

        • karl garcia says:

          this can be manipulated through the residency rule of six(?) months, people with no permanent addresses will feast on this.

  7. Joe America says:

    I like the discipline of dealing with structures rather than personalities (your comment to yvonne), but I think a part of structural change is pragmatism, and can we actually get it done. There is a huge resistance to constitutional change because no one trusts anyone in this neck of the woods. We open the door so that we can authorize more foreign ownership and all of a sudden we have a dictator in place.

    I tend to think the constitution is fine, what needs to change is attitudes about democracy. Democracy is designed to be messy, because it is the balancing of the pushing and shoving of vested interests that moves the nation along a progressive, centrist line. When the wobble is too far left or right, it gets corrected. The idea that it should be smooth and seamless and just the way we would do it is . . . well . . . absurd.

    Honor the structure, and honor the electoral cycle. And honor the duly elected president. This idea that impeachment or coups are needed reflects, not a weakness in structure, but a weakness in popular thinking.

    What the nation really needs is a great orator.

    • BFD says:

      I’ll take on a role of a yes man for a moment, I agree with what Joe commented, honor the present structure and honor the electoral cycle.

    • karl garcia says:

      Popular thinking..i remember edgar noted that we don’t have philosophers of note throughout history.what we have are pilosopos which is not the vernacular for philosophers, but smart alecs.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Well we can’t expect the current power holders to give up power anytime soon.

      And yes, trust is a vital element. Martial law betrayed us all. If only back then we had a dictator that was actually reform minded enough to make structural changes along these lines, things might be different. Myanmar is an interesting subject of observation, considering that they are now gradually stepping out of decades of military rule.

      Marcos and Ninoy were great orators, JoeAm. The Salongas and Tanadas of our society were not too far behind either. Perhaps too many of them at the same time?

      Just cannot shake the belief that Filipinos are wired to defy authority, no matter who is in power. Maybe something about it makes one heroic or gets the girls. Guerrillas in ww2 stole from food warehouses controlled by the Japs and the second republic because it was necessary to give food to the starving Filipinos displaced by war. Where that was necessary back then, maybe someone forgot to tell everyone else that it is now peacetime? Or it really is sexier to be heroic?

      Well I would take the path to least resistance here and let the egotists have their day. Let them prove that they can deliver, and if not let’s have an easier method of throwing them out.

      Like I said though, it won’t happen in my lifetime. But the writing is on the wall.

      • Joe America says:

        It’s the girls . . . of course . . . (forehead slap)

      • karl garcia says:

        so no one wants to be heroic, remind them that heroes are dead.

        • Joe America says:

          I thought it was odd that there were only 44 designated heroes at the Battle of Mamasapano, as if courage and achievement in the face of great danger were not proper qualifications, but dying is. How come there is no award ceremony for the survivors? They are not heroes because they survived? Like, the guy who got the finger. Why is he not recognized? I mean, cutting that off to me makes that guy the biggest hero of them all. Who was he? I’d like to buy him a beer or six.

          • karl garcia says:

            people must remember that those who lived to tell, are heroes too.

            sorry if i am just rephrasing what you said, but that is the way for me to show you that I agree.

            In the extreme the OFWS who are very much alive are getting sick to be called “bagong bayani”, because they know it is about their remittances, even if the best pr/marketing man tells them that it is about their sacrifices.

            • Joe America says:

              I once asked benigno about heroes, as he was being critical of all the (superficial) hero worshiping done in the Philippines. I said, “yeah, what about the guy who dives on a grenade to keep his buddies from getting blasted? What do you call him?” Benigno’s answer stuck with me to this day, “a good soldier”.

              I actually like that designation better. It uplifts the entire corps of military people willing to risk their lives, whether they are called heroes or not.

              The hero designation I believe is mostly us talking to ourselves, explaining away the pain.

          • Joe the one who cut the finger, Sr. Police Insp. Gebnat Tabdi, died too 😦

      • PinoyinEurope says:

        Defiance to authority always grows in places where authority is not seen as legitimate. Plus remember that the Philippines was not only under Spanish but mainly under Mexican influence for hundreds of years. You just have to watch some old Erap movies or similar stuff to see the influence of Mexican culture. The bandido image did bring Erap a lot of girls and even the presidency. As for the culture of improvisation, it is simply something Filipinos have gotten used to, they just expect things to be always fucked up.

        • Bert says:

          Or listen to an old Tagalog song sung by a girl. Goes like this:

          Ang tipo kong lalake, maginoo pero medyo bastos
          Ayaw ko sa sobrang maginoo
          Dahil baka ako ay mabato
          Ang tipo kong lalake
          Ang tipo kong lalake
          Ang tipo kong lalake
          Yung medyo bastos
          Maginoo pero medyo bastos
          Maginoo pero medyo bastos
          Maginoo pero medyo bastos

  8. ella says:

    in my small mind, the problem in the Philippines is that institutions in general are very weak. all the institutions in government are so weak that these can be easily controlled by anyone who has the means to control it.

    • karl garcia says:

      you call that a small mind? it is a very valid point.and I know you have lots of them.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Well institutions are weak bec personalities are strong or bec people tend to make personalities stronger and bigger than institutions.

      Filipinos are an emotional lot. You supply them structures that take too long to bring about change, and they are easily hurt and marginalized. Case in point, almost every sector wants a party list representation. You almost have to wonder if the whole country is marginalized.

      • Joe America says:

        A hundred million party list reps

      • karl garcia says:

        even the partylist system which is supposed to solve personality based voting , but it doesn’t, because whatever name of that partylist you still look at thelineup and not the so called partylist platform.
        but i agree
        if everyone feels marginaized, there would be one man partylists with no constituency,but himself.

      • PinoyinEurope says:

        As long as there is good lechon and San Miguel Beer in every party, everything is fine. Seriously, even abroad you have the same phenomenon – Filipino associations split up over the smallest of quarrels and the arguments are the same as in the Senate. The Filipino mentality hardly has progressed beyond that of constantly warring barangays with their datus, the level above the datus (rajas and sultans) managed to hold together temporary alliances of barangays for a while but never for too long.

        My old man always taught me not to give in one inch on anything – huwag magpalamang. Just observe traffic in Metro Manila – it is about not giving in one inch, because if you do the other guy will take that inch. Fairness is seen as weakness and those who don’t watch out do get marginalized – witness how Filipino tribes have dealt with one another, first driving the Aetas up the mountains, then both Christian and Muslim tribes drove the pagan tribes up the mountains because they could – simple as that.

        Institutions in the Philippines have often been hijacked by groups using them for their own interests, and can be terribly arrogant to those outside them while always finding ways for insiders, so it is not surprising that people do not trust them. It will take time to build that, for the meantime it is good to give as many groups as possible a voice and transparency so that they can see that there is no monkey business going on. The process of building a real civic society in the Philippines will take around 20-30 years in my estimation.

        • Karl garcia says:

          Party all the time. Speaking of interests, how is national interest defined if everyone has its own interests to bother with? Same as national identity vis a vis individual identity?
          Last. I will be looking forward to your guest article, if you are receptive to the idea.

  9. karl garcia says:

    another trust issue, i myself in my comment above already thought about manipulation through residence changing when regional senators were proposed.

    we did not trust gma so jdv,pedrosa,abueva,etc flopped in their campaign, we see hidden agendas in everything, so it is another trust issue.

    trust will minimize or eliminate deal killers,bill killers,proposal killers ,etc.

    but trust is only one thing,resistance to change is another.

    • Joe America says:

      I found this previously unknown (to me) commentary on trust:

      “For the Government, integrity is the foremost trust driver, dwarfing competence, performance, and leadership. Four out of 10 Filipinos say that “not being corrupt” is the most important driver for them to trust government. However, less than 2 of 10 believe that the Government is not corrupt.”

      And, horror of horrors, the tabloid media are the most trusted source of information . . .

      • karl garcia says:

        oh no horror of horrors indeed.

        ben says education is the counter to tabloid media, but media is the most trusted source of information because of its omnipresence .

        on integrity,trust …the GI joe cartoon is wrong Knowing is not even half the battle.

        the government knows it is imperative to be trusted,by showing integrity.It obviously does not show so people don’t trust them.since they don’t trust them once they show it,they won’t believe them, because they believe what they read and hear in the media.

        • bendiskurso says:

          which is why I go back to my hypothesis that we maintain too many power structures that are built on personalities instead of ideologies, instead of a few. it’s almost as if our current system of government accommodates just about anybody with a mouth on him and perhaps a rabble of fanatical supporters.

          media thrives because there are so many leaders to attack and smear. in the same way that sex sells better over mathematics, people like to read and hear and talk about scandals than informative news and good deeds.

          trust is important. but accountability is not just about trust. it is more than that. it is also about results.

          good results? let’s reward.

          bad results? let’s not waste too much time throwing them out. but let’s do it within an acceptable legal framework. unfortunately in our current system, that is either through impeachment, or a coup.

          • karl garcia says:

            well put, sir.

          • Joe America says:

            ‘. . . in the same way that sex sells better over mathematics, people like to read and hear and talk about scandals than informative news and good deeds.”

            There is a quote that is going to find its way into my blogs now and then. The enemy is not the tabloids, it is us. Or way too many of us, anyway.

      • josephivo says:


        People see more road works, more subdivisions, more malls, more classrooms…. And they know that you can only eat the same cake once, so less money must disappear in foreign accounts.

        People see less arrogant, less incompetent, less subservient secretaries… And they believe that there is a correlation between competence and honesty.

        People see less blatant corruption in dealing with municipal employees, traffic enforcers, tax collectors… And they believe that some might start doing their jobs.

        People can talk more openly about corruption… With less fear that something unfortunate might happen to their house or family.

        People can smell a new breath of fresh air in politics. I will be no more possible to fool them all in the next elections.

        Maybe it’s only my perception on day with a blue sky and the sun shining 🙂 

        • karl garcia says:

          summer is here, more sunny days and blue skies ahead. 🙂

        • Joe America says:

          We’ll see if the people trust the President more than the multitude of powerful coup or resignation advocates. If so, the sky will remain blazing blue.

          • bendiskurso says:

            Well here i am openly disliking PNoy. And here I am attacking the presidential system of government.

            But what is resignation going to solve? what is a coup going to solve? what is impeachment going to accomplish?

            I say let the president finish his term. If things ever go south, then that’s our price for electing him into office. We all pay as citizens, whether or not we voted for him.

            • Joe America says:

              Well, you respect institutions, so that is a healthy finding. Not enough people value the institution of democracy, and upon voting, recognize they are delegating their power to the elected person . . . like it our not . . . like him or not . . .

              It’s a contract, and it ought to be respected unless there are egregious violations. Not showing up for caskets and assigning military operations to people who are supposed to be professionals is not egregious.

          • karl garcia says:

            fvr has another book launching this afternoon, if the tabloid media makes a big deal out of this, and then ask for his words of fury i mean wisdom,we really are looking for trouble.

            • karl garcia says:

              Good thing it was taken as a non-event. At the same time the pesident found time to talk with the families of the fallen good soldiers( police),which was showing he is doing something about it already,what’s done is done

  10. Bruce in Iloilo says:

    Adopting whole-hog a system from another country is a recipe for disaster. The best functioning countries have political systems that have evolved over time, with corrections here and there, that fits their unique circumstances. Every parliamentary system is different. Every presidential system is different. And there are hybrids between the two (or three or four) systems. Which parliamentary system would you adopt — one like Britain’s or like Germany’s? In some countries, it is forbidden for the prime minister to be a member of parliament.

    Instead of looking for The One Big Fix that will magically make the country better, we need to realize that real change takes a long time. Real change, real improvement, is incremental. Instead of looking to The One Big Fix we need to look to adopt a series of smaller reforms that move us in the right direction and that works with Philippine political history and culture. If you like the idea of making it easier to remove the executive, then change the rules of the Philippine House that makes it so hard to impeach a president (very long discussion but compare how the Philippine House goes about considering impeachment to how the U.S. House does, say when the U.S. House impeach Pres. Clinton). If you like the idea of federalism, then strengthen provincial and local governments (the UK is a unitary state but has parliaments in Scotland and Wales with more power than provincial governments here). Other areas of reform: initiative and referendum law; anti-dynasty bill; freedom of information act; school decentralization; tax decentralization; anti-monopoly bill; party-list reform; etc.

    Don’t go for an all-or-nothing, import-from-abroad, whole-hog reform. Rather push for achievable reforms that can be done now.

    • karl garcia says:

      actionable in the interim is fine, but for Profound change to happen someone must launch an initial proposal to be voted upon by plebiscite and timing,timing and resolve must be important.
      ,the proponents must remove any sign of doubt for all the doubting thomases,

      if resolve cant do that i don’t know the word for it..

      sans an initial launching or whatever, a proposal would just be like that a proposal forever
      for the timebeing continue with the incremental and actionable change.

      the change agents that will lead the change must show up somehow while we are at it.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Well, I never really intended for my notion of a parliamentary system for the country as THE ONE QUICK FIX. It does however present a shift from personality-driven government to a more structural-ideological alternative.

      It is meant to be taken as a framework, or a blueprint or a template, if you would. Nothing more. In my view it is but a first step, assuming it happens. The devil is in the details, always.

      As far as copying another country’s system, one quick look would actually draw parallels with that of the United States. So in a sense, we are still copying. There is nothing wrong with copying per se. It is always in the taking into account the local realities that makes all the difference.

  11. Bing Garcia says:

    Welcome, Ben!

  12. If my memory serves me right, Ex President Marcos had tried this structural change in the government, Hence we had the following: President Marcos, Prime Minister Cesar Virata, a rubber stamp parliament, cabinets like Defense Minister Enrile, etc, etc…we had the Batasang Pambansa building which housed the said rubber stamp parliament whose members were the parents or in-laws of the current congressmen and senators… same old, same old.

    With our favorite VP’s adopted sister town and cities, he can have as many assemblymen/women as he wants elected into office and have himself perpetually elected as the lifetime Prime minister…

    My point is we need to have a nationwide information campaign to properly educate the voters specially those in far flung areas on the need to do away with traditional politicians and their descendants who have a political and economic stronghold on their localities…. to somehow mitigate or offset the tabloid media’s influence and the continuing vote buying sprees…can’t the patriotic millionaire businessmen and well to do middle class adopt a certain group of indigent voters during election time so that they will not fall prey to the likes of these political vultures. If we can elect into office the truly principled legislators, then any government structure will do.

    • bendiskurso says:

      yes, Marcos tried to do it. whether he had intended it for himself or for the country’s future when he started out is a question that we can only all speculate on. History shows he handed the reins of power to his dear Imeldific way before his time was up.

      Perhaps he enjoyed his girls way too much, eh? JoeAm?

      Perhaps he paid the dear price of emotional blackmail as a result? Been known to happen.

  13. Bert says:

    “With our favorite VP’s adopted sister town and cities, he can have as many assemblymen/women as he wants elected into office and have himself perpetually elected as the lifetime Prime minister…”—Mary Grace P. Gonzales

    Ah, sounds scary. Are we ready for this, Mr. Bendiscurso?

    • bendiskurso says:

      I don’t know, Bert.

      But that is, theoretically, the function of an electoral recall. In my example, if 150 thousand vote in an individual into parliament, the same 150 thousand can recall him and vote another person(presumably better) to replace him, at any time.

      You assume educated voters of course. At least schooled enough to make it difficult for a single local official to fool all 150 thousand of those voters.

      But am I talking about a parliamentary option because I am afraid of the VEEP? Nope. I do not view it in light of a Binay or an Erap or PNoy or whoever else.

      I am attacking the structure. The personalities I do not control and do not wish to.

      But if we truly are concerned about JEsus JOseph MARy, then I say let’s amend the Omnibus Election Code while we still can, and limit suffrage rights to taxpayers of the last 3 calendar years. This way, we do not need Trillanes et al to hurt his own stock by trying desperately to expose the Veep. We just simply take away Binay’s voter base.

      • chit navarro says:

        The right to suffrage is guaranteed in Sec. 5 of our Constitution and not just in the Omnibus Election Code. Thus, limiting the right of suffrage is a violation of human rights. – That has always been the opinion given out when this limit to right of suffrage is brought out.

        What a great government we would have if the right of sufrage is exercised only by those who are not in the market to sell votes.


        • bendiskurso says:

          Don’t worry Chit. My proposal to take away Binay’s voter base is never going to come to fruition. It won’t attract a lot of support from either his allies or his enemies.

          Plus it kinda goads the masses into a frenzied rage.

          Gotta admit that it is a little bad-ass though. hehehe

      • Bert says:

        Ben, may I call you Ben as my keyboard is Chinese so prone to error and I don’t want to misspell your name again, :(.

        Ben, parliamentary (the structure) is the problem, not the personality, though the personality in this case is more dreadful than the structure. Am I making sense? Please bear with me. As I understand it, in a Parliamentary form, the assembly men and women, in a bicameral system the lower and upper house, are the ones who will choose and vote for their choice of Prime Minister. Once the assemblymen/assemblywomen are voted in, the constituency voters no longer matter. Which brings us back to what commenter Mary Grace P. Gonzales stated (above) and to which I agree, that regionally elected representatives, being influenced by Binay’s adoption program, will make it easy for a potential perpetual rule by a fearsome personality.

        In a brief summary of what’s in my mind, there is a wider window in a Parliamentary system wherein a bad national leader can perpetuate himself. In contrast, in a presidential system, all we need (sometimes) is simply a Senate investigation in aid of legislation to expose the bad character of a potential presidential material without having to amend the Omnibus Election Code That requires, of course, the presence of a sitting president with a clean reputation, which also requires continuity, which means that we, the voting population, should vote for a candidate with clean reputation as well, in the next presidential election.

        Sorry guys, I’m not sure if I’m coherent enough. My problem.

        • Joe America says:

          Exquisite, Bert. Couldn’t even tell the typewriter is Chinese.

        • bendiskurso says:

          Bert, let me try to explain it as simply as I can:

          What I have in mind is actually a bipartisan unicameral parliamentary system. You have a parliament with 2 dominant parties on opposite sides of an issue – “Should government be interfering more with the lives of citizens? Or should it meddle less and just sit back and focus on balancing society’s interests?” In the spirit of citing an example, say 2 parties – liberal(meddle more) and conservative(meddle less)

          Now each member of parliament gets voted locally. I don’t know what the correct numbers here would be, but let’s say we have a ratio of 150k voters to one MP. A voter from a group of 150k could only vote liberal or conservative, and the party with the most number of MPs is the ruling party. The ruling party then chooses from among its rank and elects a Prime Minister, who will have the option to form his Cabinet and would exercise executive power.

          Meanwhile, because an MP from any party values his measly 150k votes to stay in power, he has to regularly consult his constituents on matters of national policy. Assume then that all MPs would consult his constituents in the same manner and with the same frequency.

          Now let’s fast forward to a situation where say, the PM and Cabinet just couldn’t hack it. Voters then make it known to their MP that they want change. MP has to weigh this because once a vote of no-confidence(on the Prime Minister) has been called, he has to vote on retention or ouster. Here any wrong decision on the part of Parliament will have dire consequences because on the next election, all groups of 150k voters could ultimately decide whether their MP should be coming from the liberals or from the conservatives.

          Now let’s say the PM is running things well, but here comes MP from voter group 1 openly challenging and being obstructionist to sound policies. In short MP1 is being obnoxious and beginning to outlive his usefulness. In such as system, Voter Group 1 if they choose to do so, could initiate a “recall” of MP1. In other words at any time, the MPs could be replaced individually.

          There is the risk of perpetuating a bad leader’s term, yes. But there is a similar risk of shortening a good leader’s tenure as well. All depends on how voters decide.

          Ultimately the question is in the quality of voters and of candidates. But that is precisely what makes this setup simple – it assumes that voters have accepted that they can make mistakes with their choices, and consequently empowers them to react promptly, without the need to wait for 3 years, 6 years, a divisive impeachment process that may bear no fruit or a coup that ultimately subverts any constitution.

          My point is that if we truly believe that we have simpletons for voters, then perhaps we should seriously look at a system that is easier to understand and easier to influence. I am not sure we have that in the present presidential system, where the presidency is a power structure; the judiciary is yet another; the legislative are 2 others with 2 houses; and in the present day, even the OVP is a power structure in itself now. (contrasting Doy Laurel and Noli de Castro against Binay, who seems to be quite adept at gaming the current political system)

          Nothing worst than to expect the no-read, no-write man on the street to recite Shakespeare and expect him to understand what it all means.

        • josephivo says:

          All systems discussed are a few hundreds of years old, before the railroads, before effective mail systems or telegraph. Very few voters, only educated white man. Few areas of debate, a simpler society, a simpler world. The church as unifier in thoughts, the rulers anointed by the divine. Today many more control rooms exist than just the national one: international regulators, financial board rooms, private research center, crazy mullahs… you name them.

          Now with the post-internet era approaching we might have to think a new political systems. So many issues have repercussions on the citizens, scientific, ethical, economic, cultural…. the complexity endless, and one can be on different sides of the divide for each concern, so why group in parties?

          What about direct representation? Just randomly select 500 citizens with minimal restriction, put them in parliament after a few weeks of training, refresh a quarter every year. Surround parliament with expert civil servants and lobbyists. Wouldn’t such a parliament represent us better?

        • karl garcia says:

          Your keyboard has been fixed for a long time Bert, believe me . Commenting with you for more than half a decade can tell me that.
          I am just waiting for the time that the Philippines would produce whole finish products of computers,cars,etc.But before a manufacturing resurrection can happen, we could start by making our own keyboards.I need to replace my chinese keyboard myself.

          • Bert says:

            Ah, yes, karl, those were the days, with kg and other exotic names I recall, and fun, too. But here in Joe’s blog it’s more fun and more exciting, some if not most to your credit, the denizens here I think incomparably superior in terms of everything that a blogger could wish for, and the host, yes the host, how can can I describe him?….Delightfully indescribable!

            As to the Chinese keyboard? Just a very convenient whipping boy for inefficiency, at times for ignorance, example mk03.

            • karl garcia says:

              mlq3 and filipinovoices indeed were the days.

              Yeah Bert, I cursed the chinese keyboards myself manytimes, ikaw kasi isang mali lang damn keyboard ka agad, ako deadma lang pag mali ako, ngayon medyo conscious na din.

              The commenters here never cease to amaze, I even look like a fanboy sometimes.

              About the satire, pare di natin kaya si MRP, he is the master,but you have your own weapons like your gillette blade,scalpel,and the rest of the arsenal.

              Lastly voice of reason comes to mind, when it comes to describe our host.

  14. edgar lores says:

    1. Excellently argued piece.

    2. Having lived under a presidential system and a parliamentary system of a democratic form of government, I would say, firstly, that the democratic form is paramount. It ensures the smooth transition of power.

    3. Secondly, I would say that it is not the system – presidential or parliamentary — that matters but the quality of the elected representatives in general and the quality of the leaders in particular.

    4. As to term limits, I take the long view. A term should be short enough to be able to replace an incompetent leader and sufficiently long enough to enable the envisioning and the implementation of long-term government programs.

    4.1. To this end, I am in favour of a maximum of two terms under a presidential system. One term should be 4 years.

    4.2. Under a parliamentary system, there may or may not be a term limit for a Prime Minister. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Good leaders (and good parties) may not serve long enough because of popular misjudgement of their capabilities. And bad leaders (and bad parties) may serve for many years far beyond their level of competency simply because, say as incumbents, they have seized effective control of the reins of power.

    5. Should a parliamentary system be instituted, I would be in favour of a bicameral, and not a unicameral, legislature. A unicameral body may be efficient, but a bicameral body ensures more refined legislation, in theory at least.

    5.1. Representation in the Lower House would be geographical by district, and that of the Senate would be geographical by a larger grouping, at a regional or federal level.

    6. My only caveat on federalism is that each subdivision (or state) must have economic viability.

    7. The priority before a change in the system of government, before a change in term limits, and before contemplation of federalism would be the passage of an Anti-Dynasty law.

    • edgar lores says:


      3.1. To ensure a standard of quality, candidates for national office must be have a bachelor or master’s degree in Public Administration.

      3.2. A degree in culinary arts would be beneficial but is not a prerequisite.

      • sonny says:

        I need to ask this, (manong?/ading?) Lores. Have you trained and used “structured analysis” by Tom deMarco? How about “database organization” topics by Chris J Date? I hope you say yes to both.

        • edgar lores says:

          It’s Manong Ed to you.

          I am not a graduate of Computer Science and do not recognize those names as I have not done too much technical reading (I was more interested in fiction), but I have used structured analysis and am familiar with different database organizations. The firms I worked with had their own versions of structured analysis methodology and used deconstructed templates for various phases of system development. The databases I was most familiar with were HP’s Image, IBM’s DB2 as implemented on the AS400, and some of Oracle’s RDBMS.

          • sonny says:

            Dios ti agngina, manong Ed. Reason I ask is to ask how can we apply systems methods to help this morass our politics and culture is in. (I don’t have a CompSc deg I programmed in a PL1 IMS DBDC environment). What channel of action can we create? Is this cyber activity the extent of it? Can we be part of the critical path of some reform?

            • edgar lores says:

              1. Good question.

              2. There are general things we can do and specific things we can do.

              3. In general, I think using our analytical abilities comes to mind foremost. We have the advantage of being exposed to other cultures so we can compare and analyze.

              4. In general too, I think we have great intuition for what is true… and bullshit detectors. I believe I am freer from traditional Philippine culture than you are, and have a more non-conventional outlook.

              5. As to specifics, particular courses of action, particular recommendations on structure and whatnot… this is hard. Joseph is good at this.

              6. I am not too sure that I would want to be part of a collective reform movement. I am too individualistic for that. I am for changing society by changing the individual… and mostly by changing modes of thinking and raising consciousness.

              7. What about you? What are your ideas?

              • sonny says:

                As they come in no order.

                6. I read thresholds and diversity at the action level. Your comfort level is at the individual, yet you recognize a social part of you that mainly communicates. The self-autonomy cannot be sacrificed. I think most of us have this duality and can be addressed as a spectrum of proportions. Physical (hardware) vs Logical (software) for analytical purposes. I tend more to a socialistic threshold.

                3 & 4. Absolutely. I think this is why there is much resonance inside Joe’s Society.

                5. Agree definitely.

                7. I just watched the coming out party of how the Higgs Boson was pursued after being predicted mathematically. This kind of things attract me for the continuity it presents in the way we think of the material and spiritual world. The goal is for objective knowledge for its own sake. The process appeals to me even if I have the barest of knowledge and rigor of Physics and Cosmology. The Metaphysical implications are also gratifying.

              • sonny says:


                7.a I try to follow this blog installment by Ben using the socio-political-economic labs of my La Union municipality & the Ilocos region and Quezon City, simpler the former and complex the latter. My town has real life components of what we are talking about. There is a dynasty, petty baronship, wannabe goons, undertapped economic potential, the Catholic Church, unpolarized citizenry and whatever else fits a 3rd class municipality. My analysis is work-in-progress still. The only thing I can say so far is that I favor keeping the statusquo as far as a national political grid is concerned.

              • sonny says:


                I am still waiting for a discussion on subsidiarity at all levels of government as the Society understands it. I understand the basics as the Catholic Church practices it.

    • Bert says:

      Re: your No. 7, Edgar, good point, but…:

      1. Passage of an Anti-Dynasty Law will take forever.

      2. Change in the system of government, or change in term limits, and/or any contemplation of Federalism, will remain just a pipe dream.

      3. Switching to a Parliamentary form of government will never happen in Mr. Bendiscurso’s life time.

      4. Or in my life time.

      5. Or yours.

      6. Since Binay can rule perpetually as Prime Minister, I think that’s good.

      • edgar lores says:

        “Lifetime” is a matter of definition.

        If one assumes that rebirth or reincarnation is a reality, then there are many “sub-lives” in a lifetime.

        From a subjective viewpoint, and reviewing the state of enlightenment I have attained, I would judge that my present reincarnation level is at Version 5.17.

        Assuming the life expectancy of one sub-life is an average of 70 years, I project that I will see some of these changes when I reach Version 8.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Bert: You are correct on # 3. Unless I somehow discover the elixir of life or find an amulet to turn back the clock. I am not old and bent yet, but not too young either.

        On Binay ruling perpetually, well, that’s a stretch too. Assuming even that he’s not corrupt as he claims he’s not, the way he doles out benefits in Makati is expectedly the same way he will dole out benefits across the country. From a financial perspective, it will not take long before the country is bankrupt.

        I won’t question his integrity much less attack it, but I do have reservations about his financial prudence.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Thanks Ed. I was going to write about taxes or girls. But JoeAm made me see the light on this one.

  15. Bert says:

    “3.2. A degree in culinary arts would be beneficial but is not a prerequisite.
    ***** “—Edgar


    Then Nancy can’t have her cake and eat it too.

  16. Jose Guevarra says:

    The election of Senators on a national level serves as the check-and-balance mechanism between more and less populated regions of the country. Given the fact that there is supposed to be propotional representation in the House (via the congressional districts), there are by mere plurality more representatives coming from the less populated districts. There are also congressional districts that do not quite meet but are close enough to the 1-representative-for-every-250,000-voters requirement, but are still allowed to send one representative to the House anyway. Compare that to cities like Manila, for example, which has not seen an increase in its number of congressional districts since the current Constitution was ratified in 1987. Thus, less populated congressional districts tend to be favored (albeit slightly) in terms of representation in the House. The national basis for the election of Senators in our country gives the vast majority of voters a greater voice in determining the winners, particularly in the top 8 of the 12 who get elected each time. Those who get elected as numbers 9 through12, on the other hand, will have to rely on garnering a decent number of votes both in densely and sparsely populated regions of the country, which brings us back to the balancing act between districts. Metropolitan areas like Manila, Cebu, and Davao tend to dictate the top 8 senators, but the rest of the country chooses the last four.

    It is this balancing act between differently populated regions that we will most likely lose if we shift to a parliament. We will lose the Senators, the more densely populated areas will have absolutely no way to balance whatever the smaller districts do (so Manila, Cebu, and Davao will have to contend with the Enriles being sent all the time by the people of Cagayan or the Remullas of Cavite or the Marcoses of Ilocos, no matter the extent of the urban areas’ dislike for these personalities).

    • …. and as GMA and her legal advisers did aided by the subservient congress, to divide an existing province to accommodate the candidacy of her son; to create more party lists to accommodate another son and half-sister? and various relatives of her political supporters …it’s a good thing Jack Enrile failed in his senatorial bid despite his dad’s daunted political machinery and wealth..but you are right, it’s possible he will be resurrected as a congressman courtesy of the people of Cagayan, the way GMA having been rammed down our throats by the people of a certain district in Pampanga…btw, is she still not yet suspended, is she still drawing salary and substantial discretionary allowances from congress courtesy of the taxpayers’ hard earned money?.. the 90 days suspension of the 3 detained senators are over, does that mean they are now entitled to these compensations?

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Remember how Miguel Zubiri supposedly got the 12th spot back in 2007, thanks to Maguindanao delivering a 12-0 vote in favor of all of GMA’s candidates?

  17. Karl garcia says:

    Can you comment on Ed’s Oz experience. Parliamentary/federal. And his personality can’ t be divorced from political structure? Thanks.

  18. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    No matter what form of government the Philippines will have, if Filipinos do not and cannot change, it will still forever be the Philippines as it was in the beginning and forever will be.

    Filipinos can become good citizens abroad may it be in communist, parliamentary, democratic, Muslim, protestant and secular countries.

    Filipinos wanted to be run by foreigners than by Filipinos like hell.

    That is why I always have recommended the government be outsourced to foreigners with enhanced law enforcement.

  19. If I may relate my experience as a Programmer.

    In all the projects that I’ve done the methodology is always secondary to the quality of the people. Like a chain with a weak link, the capability of the team is almost always limited by its weakest member. Weak can be in the form of least effective, least skilled, least driven, etc.

    It’s about the people as long as the good people are not running or are not elected then parliamentary or presidential doesn’t matter. IMHO.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I find Benigno Aquino an effective President compared with the rest we have had, we have come down to where we are now because “what good is a good president if the rest are not good”. Example: Mamasapano, Chinese Tourist rescue, Senate investigation, tabloid journalists, etcetera. It is worthy of comedy central.

      What keeps me scratching my head is Filipinos became good citizens abroad regardless of religion of host country and their form of government. Just do not put the Filipinos together in one community fireworks likely erupt. Example: Very few Filipino clubs and organization LAST OVER A YEAR very few they come and go and disappear.

      • mercedes santos says:

        Are Filipinos feudal by nature ???

        • mercedes santos says:

          I notice that; on FB alone, I see groups of “birds of the same feathers’ with short shelf-lives.

          • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

            Filipinos are physically and intellectually territorial. Despite they are logically and rationally proven wrong, they stick to their guns no matter what. Eventually they come down to name callings and put downs.

            • mercedes santos says:

              Hopefully, you are not saying that we are innately neurologically narrow-minded
              creatures ?? N. Rosca would have a fit !!!!

              • Joe America says:

                Careful, tread delicately MRP, mercedes’ next stage is Pinitubo . . . 🙂

              • mercedes santos says:

                Mariano needs not fear; I enjoy listening to what he says. He seems to be forthright and
                insightful (inciteful ?) and sees no reason to sugarcoat his musings, brave soul !!!

      • On the first one I pray that the President starts a transformation of what we ask for in public servants. As joeam pointed the likes of Angara/Poe makes the future not that bleak. We just have to keep vigilant.

        On the second point, One of the first things one observes as a Filipino child is the way we are taught how to be wais/street smart and one of the consequences of this is we believe that rules can be bent and broken, it depends on who you know. In a foreign land we either do not know the people we should or the rules are enforced and we get the sense that the rules cannot or will not be bent or broken.

        In short if we become unbending in our application of laws and minimize or end the back channels of power utilized by Kamaganak/Kaibigan/Kaklase/Kanegosyo etc I think we as a people are too adaptable to not toe the straight and narrow.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          In addition to Ben Diskurso’s forms of government to explore, shouldn’t we also explore to create an inclusive government or a coalition government to include those that lost the election will have a say in the government?

          • Joe America says:

            That is very innovative. There would have to be a qualification mechanism to vet the candidates, but, indeed, it would bring the nation together, assuming the crowd could work together. Like a steering committee or advisory committee, but with specific powers. Does any nation do that? I’m not up on overseas governments.

          • I share the sentiment but as GMA and Binay showed us, crappy minority party leaders just undermine the majority party/leader in power. It is as if gaining power is more important than the beterment of ones’ country.

        • bendiskurso says:

          Gulp! I view your comments in light of a complicated ERP software like SAP.

          Where the way SAP is built would give Filipinos that extra push to stay on the straight and narrow, it still does boil down to quality and commitment of the users. I am seeing this at the office that is why I gulped.

          The checks and balances in a presidential system would draw some parallels with the checks built into SAP. On the other end, I tend to find that software like Quickbooks, while it does not really compare apples to apples with an ERP, is still designed towards some level of accountability and control, albeit in a simpler and arguably more primitive way.

          I just have this notion that it is precisely because of the quality of our people, of our voters, and even our best and brightest that perhaps a parliamentary system , much like Quickbooks or peachtree , is simpler to implement. Filipinos love taking shortcuts. We all know this.

          In the case of the Philippines, one can only hope that by jumping straight into an ERP system such a presidential system, that those trying to make it work would not lose hope and give up on automation altogether.

          It is no different from asking no read, no write voters to shade so many circles on an election ballot and then askin them to transmit the same into a PCOS machine, where you have to wonder if it would be simpler to have a biometrics touchscreen system that would allow them to press on the pretty mugs of their preferred election candidates. You do not necessarily improve the quality of the selections, but you would make the voting experience a lot more painless, efficient.

          I tend to think not in terms of which is the better system but rather in terms of which is the better fit and which is more empowering, which probably takes in some of Mariano Renato Pacifico’s suggestion of greater inclusiveness.

    • sonny says:

      gianCA, there is much in IT discipline that is so applicable to Public Administration. For one, a computerized administration is preventive of malfeasance because of the more obvious audit trail it is capable of creating and storing. Also clear record-keeping and documentation and the quick turnaround inherent in computer systems. These are all related to the decision and operations capability of a healthy Public Admin. Security systems can help in the area of need-to-know access and modification functions essential to both efficiency and continuity from admin to admin.

      So yes, I totally agree with manong Ed about BA or MA in Public Admin. I am assuming that a standard PAdmin has an adequate training in Systems methodology.

      • karl garcia says:

        How many degrees have you? (rhetorical) (amazement shown not envy,not crabby)

      • sonny says:

        🙂 Karl, you compliment me for asking the question. Thanks. Suffice to say I have one BA, and a lively combination of OJTs and basic training in Theology, Science, Math and IT. (Idon’t know if 2 yrs Latin counts, ha ha). At some point one has to ask what is the point of it all. For now the insights of people here in the Society is an integrating experience. No answer to the question of the point of it all. Your a good part of this experience. (T B cont’d)

        • karl garcia says:

          jack of all trades master of plenty.
          edgar too learned software engineering,systems analysis,rdbms,pert cpm by reading fiction and not technical books. amazing. hands on office experience suffices for him.

        • Joe America says:

          I once had a really bright professor in journalism who looked a lot like a truck driver. His belly was too big and his tie too small as he strode around the room scratching his chin, pondering, pondering, pondering. Then he would utter these very shocking wisdoms, so out of sync with everything. One was that we have education completely backward. We start as generalists and work to narrow our focus with each iteration deeper into knowledge. He argued that we should start narrow and broaden our knowledge, ever consuming more. Congratulations on living his principle. Dr. Ed Borgers, University of Southern California, was the professor’s name. I imagine he has passed, but not his lessons . . .

          • sonny says:

            Joe, many of us stumble coming from seemingly unrelated disciplines. This process of percolation will not end anytime soon, I believe. It is like looking for the number hidden in a visual acuity test. My own impeller is starting my tertiary education in Liberal Arts wanting to be a Renaissance man, then chemist, then finally coming to rest in IT and the world of Amdahl and Cray. Or something like it.

          • sonny says:

            Now I see the wisdom of Dr. Borgers’ observation. My own odyssey starts as a generalist and then successively as specialist in Chem and later on, IT.

        • sonny says:

          I’m gratified to see that Ben is explaining the logical connection between software such as SAP products and their applicability to making governance easily point to technological information environments. I belong to an older (IMS, DB2, IDMS, Oracle, et al.) generation of IT professionals. Ben and yourself are the young lions of IT. I wish more power to your generation as the new generation of IT pros. 🙂

          • bendiskurso says:

            Thanks Sonny. SAP is such a relevant topic for me these days. (sigh)

            I would have to say though that I am not exactly a young lion anymore. Actually old enough to be a Rotarian. hehehe

          • karl garcia says:

            I was an IT guy before, but on the low end of the food chain. dealing with end user support,system backups,etc. and giving coffee to my boss…
            . end user support includes switching on what was accidentally/unknowingly turned off…you know the feeling.

  20. bendiskurso says:

    Might be easier to wring the truth out of Rosemarie Sonora

  21. edgar lores says:

    Thank you, Ben, and thank you, Karl.

    I am starting a new thread but this is in reply to your post in my post under Yvonne’s first post. I have some corrections, expansions and questions.

    1. On the Oz Federal election, I had the successor of Kevin Rudd in mind, the redoubtable Julia Gillard.

    1.1. Contrary to your assertion, Rudd was not “promptly kicked out of office bec Australians had a legally acceptable recourse…” Rudd led the Labor Party to victory in 2007 but was deposed by Gillard in an extraordinary and almost extra-constitutional event before the formal expiry of his time in office.

    1.2. He was deposed because his party mates feared loss at the next election, and not because of the sin of squandering “what was an insurmountable budget surplus and turned it into a huge deficit.” The “sin of squandering” as you put it is a viewpoint of the opposition. The alternate view — which many, including myself, subscribe to — is that Rudd fiscally stimulated the economy and saved Oz from the global recession that was brought about in other countries by the Great Financial Crisis (GFC).

    1.3. Ms. Gillard went on to win the next election by a toenail and managed to form government by an alliance with some independent MPs. She failed to win a second term.

    2. On the State election that I cited, here is quote from an article published today to support my contention that it was the personality (or style) of the fallen Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, that caused a change in government:

    “Ironically, revelations of his (referring to Newman) closed-door outbursts come as an internal LNP investigation into the poll drubbing show it was his record and style – more than any other issue, including asset sales – that turned voters against the party.” My emphasis.


    2.1. Note further that the news article tacitly expresses the view that it was the personality of the leader – the “presidential tenor” that I spoke of – that brought down the government.

    3. You make the claim that Australia has the mechanism of electoral recall in place. Pardon my ignorance, but I was not aware of this feature, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    3.1. IMPORTANT: Note that this mechanism is not only available in parliamentary systems but can be applied in presidential systems.

    3.2. I have been here in Oz for more than 20 years and I have not heard of a Member of Parliament (MP) being recalled. I believe the reason is due to the fact that this feature is NOT in place, either at the federal level or the state level.

    3.3. I will now refer to this article, “The Recall of Members of Parliament and Citizens’ Initiated Elections”, by Anne Twomey published in 2011.


    3.3.1. I was quite surprised to learn that the idea of recall goes far back as 1912 in Australia. In the article, Ms. Twomey reviews the history of the idea in several countries. I will excerpt the experience in 5 countries:

    o Australia – Recall was removed from the federal Labor Party platform in 1963. It has been considered by the NSW state government in 2009 for referenda in 2015.

    o UK – There’s a pending “Recall of MPs Bill 2014-15”, but it has not been passed yet.

    o US – Nineteen states permit recall. A number of other states apply it only to the county and municipal level. About 2,000 county and municipal officials have been recalled. Only two state governors have been recalled and a modest number of members of state legislatures.

    o Canada – Recall was briefly introduced in Alberta in 1936, but repealed a year later. In 1995, recall was implemented in British Columbia. At least 20 recall petitions have been issued but none has been successful.

    o Switzerland – Not recall but citizens’ initiated elections have been in place for some time (since 1800’s) but has not been utilized. Individual recall always failed in the popular vote and the instrument no longer exists in practice.

    3.3.2. The arguments against recall are numerous, chief among which are detailed below. Note that these arguments do not touch on the rationale for recall, which by itself is of great importance and would take time and space to fully consider.

    o It leaves MPs “vulnerable to destructive harassment by outside pressure groups, extremist forces and opposing political parties.”

    o Recall is a weapon that could be used unfairly “at a time of political passion to tear down a man who held honest views on a subject which, on later investigation, might be proved right, but it would then be too late to correct the error.”

    o MPs “elected by a small majority would be at the mercy of rich men and rich organizations.” Conversely, MPs in “safe seats, regardless of whether they were lazy, unethical or unwise in their behaviour, would be largely invulnerable.”

    o The absence of an” appropriate body to determine whether an MP has engaged in serious wrongdoing.”

    o MPs would be pressured “to vote only in favour of populist measures and reject measures that are necessary for the well-being of the State, but not popular within their electorates.”

    o MPs would be likely “to raise parochial interests above the interests of the State as a whole, with “not in my backyard” being the prime consideration.”

    o In the US, recall has been used “by political parties to attack and replace members of their own party who have defected to another party or voted with another party on a major issue. It can therefore be used as a weapon to increase party control over members.”

    o Recall petitions can “also be used as a political tactic to tie up the time and finances of members to prevent them from concentrating on other duties and to deplete their campaign resources prior to the next election.”

    o Recall petitions can “also be a very effective way of publishing unfounded allegations and smears against an MP.”

    o The cost of additional elections.

    4. Finally, given the political culture of the country, would it be wise to implement the recall feature?

    o In a country where votes can be bought for a t-shirt, a packet of noodles and a can of sardines?
    o In a country where one can get killed for supporting a candidate?
    o In a country where you stake your life and those of your family for simply raising your hand to run for office?
    o In a country where elected officials have the temerity to browbeat ordinary citizens?
    o In a country where elected officials run to the Supreme Court to request for a TRO against any legal move made against them?
    o In a country where it is likely that an elected official will have served out his term before the recall petition against him prospers?

    • karl garcia says:

      I should thank you and Ben, for obliging.

    • bendiskurso says:

      Thanks Ed for the update on Australia’s system. I must still be living in 1912. 🙂

      I will attempt to give you a shorter answer as you might have observed I have been responding to comments for the last 20 hours or so. I was hoping to write a second blog post on taxes and how they could be used to dismantle political dynasties, but going into these details there is just way too much material to cover.

      Let me skip all the way down to your questions at the last part of this thread. I mentioned Italy and India to underscore how they have struggled with their parliamentary systems. I will daresay at this point that it is quite likely that we too would struggle if we adopted a parliamentary system. But the fact is, we are struggling now with our presidential one.

      You can’t help but get down to the root cause – the quality of voters. Giancarlo said it, and we could keep running around in circles with it and still end up with agreement on voter quality but the problem staring us in the face remains.

      We are a democracy and like it or not, leaders are chosen based on whether voters are smart or stupid. We also happen to be a third world country, with 3rd world ideas and 3rd world types of people(those who sell their votes for instant noodles). Our education used to be the best in Asia but now keeps slipping further down. We are regressing.

      But we also have the smartest of people, that would probably include you and I. hehehe Unfortunately our numbers are too few in this democracy. You go to the Yahoo forum and you get 97 out of 100 trolls. JoeAm has done an impeccable job of insulating us all, but the reality is out there.

      Your questions are difficult to answer because any answer would be too simplistic. The question is not how to make anything work when voters are predominantly stupid or ignorant. It is not a question of how we could insulate any system of government from them.

      In my mind it is a question of how to get them to catch up with the rest of us. The poor are stupid simply because they are poor. Some may be lazy yes but first and foremost they are poor. They do not know any better.

      “They do not know any better” I repeat because ultimately we ask ourselves how we could address this – do we use a complicated multi-power structured presidential system to keep them completely flustered about how government works? Or do we empower them, let them make their mistakes with their concept of government, and hope that with education, they eventually learn that fire burns and water cools?

      Erap’s ouster is such an example. Impeachment failed. People Power 2 succeeded. But he’s still very much relevant today. More than GMA or FVR or Cory. Why? I believe Erap is the poor voter’s version of blue balls.

      I am not sure how else I can explain it. But suffice to say that we will need more mature citizens than immature ones. And if we assume to treat less educated people like children, they will remain to behave like children. The more complex presidential system does precisely just that IMHO.

      You are all free to tell me I am wrong.

      • karl garcia says:

        Hey, no right or wrong answers. 🙂

      • edgar lores says:



        Three things first.

        1. The idea of electoral recall is not part and parcel of parliamentary systems. It can be applied to presidential systems.

        2. A consideration of a parliamentary system for the country is worthy for many reasons other than electoral recall, such as mainly the formation of mature political parties that have detailed platforms because they are ideologically driven.

        3. I still maintain that the political system, whether parliamentary or presidential, does not matter so much as the quality of the leaders.

        Now. We seem to have moved to the proposition that the low quality of our leaders is due to the low quality of voters. This is partly true. If the quality of available leaders is low, nothing will improve selection.

        This is why I proposed that candidates for national office be required to have a modicum of relevant education. If we cannot improve the quality of the voters, we must improve the quality of available leaders. If we cannot empower the voters, we must empower the candidates.

        Consider: we require the Judiciary to be staffed with professionals. So why not the Executive and the Legislature?

        This is a simple step, a simple requirement. The current crop of legislators, and perhaps the next generation or two, can undergo and receive formal education as in-job training. However, new candidates starting from the third generation onward must have a university degree in Public Administration.

        This is just one idea, I cannot see any downsides to it. Joseph, as usual with his lateral thinking, has another.

        • bendiskurso says:

          All 3 points taken, Ed. Thanks.

          As for the minimum requirements for the executive and legislative positions, that in itself is simple enough a solution.

          Just have to wonder…why it has not been done up to now? No disrespect, but surely someone else has thought of it before?

          Probable answer is a Congress that should be making the laws to require these minimum qualifications is itself power-hungry and refuses to put themselves up against that standard.

          While we would probably go back to a discussion of how to spur congressional integrity, I would probably end up saying that if they want power that desperately, that we give it to them so they could all choke on it. 🙂

      • RHiro says:

        Parliamentary system of representative government came about as a result of the abuses of an arbitrary sovereign. His absolute power was diffused to other landholding Lords. This combined with the Reformation led to the age of rational thought and science. After the Glorious Revolution in England the King could not rule without the permission of parliament.

        Adam Smith saw the changing ways of creating wealth by pointing out that owning land and extracting of precious metals were an archaic way of creating wealth. Manufacturing and trade were a much more sustainable way of creating wealth. Unleashing human greed would be the invisible hand that would redound to the good of society. He propounded also that this must be done by rules to prevent monopolies.

        This important change propelled the West to unprecedented heights of economic development and created new classes in these societies. Capitalism was born…vassals and serfs became the laboring classes needed by capitalists to work the manufactures. Hence capital needed to train the working class and governments established the public school system…

        That was the world in the 19th century.

        The advanced economies then competed amongst themselves for national advantage and the first age of imperialism was born. With their advanced productive technologies they went to war amongst themselves. Warfare became the incubator of more advanced technologies funded and promoted by States. It evolved from the military industrial complex to the educational military complex.

        The U.S. started to subsidize higher education in math and sciences after the Russians sent up Sputnik. Kennedy then promised to send men to the moon. That was Americas Sputnik moment. The next drive was Reagan’s Star Wars program where the thesis was winning a nuclear war.

        Most advances we enjoy today came from that historical period. The idea of laissez faire
        has always been a myth pushed by the power structure..

        We should institutionalize the parliamentary system since it matches the cultural structure here. We must heighten the contradiction to push change.

        • RHiro says:

          Mr. Diskurso, political parties arose from popular sentiment organizing themselves into mass movements and gaining political power to change or propose policy.

          Tangible issues that can unite the many to challenge the status quo. It is pure math. Number count…..

        • bendiskurso says:

          Give them power until they all choke on it. Like you said talk is cheap.

          Easier to criticize if one does not have to live up to the expectations that come with being both an executive and a legislative body.

  22. bendiskurso says:

    Thanks Joe Am! I think I was able to finally blow off some decades-old steam with this blog post alone.

    Now to blow off some steam from all that steam-blowing.

    Until next time. Maybe after Easter?

  23. R.Hiro says:

    Solita Monsod was the former head of NEDA under Aquino I. She describes our economy as a feudalized economy maintained by a corrupt and evil Congress. I suppose one would say she knows what she talks about as an economics professor from U.P.

    Mr. Diskurso, after Marcos who was the State and the State embodied in him since he was after all our first real sovereign with absolute power, how come nothing much has changed in the social structures in the country.

    Political parties do not have institutional representation here in the Philippines. Monsod contends that Congress maintains the feudal structures.

    Aquino II is a highborn illustrado who comes from that very feudal structure.

    The Politics of Command he demonstrated recently in Mindanao.

    His executive actions stand as Presidential policy. His wishing to entrust a critical mission to his closest adviser on such matters is truly in keeping with his mindset of only trusting personalities who are absolutely loyal to him…

    Marcos had that with Ver.

    Politics run on power relations and that power comes from wealth. The class structures under this feudalized economy would make it difficult to organize vassals under the various fiefdoms in the country. These social structures also exist within the entire state bureaucracy.

    Aquino II is proof positive of the feudal structures in place.

    • sonny says:

      R.Hiro, when crime & punishment is arbitrary, loyalty becomes imperative; even duly delegated authority has a Secret Service Agency. Praetorian guards have always existed.

      • Joe America says:

        You know, you are why (the current blog aside) I really like and respect the more long-lived amongst us. Such rich and wise perspectives.

      • RHiro says:

        Sonny your reply shows that the your subjective view is a far cry from a Constitutional Republican culture. The Philippines remains an accidental state with an ersatz system of constitutional government. Swearing loyalty to the constitution is merely a ritual without basis.

        • karl garcia says:

          vassal vs fidelity

          if i read it right no such thing as fidelity or semper fidelis as far as the marines is concerned
          the marines must change their motto quick
          never mind that is US marines and not the Philippine marines motto of honor, duty, valor.

          organizing vassals is hard if it means buying all the loyalty that money can buy, so limit it to a certain number,because it is economical that way.

          Just tell me if I am in another frequency Mr Hiro

          • R.Hiro says:

            KG, a paid force not enlightened will scatter when things get rough. The Romans learned that the hard way. The Philippine marines are the most effective fighting force together with the Army rangers. The U.S. planned it that way…

            Ferdinand I assembled a very effective Praetorian guard. Unfortunately his failing health gave way to a power vacuum that eventually led the his downfall aided by a monstrous economic crisis. His decrees are still on the law books. He also did not have a clue on the workings of political economy.

            It is not surprising that his monied backers then and the group that broke away from him still play a significant part in this country.

            I have a simplistic suggestion for Senator Trillanes or Senator Cayetano. Transfer residence to Makati and run for Mayor against the Binay dynasty.

            See if either can organize enough people in Makati who would like to see a better run city government.

            Talk is cheap. Both Senators have called out the entire Binay family and called them thieves.

            Run and translate that into political action. See if they can organize the numbers that will translate into direct political action via the ballot box.

            Makati could be the template for the entire country….

            Small steps that will lead somewhere to start to change the culture. A cultural revolution….

            Trying to effect a regime change without first enlightening the many is a long term proposition.

            Ideas are the most dangerous weapon vs good or evil.

            • karl garcia says:

              yeah, they should run in makati,but who wants to be the vice? you mean same positions? they got the organize the numbers part (un)solved.

              thanks again RHiro

  24. sonny says:

    I am hoping that this is one of the rooms in Joe’s Roman villa or the hook in an engaging human tale or the disarming arrowhead of a well-meaning arrow directed at bonds that stifle good.

  25. bendiskurso says:

    Interesting concept by Carmen pedrosa. Granted there are serious questions on its mechanics, but I would welcome a pilot on taxation laws as a worthy item to start with.

    • karl garcia says:

      Crowd sourcing. Maybe commenters from all over can contribute to such a project.maybe this is what i was thinking about when rambled about profound change,change agents,whatnot.

    • Joe America says:

      I look at crowdsourcing as a massive exercise in brainstorming. It can never be representative of the nation, but it can put together thousands of brains working together on one problem. I would think a formal crowdsourcing exercise on taxing laws could be very instructive. The steps to undertaking it would have to be well-thought out. Step one, recruiting the players, hopefully many from the legal and taxpaying communities. Step 2, a general brain dump. Step 3, sifting through the brain dump for nuggets. etc etc

      • RHiro says:

        Governments role is to administer and manage the affairs of human society. Simple question:

        No one has defined the objective reality that most can agree on on the stage of Philippine societal development.

        Some quarters contend that the Philippines remains to be a neo-feudal/neo-colonial society…..

        Spain really did a number on the natives of these islands. The British and Dutch did not tamper with cultural colonization….

        Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, S.Korea did not go through cultural colonization. The Japanese for the most part never even bothered to learn how to speak and write English and today if they wanted to could build a nuclear weapon within months.

        By stroke a luck the American carrier battle groups were not in port on December 7, 1947.

        The Western economies which are still described as highly industrial economies are in a period of painful adjustment moving into the post industrial stage of economic development. How their societies will evolve in this stage of rapid technological change
        will naturally affect the rest of the planet.

        One thing is clear is that the role of the government will become crucial just like the shift from agricultural based development to industrial development.

        The Western governments were forced to act to prevent a revolution from below in the 1930’s.

        They will be forced to act again to bridge the gap in the West from the huge inequalities in their societies.

        At least they recognize their realities. here no such luck when most people are confused and lost..

        • Joe America says:

          I don’t think government leaders here think in such visionary terms. Trees, trees, trees. And what’s in it for me. I occasionally ask for a great orator, but what I am really asking for is someone who can articulate a vision for the nation that would excite people. Some of your ideas could be in that orator’s speech.

        • sonny says:

          I think this is a quicksand conversation: the more of this talk, we sink like movements in quicksand.

          For one, the Philippines had no gold nor spices to speak off. She was just a dreary outpost who just happened to be in the way of great empires and now whose richness is only people!

          • RHiro says:

            Taiwan has twice the economy we have with a quarter of the population that we have. It has very limited factor endowments or resources and faces a major threat from the giant next door. Japan also has almost no resources.

            It is amazing that the Philippines is even still named after a notorious King of Spain who defaulted on his countries sovereign debt several times and was called by one writer as the borrower from hell….

            • Joe America says:

              That’s an interesting argument. A name is a name, and people can relate it to an old king, or the compilation of history that developed under that name. Which does the name represent today? The latter. And even if that history is one of occupation and turmoil, poverty and disarray, it is the life of the Philippines. Just as our lives are filled with incidents good and bad, the accumulation being rich no matter what. If our name is Joe or RHiro, it has little to do with the uncle we might have been named after, and a lot to do with our character today.

            • sonny says:

              I strongly suspect, (suspicion only) Taiwan’s economy is well stoked by the mainland. Getting dizzy as well, Karl.) 🙂

              As to the name Philippines (Felipinas), I am guessing that became so because Philip II decided to keep the archipelago inspite of the islands being a financial liability to the royal coffers. The haciendas being deserted by the “would-be” conquistadores and so in turn handing over the temporal and spiritual care to the missionary orders.

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