Quo Vadis Presdu30’s Philippines
By Andy Ibay
Caveat: More for info and less as warning, this piece and subsequent ones like all the others written either published or unpublished or posted here or elsewhere, are never current and original thoughts in any given moment. They are more like water in flowing rivers as water goes in circles in the hydrologic cycle of ideas, except those cited and acknowledged, accountably oxygen from my brain, all mine prayerfully and hopefully, not ACCIDENTALLY plagiarized.
It seems invisible what’s beyond the earth’s horizon. So also a country’s imminent future. On a raft in the rough open sea, one wonders why ships become small then disappear into a probable abyss. To the naked or bespectacled eyes, all ships must fall into an unseen void, vanish into an unknown, into disaster that’s less probable than a desirable destination. Scientists have measured and say it’s only 14 kilometers between you or Presdu30 and the horizon. After that, not so much is known. The President is every country’s ship captain, so Walt Whitman’s poem asserts, who holds the rudder and steers the ship of state as it bucks or rides the waves beyond the horizon.
It is a new game ball (joystick or cordless mouse) to learn and master the new ball game of building an e-nation from a c-nation named Philippines. So it is not much to grant Presdu30 an invictus chant:
“Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.”
Building a new nation may start from scratch but NEVER on a clean slate. It is polidiotic (my term for idiocy in politics) to believe otherwise. Pre-conditions abound to thwart many REM dreams or desired endings. To be world class is not peanuts or a walk with the dog to shit in the park. To be world class is to crawl inch by inch to the hill top. That’s after knowing where you are; if not you might just be crawling foot by foot round and round the foot of the hill.
I wish and hope to have time to write in subsequent pieces the pre-conditions and potential obstacles to crafting a new nation. Perhaps like thinking how to help the poor with the biggest Powerball cash prize, it is easy to design and blue print new structures and functions for an ideal governance. Albeit without wrestling with the mastery of starting points in the political, social (includes cultural), economic and administrative dimensions of national development. It’s been long known that these dimensions are so interlocked like a seamless web because all are both causes and effects, by one to all the others and in turn all the others to just one of the dimensions. Only a cave man’s country can achieved economic development (food for the day) without implicating all the rest of the dimensions.
Because a or the Constitution is the fundamental law, the actionable bible that compels obedience from the governed, changing it is a good starting point for the new Presdu30 administration who has promised draconian change.
To Use Not Of Others but my own words for a new 2016 or 2017 Philippine Constitution, three complicated things must happen. First, the Congress must pass the enabling law; second, delegates will determine and agree on its content; and third, qualified Filipino voters must ratify it.
In crafting the fundamental provisions for and in the interest of the present and FUTURE generations, it should be dominantly prospective rather than retrospective. It is RETROSPECTIVE only in the sense it respects history in the life of nations. Learn its lessons by not repeating them in terms of principles which had governed mistakes and problems that dictated unfortunate and tragic events in the past. It is PROSPECTIVE in the sense that it secures in the long term the stable and progressive future of the country and its people.
It is therefore best for the delegates to ensure that inimical factors and principles that influenced old provisions be stood down. For example, among the delegates, new expertise and young blood should have majority representation, rather than old ones. There should be less of law and more of common sense for the public interest. To avoid repetition and continuation of past mistakes and festering public issues, the issues to be eliminated must be listed and stricken down ONLY AFTER the prospective issues have been mapped, deliberated on and agreed upon.
In other more simple words, PROSPECTS must be tackled first and firmly decided on in order to have bases or premises to exclude aspects deemed problematic among past constitutions. Drafting or mind crafting a new constitution is not like prosecuting or defending a civil or whatever case; it is not like determining or writing a decision on appealed cases based on precedents, but represents the exigency of the present and the future. Delegates SHOULD NOT BE behaving like lawyers in a court room weighted down by RETROSPECTS. Delegates should behave more like positive planners than cautious sages and prudes.
Would it not be better for the delegates to decide first WHERE they want the country and the people TO GO before they spend time and saliva on HOW TO GET THERE? Will it not be useful to have a look at the top 20 countries in the UN human development index. And ask why the Philippines is ranked 115 (lowered by P Noy from 117)? How many of these top 20 countries practice the separate and equal tripartite powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches? HOW MANY? Not even two from the top ten countries, which readers can Google to verify. Take a look: 1) Norway, 2) Australia, 3)Switzerland, 4)Netherlands, 5)United States, 6) Germany, 7) New Zealand, 8) Canada, 9) Singapore , and 10) Denmark.
The UN HDI for 2014, among the ASEAN countries, had the Philippines at number 115, ranked deep down below Singapore 11, Brunei 31, Malaysia 62, Thailand 93 and closer to Indonesia at 110. Among the ASEAN countries, only the Philippines has separate and equal powers for three branches of government.
It is possible, even probable, that the majority of the top 20 countries for a few decades now have been practicing what may be called an E-Democracy type of governance. Not mainly culture and legalese-based but rather common sense where the Preamble and the Bill of rights form the country’s vision and become the foundation of all subsequent articles.
Do articles on the separate and equal powers of the executive, the legislative and executive branches emanate from and support the Preamble and the Bill of Rights? Was this really the vision of the Constitution? How to get there, to this vision, should make up the content of subsequent articles like CITIZENSHIP, ELECTIONS, or whatever. In framing or mind crafting a constitution, it might be better to ask university students and barangay chairmen to have a constitution that’s not to be mistaken and misunderstood than a constitution promulgated by lawyers, for lawyers and of lawyers.
There should be a paradigm shift in the drafting of a constitution. Where before a constitution was deemed the fundamental law, as the basis for all enacted laws, that may not hold true anymore for modern e-democracies. Because the classic legal paradigm assumes that law is the paramount discipline pulling others in various directions like medicine, economics. politics, etc., when the law in many cases should be set aside in cases of conflict with other disciplines that cater to the public interest and common weal.
What matters is not the design of separation and possession of equal powers but the character and conduct of rulers (read greedy elite). Any such design for three institutions entrusted into the hands of few rulers could be a convenient vehicle of division and equalization of spoils by the rulers. Five billion bucks loot for one becomes fifteen billion bucks of King Solomon’s mine.
Three hundred fifty years before the birth of Christ, Aristotle had advanced that the best design of a constitution is a “mixed system, including monarchic, aristocratic, and democratic elements.” Fast Forward to 2,049 years after the crucifixion of Christ, research can easily establish the best form of government –by its constitution—by looking closely at the UN top 20 countries listed in the human development index.
WHERE THEN WILL THE CONSTITUTION DELEGATES WANT TO GO? The VISION for the NEW 2016 CONSTITUTION shall provide paramount mandates for the following need of the Philippines’ future from date of ratification and beyond:
- A preamble for e-democracy
- Defining rights and responsibilities of citizens
- Parliamentary form of government; limit to three political parties
- Abolition of political dynasties
- Alliance with foreign countries
- Protection of the environment
- Conservation of natural resources
- Death penalty for plunder and other heinous crimes
- Divorce and abortion
- Taxes for the religious organizations
- e-based elections
It may be doubtful, but the United Kingdom, with a population of 65 million (240 persons per sq. km.), does not have a written constitution while the United States of America, with 324 million people (32 per sq. km.), has the shortest constitution. The Philippines, as the 12th largest in the world population-wise, has 111 million (3,333 per sq. km) . Because of massive hemorrhages and erosion mainly due to corruption in its social and political foundations during the last five decades, the Philippines really does need a new constitution to avert lingering and lurking civil strife.
The NEW 2017 CONSTITUTION is nothing but pieces of paper that will seek to discard the rotten past by explicitly saying “all provisions of past constitutions and all laws and decrees emanating there from which are inconsistent, contrary to, or irrelevant to the letter and spirit of this constitution are deemed null and void, and illegal. AND NOT stipulating the lazy legal bull s..t : ”all laws and presidential decrees not repealed or amended by this constitution are deemed in force and effect”.
Filipinos afloat in a banca (at home), or kayak or canoe (overseas), watching the Philippine ship disappear over the horizon, if they are able, should think of off-shore names like Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Il Duce and Clara Petacci, Robespierre and Marie Antoinette for their whatever in history. Paper Constitutions are not found or interred but names of leaders are, in the despised tombs of history.