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A proposal to address the political impasse
Who are we? And why are we speaking out now?
We are multi-sectoral, non-partisan movement whose focus is on process not personalities Many of us have not joined rallies. Some have. But all agree that: – We need to unite behind democratic processes – Solutions appear to serve personal or group interests, e.g. government machinery geared to propaganda of “people’s” initiative – Need to address growing alienation, even distrust, of democratic institutions and our leaders – The silent need to be informed, speak out and be part of solution
Is the 1987 Constitution the root of our problems?
Under the present constitution, Government has enough powers to: • Protect human rights • Stop corruption • Improve education systems • Improve health care system and reduce cost of medicine • Promote jobs and livelihood • Stabilize prices of basic goods • Promote peace and order nationwide • Modernize the electoral system
Is there a way thru the impasse? Let’s consider:
• • • A proposed 5-point process to address impasse Possible scenarios What we need to do to be part of the solution
We propose a 5-point process:
1. Discontinue the present “people’s initiative”; 2. A social reform program now; 3. Elections in 2007 as indirect referendum, and electoral reform now; 4. A Constitutional Convention after 2007 elections, if necessary; 5. A collective effort to rebuild the trustworthiness of democratic institutions.
First, discontinue the present Initiative.
• Legally flawed: divisive, questionable process • Fallacious and deceptive reasoning – No conclusive empirical evidence that parliamentary system is superior for political stability and economic growth – No factual basis to amend “economic” provisions; not a priority condition of foreign direct investments – While cha-cha has well-meaning advocates, in the context of concentration of political power today the implication of proposed shift to parliamentary, unicameral system is disturbing: it gives more power to those who already have it.
• Removes power of people to vote directly for president • Transitory provisions: – More powerful President: fused institutions; 2/3 to “impeach” – Powerful interim parliament of incumbents which can decide on 2007 elections and introduce more amendments, e.g. • Weaken supreme court as check against abuse of power: (i) remove power to determine factual basis martial law, (ii) increase from majority to 2/3 vote to declare EOs unconstitutional; (iii) remove power to determine “grave abuse of discretion”. • Restore power of president to declare martial law on “imminent danger of rebellion” (used by Marcos) • Extend its own life • Freedom of speech/press qualified: “responsible exercise” 7/12/2006 7
In short, chacha, represented as “more power to the people”, consolidates power in the center. (Note: Federalism, even assuming it is appropriate for the country, is not mentioned in draft “people’s” petition to the Comelec) More importantly, most people are not fully informed. The proponents’ agenda is slippery: it is contained in 3 documents – draft Petition, Recommendations of Consultative Commission, House Resolution - some provisions even inconsistent with one another IN SUM: Too many uncertainties and potential dangers are implied by the proposed changes. Yet there are real and urgent problems that confront our people on a daily basis.
Second, a social reform program now.
• Sharper focus on safety nets: e.g. food security, education, health care, water • Strict implementation of agrarian reform law • Sustained campaign against graft and corruption • Increased political representation of marginalized sectors Nothing in present constitution prevents actions being taken today on these concerns.
Third, the 2007 elections as an indirect referendum and electoral reform now.
• Both pro-GMA and anti-GMA miss the point of accountability system in the Constitution: final verdict is the people’s vote. • A credible 2007 elections can serve as indirect referendum on the term of the present administration, depending on who people vote for and how those elected choose to exercise their mandate. • Are our leaders willing to trust the people’s verdict, and its consequences to themselves, so we can move on?
The government has not yet delivered on promise to modernize the electoral system by 2004. A trustworthy electoral system should be a precondition to any major revisions in our political system. “Revamp” – key recommendation by the Presidential Adviser on Electoral Reform. As a minimum, there must at least 4 independent commissioners of unquestioned integrity and competence. Amendments to modernization law; plus other reforms
Fourth, if necessary, a constitutional convention after the 2007 elections.
• One Voice not against a review of the Constitution, or if necessary, charter change • But a drastic overhaul of political system needs a broad representation of society. Enabling law on selection of delegates critical. A con-ass of present Congress is suspect • It should be preceded by a massive public education campaign. The process cannot be rushed. • Any major change in political structure should not benefit those presently in power.
Fifth, a collective effort to rebuild trust in democratic institutions
• “Governance” - not only how president decides and how national resources are managed • Also our collective responsibility to solve our problems without bringing whole system down • Pre-occupation with fate of a person distracts us from urgent problems and long-term institution-building • Institutions are our lifeline to our future • Our democracy works even when not in its best behavior but must address urgent needs now to rebuild trust
What could happen?
Three possible scenarios, all of which assume: • Administration will push limits of options on cha-cha (people’s initiative, con-ass) to keep allies intact (JdV, FVR, LGUs, Congress). Also meant to audit political machinery, and/or to condition people to future cha-cha • Primary objective of PGMA is to finish term w/ social and economic legacy. Charter change is secondary legacy – not just tactic to stay in power • Consensus possible from all parties on electoral and social reforms
Scenario 1 – Supreme Court
allows “people’s” initiative or ConAss
• SC ruling (which overcomes issues of “no enabling law” and “revision”, and allows “joint” voting in con-ass) widely protested • Contentious plebiscite • No “closure” on political impasse Outcome – uncertainty, possible instability
Scenario 2: Supreme Court
strikes down PI and Con-Ass (likely). However …
Either i. 2007 elections not credible, i.e. process flawed and results not credible (instability) ii. 2007 elections credible: - GMA coalition wins, people accept, and “oust-GMA” movement limited to hard core opposition (stability likely) - opposition wins enough to impeach and convict (stability unless military/police interfere, which is unlikely)
Scenario 3: Supreme court
strikes down PI and Con-ass (likely). And …
• Both sides agree to: – Trust people’s judgment in 2007 as final verdict on political impasse (difficult but possible) – Cooperate on social reform program (possible) • Allow people to decide on a Concon after 2007 elections (difficult but possible) Outcome: stability • Unless, GMA forces attempt to manipulate Concon
How can we be part of the solution?
Immediate term: 1. Conduct grassroots education campaign on – Implications of the “people’s initiative” and of a rushed charter change. These are matters on which people must be allowed to freely and knowingly make decisions – heart of politics is justice. Urge people to speak out! – The importance of 2007 elections as indirect referendum 2. Citizen’s action for a credible and meaningful 2007 elections – Vote on issues, on track record of candidates – Prepare to safeguard the ballot again in 2007 3. Work with local/national government officials to prioritize social programs and electoral reform Longer term: Inform ourselves about the Constitution. Decide on the need for change and, if so, specific changes.
• Admittedly, many things must come together • But we have done the difficult before • Making the journey is half the battle won
Join us. Download our position paper and other references at www.onevoice.org.ph
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