October 15, 2006

The Editor THE BusinessWorld Quezon City Dear Mr. Editor: In positive response to the current political crisis and economic difficulties that our nation is facing, may we respectfully submit our advocacy paper CHILDREN’S CHILDREN ll Why are we trying to amend the Constitution? I view our attempt to amend our Constitution as the basic process by which we hope to prepare a better life for our children’s children. There was a stage show in Green Belt featuring the best of the Filipino thespian talents. It was produced by Repertory, the same group which trained Lea Salonga and company to star in the Miss Saigon series. The Leading lady, Ms Malou Lauchengco has the profile of Julia Roberts with a difference; she has a voice. The cast are very professional and the show is worth watching. In the Man of La Mancha, the theme is built around the song the “THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM.” Is planning a better life for our children’s children an impossible dream? Let’s dream first and see if it is really impossible to accomplish. Let’s try any way because at the end of our days we will not be judged by what we have won or lost, but what we tried to do. For isn’t “SERVICE TO HUMANITY…. THE BEST WORK OF LIFE?” If the intention of the amendments is purely political and short sighted, then we would be simply wasting the people’s limited resources in terms of TIME and the maximum use of the factors of production. By the year 2040, the Filipino population is projected to reach 140 million Filipinos. Can the amendments prepare the future generations for the bigger tasks they will face? We are currently producing around 5000 Filipino babies every day. Due to lack of jobs domestically, around 2,500 (+/-) Filipinos also leave every day in search for the income they need to ensure the survival and progress of their respective families. Is our role in the international community merely to become service providers of the world? Our OFW’s are producing the vital foreign exchange to ensure the
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economic survival of the country. Thus we pay less for the foreign debts we incur because of the daily sacrifices abroad of our OFW’s. Such foreign exchange earnings of our workers do carry a long term social costs with severe penalties as parents are separated from their young children who are deprived of the daily love and care that only natural parents can provide. The long term viable solution to reduce the future social costs of the future generation is to create enough domestic jobs that will somehow bring home our children. To do so, the proposed amendments must re-engineer our system so that our country can attract more investors to create jobs locally. Some investors has placed our country’s rank as an investment area even lower than Vietnam which is supposed to be more underdeveloped than us because of the lengthy civil war they had. The investors say that our country is not attractive as our regional competitors largely due to… POLITICAL INSTABILITY, PEACE AND ORDER PROBLEMS AND LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURES. While our neighbors progress, we have faltered. While our neighbor’s leaders try to find the solutions to their country’s problems, our political elite are engaged in infernal, fratricidal bickering. The political elite is less than 1% of the total population and when they catch a cold, the other 99% of the Filipino people suffers life threatening pneumonia. When the elephants play their political war games, the ants get stomped and squashed. Being jobless provides very few options. 8 millions plus of our people don’t want to catch pneumonia, or be stomped on and squashed, nor to do they want to commit violent crimes to feed their families, nor do they wish to go the mountains and fight the government, so they migrate to other countries in seeking for a better life. Some would even take life threatening risks in working in a country like Iraq where suicide bombing is an almost daily ritual because they could not find work locally. Some Filipinos will migrate for good abandoning the country of their birth; some migrate to earn and save the capital needed to go back home to their children so that they could be entrepreneurs and start their own business. Will the amendments proposed be bold and innovative enough to think beyond the lifetime of the authors? Will it place as a primary objective … bringing our children home for the long term interests of our children’s children? Will the amendments merely strengthen the status quo of a system which has placed a country so rich in natural and human resources lagging behind their neighbors who are less endowed and has very much less to offer? Will our children’s children honor our legacy or desecrate our memory for our shortsighted failure to think beyond our lifetime?
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A country’s survival and progress depends substantially on the leadership elite’s capability, expertise, strong political will in managing the twin forces of economics and politics. The pressure and stress of placing national interests above personal agenda will determine the greatness or mediocrity of the political elite governing a country and managing its limited resources. Politics: We have often blamed our politicians for the ills of the country. Is it the man or the System that is at fault? I personally believe on the basic goodness and patriotic objectives of the politician. Despite their obvious human short comings, we still need political leaders because they prepare the game plan, set the direction and are basically merchants of hope. They always promise to make the future brighter so the people can always hope that there is a better tomorrow. Our leaders are what the system made them to be. To survive as a politician, you must work within the system and basically follow what the system dictates. If the motivation of seeking political office is not the positive P’s (patriotism, professionalism) but rather the negative P’s (prestige, power, “pera”) then rules will be bent/misinterpreted to conform to the negative objectives. We are a supposedly a democracy wherein the rule of the majority supposedly must prevail. We have followed the system to the letter but somehow we don’t progress as much as those countries that modified the system to fit their culture and objectives. We must overhaul and re-engineer the system of selecting our leaders in terms of the qualifications not only of the leaders but also of the voters. Perhaps we should consider the draft of the 1st Constitution written in June, 1898 by the national hero Apolinario Mabini as a guide. The Sublime Paralytic expressed his admiration for the representatives of the people by writing that: par 27” : The office of the representative is the most honorable to which every Filipino can aspire because the functions thereof are august and of eminently patriotic character; Said office in itself constitutes an indelible stamp of honor for the one who deserves it through his honesty culture and industry; it is the most authentic title of personal dignity and patriotism”. He wrote in subsequent paragraphs that the voters must be first and foremost be taxpayers. Our Constitution should be amended to state that if the citizen do not register
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as a taxpayer or refuse to pay taxes, you don’t vote. To ensure that every citizen becomes a taxpayer, the amended Constitution should grant a tax credit of Php 10,000.00 to every citizen upon reaching the age of 18. The youth shall use this tax credit at the rate Php 2,000.00 per year for a period of five years for any tax liability he has with the government. At the end of five years, the citizen is on his own and must work to pay his share of taxes. For every citizen’s right is an equal if not greater civic and patriotic duty. With this provision mandating that voters must pay their taxes to qualify to vote, we should expect an increase in tax revenues. We should balance the duty of taxpaying to the other rights embodied in the Constitution. Those who do not pay taxes should not have the right to march on the streets, making life miserable for the taxpayers who work and contributes to the survival of the nation. Non taxpayers should not consume the services of the government nor utilize the resources of the nation. Taxes are the lifeblood of the nation. The office of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue should be made a constitutional office similar to the COA and the Ombudsman. The Commissioner will have a fix term of eight years in order that the campaign to secure more revenues for the government could consistently be undertaken impervious to political change or pressures. Human rights should be balanced with human responsibilities. Our supposed democratic system in electing leaders is basically based on the popularity of the candidates. Developed countries could be more liberal in the qualifications of their leaders considering they could well afford to waste their resources. Popularity or name recall is not enough in an underdeveloped country like the Philippines which has very limited resources and has more problems than solutions. For the country to progress, only the best and the brightest of our people should work in government. The political leaders should be pre-qualified in terms of the EEE (Education, Experience and Ethics) to be able to hold public office and manage efficiently the five factors of production M’s (manpower, management, money, machinery, methodology) needed by the country to progress. The political managers must be qualified as to the EEE’s to improve the productivity of the nation and to increase the confidence of the people that the resources of the nation are being properly managed. The government and the parents spent billions of pesos yearly to educate our children. Our youth must pass the time tested crucible of knowledge to become patriotic citizens and serve the Filipino society; why shouldn’t education be a primary basis of qualifications in holding public office? The higher the position the better educated must be the leader. The educated leader must contribute to the improvement of the system and not the other way around. Political leaders must not only be good in communications but also be in other disciplines such as
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economics, business, law, the sciences, accounting etc. Members of parliament/congress must have a minimum of a master’s degree in the various disciplines to qualify as a candidate. Considering that national security is a major function of the government, all members of parliament/congress and the key officers of the Executive and Judiciary should be required to have Master degree in National Security to qualify for their positions. Upgrading the qualifications of the members of the political elite reduces in favor of the people the costs of the learning curve. Education acts as a disciplinary mechanism in the thinking process of the citizen/leader. The less informed and educated is the politician, the more the people must spend in time and money to educate the leader. Upgrading the qualifications will ensure that only the best and the brightest of future generations of Filipinos will be managing the limited resources of the people. EXPERIENCE is a must in managing the resources of the people because the experienced political manager commits fewer mistakes than an inexperienced neophyte does. Those aspiring for executive positions must show proof that they are experienced in managing people, and the resources entrusted by the people. There is a debate whether a parliamentary or Presidential system will be better system for our country. National Success cannot be achieved by simply changing the system; the people most especially the political elite must work to make the system succeed. The biggest advantage of a parliamentary system is the country will be dependent on organizations with its built in reserves of leaders, with definite platforms and programs and not on individual personalities. To be elected Prime Minister, the legislator will depend on the votes of his party or coalition of parties. The strength and organization of the political party is therefore primordial if their platform will be accepted by the people. In a presidential system, it is the personal charisma and linkages not the organization which counts under our current system. Under the current system, the President is highly vulnerable to threats/blackmails of impeachments that a lot of precious time and resources of the people is being spent by the politicians to ensure the survival or the reduction of the term of office of the office of the President rather than on working on the programs and projects needed to create the jobs badly needed by the people. In a parliamentary system, there is also an impeachment process in the form of a vote of no confidence supported by the majority of the legislators. A Parliamentary resolution of no confidence will lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The government collapses and new elections are immediately called to form a new government. Legislators can not simply call for the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet without putting at risk their own political positions. The perception of political instability is largely brought about by the fratricidal infernal bickering of the political elite as commercially broadcasted and propagated by the media.

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Under our current system, in order to progress in the leadership ladder, the politician must first destroy his Filipino brother. How could we isolate the destructive methodology of the political struggle of the 1% political elite from the 99% constituency who are not seeking the trappings and privileges of power but simply a better life for their children? Our country is like a boat, big “balanghai”, managed by a President, manned by oarsman and carrying a load of passengers to the port of full employment and progress. The current problem is we have a President who is limited by a no reelection provision running a ship whose crew is seeking extensions of power. Different agenda means that some oarsmen are either not rowing or rowing in the opposite direction so that the ship slows down or completely stops from reaching its destination of full domestic employment. Perhaps we should consider a single term, no consecutive re election provision for all our leaders as a means of defusing the tension, stress and waste of the people’s resources in the struggle to gain political power If the Constitution mandates a required sabbatical period between terms of office, we will have a situation where some members of the political elite will just be ordinary citizens for one or two years between terms of offices. From the top of the mountain looking down, segments of the political leadership will experience the humbling feeling and the ordinary citizen’s experience of looking up during the sabbatical periods. Every election we will have two set of political leaders: a new team of leaders campaigning and competing for office, playing in the same level field. The team of incumbents will be prohibited from being involved in the campaign but must concentrate to the fullest on nation building during their term of office. There is no need for the Filipino leaders to destroy each other because they will not derive any political benefit from fratricidal, resource wasting, combat which is consuming a lot of their productive time. The leaders will now have common goal… nation building. The long term development of national political leaders will be based on a simple policy… each generation of Filipinos must and will produce their own set of leaders. There will always somebody better available in the leadership pool for the country to progress. If we are willing to spend billions for the hardware of the nation, we also are willing to spend for the development of the essential software (leaders with EEE) that will enable the country to move forward. The Constitution should be amended to read: It s the function of government to fund the long term development, recruitment, campaign and selection of political leaders in order to ensure that the leadership reserves are always available to serve the nation. We should consider constitutionally modifying the method of solving violent political disputes in order that the people could be isolated from their internal debilitating strife of the political elite. Our forefathers have a simple solution to violent hard headed tribal leaders who injure or harm the people in their ambitions for political power. The opposing leaders and their followers who are using violent means to gain power are gathered together in the Isle de Sin Razon. They are given 30 days to peacefully negotiate an agreement which would settle the problem without the blood of their brothers being
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shed. If no settlement is reached, the leaders and their followers of the opposing camps are free to eliminate each other to the last man. In this manner no innocent, unarmed civilians are hurt in the internecine struggle. Our colonizers disallowed this system of settling violent disputes calling it barbaric and uncivilized. They failed to see that by isolating the 1% elephants from the 99% ants, the syndrome of Cain and Abel was prevented from infecting the rest of the people causing the collapse of the nation. Here we are, supposedly a civilized people, yet when the political elite bickers and quarrels, a lot of our people secures eternal peace or go jobless and are forced to migrate, leaving their children in order that their families would survive. Which is more civilized in solving political disputes our current system, or the Isle of Sin Razon? The Constitution has designated the AFP as the only legitimate protector of the people. Any other army who challenges that mandate of the AFP faces the risk of violent confrontation for a country cannot have political stability with more than one army on its soil. The AFP full potential as the protector of the people should be positively considered by the amended Constitution. All qualified officers and personnel of the AFP and PNP who have rendered at least 10 years service in the protection of the country should be encouraged and be given the opportunity to seek optional retirement. Ten years in the service would determine whether a citizen is really suited for military service, entrepreneurship, professional work, politics or business. An army to survive and progress must have an altruistic Mission, instilled Discipline and an effective chain of command (A soldier who no longer believes in the mission, discipline and chain of command should be encouraged to retire or resign from the service, join one of the political parties and should be supported to run for public office in order that the reforms he seeks could be constitutionally undertaken. The soldier would make an ideal political leader because he is trained to be disciplined and his orientation is patriotism. He is willing to risk his life to defend the Constitution.). Once retired, the soldiers are automatically made part of the reserve force and must be given first priority in jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities made available by the government. Qualification means that they have the academic ratings fitted to the job available. The chief of staff and service commanders upon retirement shall join parliament or Congress for a two years term of office as part of the people’s list. The automatic assimilation of the retired military personnel in civilian life will lessen the tension and stress between the military hierarchy and the people they are suppose to serve and protect. Economics: Economics 101 has taught us that the private sector is the producer of the bulk of the income that keeps the government functioning. The government is the consumer of the
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income produced by the private sector. In the current imbalance between our population growth of 5000 babies daily and our inability to create the jobs domestically, our heavy debt load and our bickering political leaders are perennial constraints that has lead to the retrogression of the nation. Considering that our political elite is very busy destroying each other, the solution to national problems must therefore be provided by the private sector by expanding their investments and creating more jobs so that we can bring home our children. For the private sector to move forward, they must not only be encouraged and also be empowered to do so. They must take a more active role not only in producing the income but also be involved in the rational distribution and consumption of the income produced. The chairman of the top 20 Filipino corporate taxpayers and the top 20 individual tax payers should be made automatic members of the people’s list entitled to sit in Congress or Parliament for one year term. For example: Why should the Filipino Chairman of San Miguel, PLDT, Metro, SM Groups, PNB and the other top taxpayers not be made automatic members of the parliament considering the successful businessmen know how to create income, generate employment for the country… better than anybody else? The past presidents of the various professional groups [Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Philippine Constructors Association (PCA), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Philippine Medical association (PMA), Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), etc.] should also be part of the people’s list and members of parliament. In this manner, the successful business man and professional’s expertise in creating income and employment could be used first hand in the drafting of bills intended for the progress of the nation. Thus the people will save on the costly waste of trying to reinvent the wheel. The people’s list will be paid an allowance based on the number of hours they actually spend in the plenary hall of congress debating/voting on national issues. NO WORK NO PAY. Perhaps the waste of the people’s money whenever there is no quorum in Congress could be minimized thru the active participation not only of the consumers but also of the producers of the income of government. The resources of the people should not be sentimentally viewed but pragmatically assessed as factors of production that should be developed for the long term benefit of the people. Resources should be classified as renewable or consumable by the Constitutional amendment. Consumable resources such as mineral ores should be developed but a certain percentage of the government share of the income in the development should be placed in trust with the Central Bank who shall manage the trust fund in perpetuity. In this manner, future generations of Filipinos will somehow benefit from the development of resources that the current generation is currently consuming to solve its problems. 10%
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of the income placed in a perpetual trust fund should approximate the value of the resource currently consumed in 40 years time when our grand children are facing the responsibilities of nation building. Renewable resources such as fishing and forest products should be developed in such manner as to ensure that the financial benefits of the resource will not be completed depleted by one generation to the detriment of future generation. For example: For every tree cut, 100 more trees should be planted to ensure the progressive development of the forest reserves. Japan should be a good example of progressive resource development. They simply conserved their own homeland resources and buy and import from other countries. Time is a resource of the nation, once gone cannot be recovered again. The speed of the progress of information technology demonstrates the value of time. We either build our section of the information highway or are left behind as international business becomes more competitive. The use of TIME by the political elite must lead to increased productivity for inaction or bureaucratic inefficiency results in lost of investments causing the non creation of jobs needed to keep our children home. The amended Constitution must recognize and address this problem of wasteful use of precious time because everyday 5,000 babies are born needing the attention, concern and limited services of the nation. What is important is the quality of time not the quantity of time used in considering the terms of office, the processing and approvals of permits and projects, or the bureaucratic decision making processes that will determine whether a nation will progress or retrogress. The code of ethics (r.a 6713) requires government officials to reply within 15 days on complaints, inquiries, and letters of the citizens. This provision is violated more often than not resulting in a perennial gap in the communications linkage between the officials and the citizenry they are suppose to serve. As a result of non action by some government officials, the taxpayers feel neglected and abused. They are required to pay for taxes to pay the salaries of the officials but get zero service when they request for time and the service they need. Reducing the bureaucratic red tape would contribute to increased productivity of the government enhancing the faith and confidence of the people on their leaders. When government officials refuse to act or neglect to act on projects submitted by the citizens that are intended to create jobs and increase the income of the government such acts of neglect or inaction result in economic sabotage highly damaging to the country and the people. Some officials refuse to act or to move because TIME is an asset of the people which if not properly utilized becomes and a liability and instrument for extortionate crimes. 15 days is more than sufficient for government officials to respond so that tax income could be generated and employment opportunities could be created. In the light of our economic problems, Government officials whose acts of economic sabotage result in the lost of opportunities in the creation of jobs and generation of tax income for the government should be permanently disqualified from working in the government.
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Land is a factor of production and is the economic platform on which agricultural, commercial, industrial, residential output is produced, tax revenues generated and employment opportunities created... Land is as an important resource of the people because it basically defines the territory of the country. Land should be classified by the amended Constitution as natural as that created by God/Nature and Man-Made as in the case of land reclamation projects. (GOD has taught man of the need to help himself in looking for solutions to his problem. In genesis 9-11, the world’s best engineer described the formula of land reclamation from the sea from the beginning of time...). Land should be further classified according to use; agricultural/forest, industrial and commercial and residential. Except for land identified as permanent agricultural/forest reserves, all land should be available for commercial use by the citizens and foreigners, individuals and private corporations, alike. As the population increases there will be need for more land for industrial, commercial and residential use. If we are to depend on natural land, we will be forced to convert land intended for food and the ecology to industrial, residential or commercial use as what is currently happening. Such conversion will not only threaten long term food security but also the environment. As you reduce the forest cover, yearly rains will flood the low, lying areas resulting in man made tragedies as what has happened recently. As we convert prime agricultural lands to residential subdivisions, we will increase our dependence on other countries for the imported agricultural products for our basic needs. Man-made land provides a long term solution to the problem of the future shortage of land supply. From a ZERO base, billions of assets, income and employment are created when additional land is created from the sea surrounding our islands. The extremists claim that our land should not be owned by foreigners because it deprives our own citizens the chance to own land. Land should be viewed simply as a platform of production that should generate more jobs for the jobless and create more income for the government. Land ownership should be expanded in terms of vertical ownership such a multistory condo project rather than a limited horizontal use. Whether the land is owned by Filipinos, foreigners, by corporations or by individuals should not matter as long as the land creates the jobs and the income that the country needs to survive and progress. Even if the land is owned by foreigners, they cannot bring the land in their pocket and bring it abroad. Nationalistic parochial considerations should be counter balanced by the fact that more and more of our people are becoming international citizens of the world. How can we close our doors to foreign investors when 8 plus millions of our people is dependent on the hospitality of foreign countries for their economic survival? The country is an archipelago, thus we have the advantage of creating more land from the sea if so required so as to preserve for future generation of Filipinos the permanent agricultural, marine and forest reserves required for food security and environmental
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requisites. Other countries such as Singapore, Dubai, China are expanding their land areas by creating land from the sea. We should expand our land areas to match the requirements of an expanding population. If we use the future of our children’s children as a common, altruistic, apolitical humanistic objective, then we could easily justify the need to amend the Constitution. If we want to make the foundation of the nation’s house stronger for the future generation of Filipinos, there is a need to think beyond our time.

Jayceely yours,

D. J. WENCESLAO, JR. Chairman, Advocacy Committee Philippine Jaycee Senate

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