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The parliamentary system may not succeed here

The Commonwealth government under President Quezon was inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1935. The
president’s term of six years was accepted as neither too long nor too short. As the years passed swiftly,
Quezon thought six years was too short. He asked Speaker Jose Yulo to initiate an amendment to the
Constitution to create a Congress consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives to replace the
National Assembly and extend the presidential term to a maximum of two four-year terms. In Washington,
DC Quezon’s term was against extended by resolution of the US Congress.
Unassailable integrity
In a parliamentary form of government the term limit is decided by parliament and its coalition of parties. In
2005, Angela Merkel was elected chancellor of Germany for her unassailable integrity. In the United
Kingdom David Cameron was elected prime minister in 2010 to lead a coalition government.
Can we amend the Constitution and adopt a parliamentary form of government as in Germany, UK, and
Japan? We can but we need to organize a true and strong party system. We refer to David Cameron as the
Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. Our Congress of 290 House members and 24 senators can
become a parliament of 314 members. Some four or five political parties or coalition of parties will compete
to win a majority of 314 members.
Fast count
The four or five political parties will first choose their leaders before heading to a parliamentary election in
314 constituencies or districts. Election of MPs (Members of Parliament) in most countries under the
parliamentary system is held once in five years. In one constituency, the voters will write only one name on
the ballot. In our system we have a long ballot for the national and local officials and the counting of votes
may take days to complete. Last May, the Conservative Party won a majority and the results were made
known in a matter of hours.
We need a strong party
Despite our experience in politics of more than 100 years, shifting to a parliamentary system may not reap
the expected success. We need to build a strong party whose members have the discipline and loyalty
shown by German, British, and Japanese political parties, when crossing party lines may be referred to as
the moral equivalent of treason.
Most political writers refer to the parliamentary system as a government by parties. Filipinos are not used to
selecting their leaders by indirect means. They vote, directly for president, vice president, senators, House
members, and local officials.
Our habit to go to court
The prime minister is chosen by the party members and after a parliamentary election he represents the
party in Parliament. If his party wins a majority in Parliament, he becomes the prime minister or head of the

To most Filipinos who make it a habit to question acts of Congress, they may not find the same remedy in
the courts under a parliamentary system. British courts cannot nullify an act of Parliament and courts lack
the power to review acts of Parliament.
Not a party
Our so-called parties like the LP, NP, and UNA are not the same political parties that can support a
parliamentary government. The three are non-performing factions without a list of bonafide members.

Parliamentary democracy in the Philippines would be
a very bad idea
(1) Will a change in the constitution get rid of the corrupt system we have
at the moment?
The idea that a superficial alteration of the political system could heal a rotten
political culture could only take root in a country as addicted to the quick fix
as the Philippines. The President herself does not believe it, and hardly
mentioned political reform until it became politically expedient for her to do
so. The country does not believe it—that much was clear as long ago as
September 1997 when a quarter of a million people gathered in Rizal Park to
protest then President Ramos’s “cha-cha” (charter change) plans. As has been
said over and over again, it is not the system that is rotten but the political
class that runs it.
(2) Will a parliamentary system make the Philippines more like the
“progressive” neighbours identified by the president in her state of the
nation speech?
The parliamentary flower takes on the flavour of the ground in which it is
planted. The president was not clear which “progressive” neighbours she was
referring to, but let’s take Malaysia and Singapore as examples.
In Malaysia, the system is largely driven by the executive branch. This was
particularly the case in the last decade of Mahathir Mohamed’s prime
ministership, when he rarely attended sessions of parliament, which was just
democratic window dressing for autocratic rule.
In Singapore, as we all know, there is only ever one point of view. This
dogmatic democracy is reflected in the parliament, where the Parliamentary
Action Party (PAP) holds a majority the size of which has rarely, if ever, been
achieved in other countries. Having obliterated the Worker’s Party and its
courageous leader J.B. Jeyeratnam, in the late 1980s the PAP found itself in
the ludicrous situation of holding every single seat in the Singapore parliament.
The solution? Appointed “opposition” MPs of course. Appointed by whom?
Appointed by the people they are supposed to “oppose”! I am not kidding,

that’s what they did and, you know what, it wasn’t such a bad idea. A friend of
mine. Walter Woon, was one of the first of the appointed opposition MPs and
served with distinction for a number of years. Still, let's be honest, although a
Philippine parliament will face many problems, lack of an opposition is unlikely
to be one of them.
In the end it is not the seed that matters, but the ground in which it planted,
and as for the stony ground in the Philippines I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks.
M_n_y p_l_t_cs
F_lm s_ars
Vo_te b_y_ng
I can’t see these changing under a parliamentary system.
(3) Will parliamentary democracy lead to a more stable system?
No! If you can possibly imagine this, political life will be much more
chaoticunder a parliamentary system.
The principle of parliamentary democracy is that the leader of a party that is
able to command a majority is asked to form a government (either because his
or her party has an “absolute majority”, i.e., more than 50% of the seats, or
because he or she has worked a deal with smaller parties so they will support
his or her party and thereby enable coalition government). Now, given the
balimbing nature of Philipine politics do you think that will be end of the story?
Of course not! Politicians from minority parties holding the balance of power
will be in an enormously powerful position, just like MPs from the religious
parties that often hold the balance in Israel, another parliamentary democracy.
In Israel, where political principles are more important than money, this means
minority religious parties are able to exact political concessions from the larger
party, usually Likud, in the coalition (more settlements on the West Bank, that
sort of thing). In the Philippines the political class wouldn’t know a principle if
it jumped up and bit it in the bottom, so the pay-off will be settlements in the
Hamptons or other desirable neighbourhoods.
And who will pay to preserve these fragile political groupings? Got a mirror
Let’s say that that a particular politician holds out for a price that is so
outrageous even the most unscrupulous prime minister baulks at it. The
government then “falls”, usually through a no-confidence vote. Other parties
scuttle around like crazy trying to patch together strange and disparate
coalitions. Sometimes they succeed, usually they fail. House prices in the
Hamptons rise.

If all this activity proves fruitless there will be an election, in the hope that
this will “clear the air” and strengthen one party or another so another can be
formed. There will be almost no notice period; in Britain, for example, an
election takes place 3 weeks after it is called. Which leads to my next point.
(4) Will elections be free, fair and well run under a parliamentary system?
Are you kidding? In May 1998 Comelec knew that the next election would be in
May 2004. It had six years to prepare for elections that turned out to be a
complete disaster (the chaotic conduct of which led directly to the current
crisis). The Philippines’ performance in the 2004 election was a national
embarrassment, particularly when compared with the smoothly conducted
elections in India (13 times larger) the same year. Now if this was the result
when the election date was known six years in advance, what is going to
happen when Comelec has three weeks in which to prepare?
(5) Will a parliamentary system lead to stronger political parties and a move
away from personality-driven politics?
This argument is often put forward by proponents of the parliamentary system
but I am unconvinced. We live in a tacky, soundbite, TV-dominated age. Look at
Britain, where a photogenic sleazeball like Tony Blair managed to get reelected despite leading the country into an unnecessary and disastrous war, the
results of which we all saw on TV a couple of weeks ago.
I am not even sure that stronger parties would be a great idea for the
Philippines. Entrenched parties usually reflect the divisions in society. They
sometimes help to perpetuate those divisons, as in Malaysia, where the three
main parties (the United Malay National Organization, the Malaysian Indian
Congress, and the Malaysian Chinese Association) mirror and reinforce the
racial divisons in society. In the Philippines, the two main blocks will clearly be
a “masa” party and a “conservative” or “status quo” party – with many variants
and spin-offs that may play a critical role, as already noted. Under such a
system, any hope of a “national” solution—recognizing that, at certain
junctures, the interests of capitalists and the working class may coincide—will
be lost for ever. Yet, it is that idea of a shared endeavour that lay behind the
spectacular successes of Asian tigers like South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore
in the last quarter of the 20th century.
Parliamentary democracy also inevitably offers voters fewer choices. In the UK,
for example, one reason for voter apathy is that there is little difference
between the two main parties, both of which are now essentially conservative.
You can say what you like about Philippine democracy, but at least it offers the
electorate a choice.
(6) But isn’t the current system in need of a drastic overhaul?
The Philippines has quite a good political system. I know this is a minority point
of view, but I think the way the current system has accommodated the

different points of view on the phone tapes over the past few weeks is a sign of
its flexibility and strength, not its weakness. There was public concern and the
system allowed that to be expressed in well-organized rallies, with no violence
(apart from a minor dust-up in Cebu) and, so far as I know, no arrests. The
public concern has, however, not been sufficient to threaten the administration
in any way and so proceedings have followed the procedures allowed for in the
constitution. What is wrong with that?
(7) So nothing needs to be changed?
Comelec needs to be changed. Everything flows from that. Diverting attention
from this open sore on the body politic by promoting comprehensive and
unnecessary change is not the way to go.
Above all, results need to reported immediately, not two months after the
election. This can be done without expensive computer systems. In the UK
elections last year the first results were reported 40 minutes after the close of
polling — and that was a hand count.
If the Philippines is able to enjoy free, fair and fast elections, many of its
current political problems will heal themselves. Reforming Comelec rather than
engaging in grandiose constitutional change is where the country should be
going. In my view, anyway.

Parliamentary system not for Philippines:
The wherefores
The raging debate in the Philippines today has to do with the proposition that the presidential system of
government has dismally failed and should now be replaced by parliamentary rule. The warrior advocates
of the parliamentary system have gone to war. Largely by stealth, crimson propaganda and conspiratorial
cunning, (and without any popular multipartisan debate on the matter), the House approved Resolution
No. 16 last March. With Senate participation, they would now convoke a Constituent Assembly in the
fastest possible time to effect the switch from presidential to parliamentary in May-June 2004 through a
national referendum this year.
They now assure us that with the approaching demise of the presidential system, the Philippines will be rid
of perennial roadblocks to economic progress, rid of a chronic political stalemate paralyzing every effort to
unclog national disunity and achieve in the shortest possible time unity and a robust sense of national
purpose. Hallelujah! The Con-Ass (diminutive of Constituent Assembly) will provide the vision. The
incoming parliament in 2004, by virtue of elections to a unicameral legislature, will provide the stairway to
political and economic heaven.
We are now constantly being bamboozled with the argument that if the Philippines is far behind many of
its neighbor countries in East and Southeast Asia, it is because they have a parliamentary system. And we
Filipinos, imbeciles that we are, have stuck over the generations to an outmoded presidential system. This
system, we are told, has brought us nothing but mass poverty, corruption on an unprecedented scale,
crime and violence that could have only come from the lowest pits of Hades.
With this two-column series, we intend to demolish these arguments and further expose Con-Ass for what
it really is � Pearl Harbor in disguise. Or better still, an ugly coup in the making. This is what makes it
doubly frightening. First, it exploits the Constitution to inflict the swindle on the citizenry that what it is
doing is for the nation�s good. Second, the members of Con-Ass will be the nation�s supreme
masters starting mid-2004. Can you beat that? Today, as almost all national surveys show, Congress is the

lowest man on the totem pole of institutional popularity.
Their members are among the most hated and despised of the human species in our country. Today, like
Sir Walter Raleigh, they would spread their coats on the muddied ground for the citizenry to cross over to
Arcadia. They would be Moses. They would be our liberators.
But let me substantially begin by tracing the lineaments of parliamentary government.
It all began in Britain. From there it became a model for France and other European countries in the 18th
century. And also Canada, India, Australia, and wherever the Union Jack was raised as the British Empire
spread. With the collapse of the divine rule of kings and the rising popular clamor for more representative
rule, an elected parliament representing the people took shape. This resulted in the House of Commons
and the House of Lords, the former real repository of power, the latter largely ceremonial. At the time,
England�s economy was expanding rather rapidly and gave rise to thousands of interest and pressure
groups. Eventually, two major parties stood out � the Conservative and Labor parties.
From whatever viewpoint, these two parties constituted parliament, constituted England of the right and
the left, constituted the heart and soul of British politics, constituted the nation, constituted the bitter,
often ferocious political give-and-take that provided illumination for the nation. Labor constituted the
working class, held up its wounds and oppression for redress. The Tories embodied the useful residual
legacy of the kings, at the same time that they worked out the capitalist future of the nation, at its most
creative when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister many years later.
We don�t have anything like that in the Philippines.
Parliamentarism is a culture born of the Occident, its historic twists and turns, peculiar only to Britain and
a clutch of Western European countries. They had all gone through the Industrial Revolution and the
Renaissance. They all had a mind-set that was distinctly European, an education that stamped the
European ethos on one and all. It was they and only they that could make parliamentarism work, because
they keened to its bedrock culture. And the majority were God-fearing Protestants who cherished work
and did not mind at all if this work made them rich and highly prosperous, so long as they remained
honest and God-fearing. Catholic dogma works the other way. And we Filipinos are heir to Catholic
They were the end-result of a long historical revolution where the divine rule of kings succumbed to
Parliament in a changing world.
We Filipinos do not have that history. We were a tribal country of more than 7,000 islands suddenly
becoming a "nation" after throwing back the abuses of Castilian Spain. We were a "nation" again after
Admiral George Dewey came over and the Yankee doughboys slaughtered about a million Filipinos in the
conquest of this country. Our conquerors never really emancipated us, in the sense of rescuing us from
our millennial poverty and misery and installing their institutions here. They got what they wanted as all
conquerors always get what they want.
Sure, we had the Malolos Republic in 1898. Had it not been upended by American colonialism, we would
have presumably installed a parliamentary government. Where would it have led to if the Americans did
not come? Here, we are in the lotus land of might-have-been. We probably would have been reconquered
by another imperialist country just the same.
What are or were the essential features of parliamentary government as conceived by Britain?
They are, among others, rule of law, the supremacy of a popularly-elected parliament, collective
responsibility of the Cabinet (executive to Parliament) and a tradition of stable, program or policy-oriented
political parties (Prof. Olivia Caoili, Legislative and Executive Relations in the Philippines and the
Parliamentary Alternatives). Read that again. Stable, policy-oriented or program-oriented political parties.
Without such parties as an ideological glue parliamentary government in the Philippines would be a
colossal sham.
Do not tell me Lakas-NUCD is such a party, or Laban, or NPC. They are no more political parties in the
European parliamentary tradition as a slut crossing herself is the reincarnation of Joan of Arc.
On the contrary, because we do not have such political parties, a parliamentary government in 2004 will
be a riot of traditional politicians endlessly vying for power. Who cares for the political doctrine of John
Locke or the laissez-faire philosophy of Adam Smith? You have lots of money. You can always buy the
majority in Congress � give it a fancy political name � and become prime minister until the next
bimbo, with more money than you have, comes along.

Who will countervail? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guardians? Who will protect the
nation from his new breed of brigands who have more to do with Long John Silver and his pirates than the
Declaration of Human Rights? At least, in the presidential system, a chief executive with courage,
integrity, and unfailing resolve, separately elected from Congress, and an alert judiciary can countervail
against a corrupt Congress. In a parliamentary government as envisioned by Con-Ass, the unicameral
assembly is a constant pigsty, its leavings those of Attila and the Huns after they all peed and emptied on
the Rhone.
Now, about our neighbor countries succeeding economically because they have a parliamentary
government. That�s what Con-Ass is foisting, isn�t it? That�s a laugh.
They succeeded not because they had parliamentary but because they dreamed early in the 20th century,
and worked like a driven demon to achieve their dream. They succeeded because their culture was
different from ours, a building culture, an entrepreneurial culture, a community culture. They would not
allow America and the West to widen the gap. They sent tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of their best
students to the US and Europe. There they would personally touch the philosopher�s stone. By this
time, the stone was defined as science, technology, math, engineering, modern management, the latest
factory and manufacturing techniques, the magic of cyberspace and the Internet. China was not
parliamentary. Japan of the Meijis was not parliamentary.
The parliamentary system of government had nothing to do with "the Asian miracle" of economic success
at all. Not at all.
It had to do with the Chinese adage that the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. And so
the Chinese have hit the road since more than 30 years ago, in the process investing blood, tears and
sweat. It had to do with Dr. Mahathir Mohamad�s social engineering, how to make the Chinese, Malays
and Indians work together, and work, work, work, till the Petron Towers, the world�s tallest, would
streak majestically into the skyline. An Asian technological marvel.
The advocates of a parliamentary system lie shamelessly when they claim the Asian "economic miracle"
was nurtured and engineered by this unicameral legislature which originated in Britain in the 18th century.
Almost all international authorities on the issue of Asia�s phenomenal economic performance are
however agreed that what brought about the "miracle" were three essential factors. The first was the
predominant role of "Asian values". The second was the Confucian culture embedded in these "miracle"
countries. The third was the government�s reliance on authoritarian or strongman rule or even
dictatorial methods to speed up economic progress.
Actually, the system of government varied in ritual from country to country. But even as the ritual varied,
the orders always originated from above where the "leader" dictated the agenda and program of
government. Disciplined work brigades vied with each other to break performance records, and the best
were amply rewarded with decorations and even material awards. Parliaments and congresses existed in
some countries, but they were largely docile, toothless rubber stamps whose membership was decided by
the government. In all instances, they were one-party organizations. This did away with unnecessary,
time-consuming debates and florid discussions. The road ahead was cleared by skilled bureaucrats.
It was this full-fisted, no-nonsense government that brought about change in Asia. Democracy and the
parliamentary system were of no concern to Singapore�s Lee Kuan Yew, China�s Deng Xiaoping,
Japan�s dynamic Meiji elite, Malaysia�s Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, South Korea�s Park Chung-hee,
Thailand�s first ruling crop of nationalist and entrepreneurial generals, Taiwan�s Chiang Ching-Kuo. It
was they, and their culture wrapped in Asian values that changed their way of life for the better. And
changed Asia.
The voice that mattered was that of the respected leader � strong intrepid, highly intelligent,
compelling, commanding. Lee Kuan Yew is the archetype. The issues that mattered were cocooned in
ideas and concepts that, however, innovative, stuck to party ideology. The ethic that mattered most was
unrelenting work. The emotion that overrode everything else was love of country. They had to succeed,
catch up with the West.
The Asian values that mattered were sympathy, distributive justice, duty consciousness, ritual, public
spiritedness, willingness to delay gratification, honesty, thrift, trustworthiness, ample savings, respect for
education, respect for authority and elders and group orientation. Take the case of Malaysia. Dr. Mahathir,
the prime minister, espoused the cause of the Bumiputra (Malay Sons of the Soil). Through a series of
draconian laws and decrees, Mahathir gave them every opportunity to catch up with the Chinese and the
Indians. This could not have happened under a democratic system, parliamentary or presidential.

Take the case of South Korea in the late �50s. Gen. Park Chung-hee smashed his knuckles into the
crazy-quilt free enterprise system spawned by his predecessor Syngman Rhee and favored by the US. He
set up a dictatorship which first decreed land reform. He then got the leading capitalists, entrepreneurs,
economists, policy planners together win to something like a ruling national council. He drove them to
excel, meet or exceed targets. Or else. The story goes that a prominent businessman complained, said he
couldn�t meet his target. Park Chung-hee simply replied he would be executed at dawn. The
businessman relented and met his target.
That was iron discipline. But it was that discipline that forged the new South Korea and today it is the 12th
biggest economy in the world. It was only many decades later, after the corrupt governments of Choon
Doo-Huan and Roh Tae Woo were busted, and the two presidents charged and imprisoned, that South
Korea had its first real democratic elections under Kim Young-sam. The parliamentary system was a
complete stranger to South Korea�s rapid thrust into a tiger economy.
In the aftermath, the "Asian miracle" roared for three decades together with Hong Kong and Taiwan. That
was shock and awe.
The Philippines couldn�t join that phenomenal economic onslaught, a highly "Westernized" country, it
was outside the loop of Asian values and Confucian family and community tradition. Our country was an
outsider. In an ample sense, it had the religious and social culture of Latin America � Ramon Catholic,
impoverished, submissive, patient, resigned. Lawrence D. Harrington of Harvard, an international
authority on this issue, wrote about the Latino: "Resignation of the poor. To be poor is to deserve heaven.
To be rich is to deserve hell. It is good to suffer in this life because in the next life, you will find eternal
reward." He could have been writing about the Filipino. By the way, failed parliamentary governments are
strewn all over Latin America, an economically backward continent.
I better explain that Confucian culture in more detail. More than anything else, that culture fueled � in
greater or lesser measure � the sensational economic drives of, aside from China, Japan, Singapore,
Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Malaysia. And now Vietnam.
Lucien Pye, another professor emeritus at Harvard, liberally quotes Max Weber whom he calls the
"unsurpassed master of the origins of capitalism." Weber analyzed Chinese culture and saw similarities
with Puritanism. The Chinese character, Weber said, "would in all probability be quite capable, probably
more capable than the Japanese, of assimilating capitalism which has technically and economically been
fully developed in the modern culture area." Imagine! Weber wrote his masterpiece The Protestant Ethic
and the Spirit of Capitalism in 1903-07.
Even that early Max Weber forecast that China "might indeed be able to emulate capitalistic practices in
time." Weber also shared the (French Enlightenment�s (18th century) positive views about China. So
Napoleon was right after all in mid-19th century. He said China was a "sleeping giant" that would wake up
one day and stun the world.
The Confucian "need for achievement", according to Lucien Pye, is a constant "drive for excellence". He
added: "Chinese children are taught the importance of striving for success and the shame of not
measuring up to parental expectations." Pye stresses "the key values of reliance on the social networks
(guanxi), of taking the long-run view, of seeking market share rather than profits, of delaying
gratification, and of aggressively saving for the future." All these have to do with getting the economy to
perform like the blazes. Today, China is on the verge of becoming an economic superpower. The
Philippines is the laggard of Asia.
I have purposely resorted to the varied works of renowned world authorities on the issue and the lessons
of history. As I emphasized earlier, the aim was to propagate the truth and debunk Con-Ass propaganda
that a parliamentary government in the Philippines would lead us to the biblical land of Canaan, flowing
with milk and honey. Nothing is farther from the truth.
This is the mother of all lies.
Let me refer the reader to another best-selling book, The Commanding Heights, written by award-winning
authors Daniel Yergin and Joseph Estanislaw. At one point, they write: "Most of the Asian success stories
involved, at some point, dictatorship, authoritarianism, or at least regulated politics and a de facto oneparty system. Yet at the same time, they built a consensus around the imperative of survival and the
visible returns of growth, indeed what has been called shared growth. Most Asian governments did
intervene � sometimes quite drastically. But they did so to influence the shape of market outcomes. The
paradox of Asia, then, was that in many ways it was government knowledge, enforced by political
structures, that helped bring about market-friendly outcomes."

Parliamentary? It didn�t even come as a sneeze.
The lesson to be drawn by the Philippines is that the British parliamentary system or other like systems is
hardly the political model for our country. It took "law and order" 200 years to mature in England. Its laws
were drawn from many revolts, many wars, myriad political clashes, the granite rebel face of Oliver
Cromwell, as history came like a tempest, where British culture shifted with the changing faces of the
economy. There is another thing. The records state there is no country in the world with a presidential
system of government that ever switched to parliamentary. It is the other way round. Parliamentary
switching to presidential. We could become the first.
The other lesson to be drawn is that our survival and eventual progress as a nation will have to keen to
the Asian model. Or models. The Western parliamentary model will not succeed here. Their ethos is not
ours, their culture is not ours and their history is not ours. We are a special breed, drawn from the tribal
culture of Lapu-Lapu in the 16th century, Christianized but nonetheless abused by Spain, then our
ilustrado elite brainwashed to accept the free trade blandishments of an imperial America.
Asia has moved rapidly forward. We have hardly grown since then.
I have that dread feeling that indecent rush to install a parliamentary government in the Philippines is a
leap not only into the dark but unmitigated disaster. It is propelled more by greed and ambition on the
part of the oligarchy than an honest heart, the prod of patriotism, scholarly work and historical research.
It is already obvious by this time that what has devastated the Filipinos as a people for more than a half a
century is not their system of government � but their unchanging culture.
We have a culture heavily resistant to development for many reasons.
We have a lousy work ethic still to banish the legend of Juan Tamad. We have a predominant Catholic
religion accused rightly or wrongly of erecting brick walls to national riches and prosperity because that is
supposed to be a big sin. The rewards will come in heaven. Our leadership care only for coupons not
change. We don�t trust anybody except members of our family. What is precisely needed for
development is community trust, a communal reaching out for the network of business and financial
bondings that economic progress requires. We are too frolic-prone and fiesta-prone. We abhor long-range
goals and programs that will make us sweat like a pack horse. We want to enjoy life now, and not sacrifice
for tomorrow. We have turned our back on progressive education, without which we will forever be
chained to poverty. We have no discipline.
Our leaders must understand that while indeed change is needed and even imperative, they more than
anybody else have to change. And soon.
And that change requires a contrite come-down for the high and mighty who seek to perpetuate their
status and hardly care if the overwhelming majority of Filipinos are dirt poor. As of now, they have no
social conscience. They are very much unlike the Bill Gates�, the Ted Turners, the Rockefellers,
Morgans, Fords, the Harrimans who donate billions to the sick, the impoverished and the needy, the racial
minorities. And set up philanthropic foundations in their name.
The noted British professor of government, P.S. Finer mentioned the Philippines twice in his
book Comparative Government. In the chapter "Fa�ade-Democracy", he said that governments like ours
"are manipulated and violated by a historic oligarchy as to stay in office." In such a fa�ade democracy,
"the reality is a loose confederation of bosses who by reason of their social and economic status can
deliver the vote." This is also called "clientelist democracy" or "patronage politics". Finer adds: "In
countries as disparate as India, the Philippines, the Lebanon and Somalia � the bases of political
allegiance, and the issues of politics, tend to be those of local and primary units. In such countries, the
structure of political party affiliation is clientelist."
But now that culture has shot to the top in identifying and classifying countries � enclosing the works of
top political scientists, economists, social anthropologists � let us quote David Landes (The Wealth and
Poverty of Nations): "Protestantism promoted the rise of modern capitalism. Protestantism did this, Weber
said, not by easing or abolishing those aspects of the Roman faith that had deterred free economic activity
(the prohibition of usury, for example) but by defining an ethic of everyday behavior that conducted to
economic success."
Culture again. Wherever they are in the world, Jews and Chinese always excel. It is less their system of
government but their culture, which is a divine whiplash on their character, their striving to be the best,
their reaching out to each other, their utter dedication to education. When I was studying for my masters
in political science in Paris, the brightest students were almost always Israelis. They had a passion to
learn, learn, and learn. In America, there are at least 60,000 Chinese at any time of day in the best

graduate and elite schools enrolled in science, technology, advanced math, engineering. Learn, learn, and
The bulk of Filipinos are Roman Catholics. Are we therefore consigned � because of our culture � to
the languid state of losers and laggards in an Asia starting to boom with wealth and plenty? They have the
Confucian culture and the Asian values. We don�t have them.
The answer is no.
Culture is not frozen once and for all. Like anything else, culture shifts and changes, sheds the negative,
borrows the creative and the positive. Spain and Portugal, once the Catholic economic outcasts of Europe,
realized the only way they could survive was change. So they joined the European Economic Community,
whose economic targets were tough, long-term and bruising. Now Spain and Portugal can boast they rode
the economic tiger and triumphed. So did Catholic France much earlier largely on the proddings of the
legendary Jean Monnet, an outstanding thinker, planner, ideologue, a top Allied adviser in the Second
World War. So did Roman Catholicism adjust speedily in Protestant-dominated America. So did Asia�s
economic tigers when they dismantled their feudal system posthaste to embrace capitalism and
modernity. In all cases, it was the leadership that decided.
But we must warn the hour is nigh.
Our political elite, our oligarchy must soon undergo an agonizing reappraisal � then make the tough
decisions. There has to be a substantial redistribution of the national income � of wealth. As of now,
about 10 cent of the rich and affluent corner more than 50 percent of the national income. That is
scandalous. They must learn to share by paying their taxes, by subsidizing education for the poor, by
engaging in social amelioration projects and schemes, by outright donations to the poorest and most
underprivileged, for their health, their advanced schooling, upgrading of work skills, the removal or
amelioration of slums, rinsing Metro Manila of its ugliness, its torpor, improving the public and private
school systems. Building parks, recreation centers.
Their reputation as of always is living luxuriously in gated communities like Forbes Park, Dasmari�as,
Ayala Alabang, and to hell with the poor, to hell with the rest of the country.
After all, they can go to confession and all their sins are forgiven. This is not Christianity. This is reliving
the hell of pre-parliamentary England, of feudal France before the Revolution of 1789 where thousands of
the manorial and industrial rich were beheaded, of pre-Reformation Europe where passage to heaven
could be bought and some popes themselves lived disgraceful lives. We Filipinos after all are now in the
21st century and the wonders of broadcast media make us aware of what is happening in the world. We
know. And yet we are strapped in inaction, shoved to some big hole where we cling alone and only to God
and the Virgin Mary. And not to our inner resources, talents and originality to unlock the Filipino genius.
We have to smash an inert, paralyzed, non-performing, infuriating culture whose motto is: Makakaraos din
tayo. Ayos lang.
I have no illusions that Speaker Jose de Venecia, after reading everything I have said on the subject, will
retreat or retract. They are an almost irresistible force in a weak and so far helpless nation, a powerful
spearhead of the oligarchy determined to install the parliamentary system by hook or by crook. Power
corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I can only warn them they are playing with fire. And laying waste the future of our children and their
children in turn. The parliamentary system is not a solution at all. It is a grab for power under the guise of
change. More than 50 percent of our people live below the poverty line, and they ache terribly for reforms,
for a new group of visionary leaders, for that shaft of political lightning that leads to Damascus. They
would perhaps appreciate and agree if the members of Congress who would constitute a Constituent
Assembly vote themselves out of the unicameral assembly proposed to be elected in 2004. Yes. Forswear
membership. That would convince the citizenry they are noble, serious and sincere. But as things stand,
they would be the first to barge into a parliamentary government. And profit handsomely.
If they fail, and I am almost sure they will fail, they would have poured the additional fuel social unrest
needs to explode. In such a situation, they agitate a power-hungry military, already ascendant as the sole
political power in violence-prone Mindanao. Tinkering with the constitution when the country is at the
crossroads is like playing with a ticking bomb in the schoolyard when the children are at play. That is
I have said my piece. I say again what we need is not regime change, or change to parliamentary, but a
change in our culture, a change in our hearts and minds, in our nature, in our character. The nation heals

best when it heals it�s poor and downtrodden. We need a pealing of bells in the night that we might all
wake up. If we don�t, what difference is there � really? Between those who colonized and conquered
us, and robbed us of our pride and dignity, and our present masters, the Filipino rich and powerful? They
too would tighten our chains and laugh uproariously and scornfully when the rest of the nation prays.
Yes, they would continue to play God. And we ask them, even implore them to change � soon. If they
don�t, nothing really stands still for all time. The ultimate earthly bomb is knowledge. Once the Filipinos
have this in their hands, and move in the streets, there will be unshirted hell to pay. Our culture will take a
different turn � and the eternal child becomes man.

Drawbacks of the
Parliamentary System of
Government – Essay
In spite of the many practical merits of the system some objections have been
urged against it. It has been argued that Parliamentary system violates the
theory of Separation of Powers and, accordingly, it cannot commend itself.
Combination of executive and legislative functions in the same set of individuals
leads to tyranny. Sidgwick, while admitting the undeniable gain of harmony
between these two chief organs of government, maintains that it is “to be
purchased by serious drawbacks.”
Ministers, he says, are liable to be distracted from their executive duties by the
work of preparing legislative measures and carrying them through parliament
while parliament is tempted away from legislative problems by interesting
questions of current administration in which, especially in foreign affairs, it is
liable to interfere to an excessive extent.”

The advantages of the division of government into different departments are,
thus, “lost in the fusion or confusion of legislative and executive functions.” This
criticism, however, does not seem to be valid.

Practical experience tells us that collaboration between the executive and
legislative powers is essential for the well-being of the States. These
departments cannot be divided into water-tight compartments.
The theory of the Separation of Powers, in its traditional and consequently rigid
form, is inconceivable and inoperative. While the same men may be at once
members of the legislature and the executive, their functions in the two roles are
It is further pointed out that the Parliamentary system is unstable. The
government has no fixed life. It remains in office only so long as it can retain
parliamentary majority which is subject to the vagaries of the representatives,
particularly “if dominant majority in the representative chamber is either small or
wanting in cohesion; and in the latter case it is also liable to be upset by a new
combination of parties in the chamber aided perhaps by personal intrigues if the
opportunity for the combination is skillfully chosen so that the newly-formed
majority is not reversed on an appeal to the country.”
The uncertainty in the tenure of office, the critics maintain, provides no incentive
to the party in power to adopt a farsighted and consistent policy. Nor does it
venture to embark upon durable projects. A new Ministry which assumes office is
sure to reverse the policy of the defeated Ministry, for it comes in with its own
definite policy and programme.
It may, however, be said that much of the above criticism is true only in countries
with multiple political parties where the lease of life of the cabinet is short and
precarious. Countries, like Great Britain, having dual party system in practice, do
not demonstrate such a state of affairs as dual party system is really the true
basis of parliamentary democracy.
It is sometimes deplored that the Cabinet system divides the country into two
antagonistic sets of men, those who strive their utmost to get things done and
those who do their utmost to obstruct.

The Oppositions under the Cabinet government must oppose tooth and nail all
measures sponsored by the government, irrespective of their practical utility.
Sometimes governmental policy is subjected to such a scathing criticism, that it
proves detrimental to national solidarity and prestige.
When Opposition indiscriminately opposes what the government may say or
propose, it retards the progress of the country and it, also, amounts to national
wastage, both of money and time.
The antagonism between the parties is not confined to the legislature alone.
They keep the country in a spirit of commotion and turmoil. As Bryce puts it, “the
system intensifies the spirit of party and keeps it always on the boil.
Even if there are no important issues of policy before the nation there are always
the offices to be fought for. One party holds them, the other desires them, and
the conflict is unending, for immediately after a defeat the beaten party begins its
campaign to dislodge the victors. It is like the incessant battle described as going
on in the blood vessels between the red corpuscles and the invading microbes.”
But the fact is otherwise. The essential feature of Parliamentary democracy is a
certain degree of moderation among the political parties, or what may be
described as political forbearance. The minority agrees that the majority should
govern and the majority agrees that the minority must criticise.
The Opposition is the prospective government and it understands and observes
the rules of the game, as the majority does. The government so arranges the
parliamentary programme as to give due opportunity to the Opposition to discuss
and criticise its actions. The government even becomes wiser by that criticism
and arrives at a compromise.
This is the essence of discussion and Parliamentary system succeeds par
excellence in this respect. The situation of ruthless opposition prevails only when
extremist and anti-democratic forces gain a substantial membership in the

legislature which they proceed to terrorise and ridicule. But this is not the way of
Parliamentary system.
“Whatever be the form of government,” says Guerin, “a regime is democratic
when the will to social cooperation of its members is stronger and more
spontaneous than its anarchical impulses.”
Parliamentary system recognises and welcomes differences and it provides the
machinery for their expression. But these differences must not go so far as to
make the work of government impossible. If such things are allowed to happen,
as they do in some of the states India, it is the end of parliamentary democracy.
Again, Cabinet system is said to be inefficient because it is a government by
amateurs. The headship of different departments of government is entrusted to
persons who may not be familiar even with the rudiments of administration “A
youth must pass,” as quoted earlier, “an examination in Arithmetic before he can
hold a second class clerkship in the Treasury; but a Chancellor of the Exchequer
may be a middle-aged man of the world who has forgotten what little he ever
learnt about figures at Eton or Oxford, and is innocently anxious to know the
meaning of those little first dots when confronted with Treasury accounts worked
out in decimals.”
Disraeli, while forming a Ministry, offered the Board of Trade to a man who
wanted instead the Local Government Board. “It does not matter,” said Disraeli, “I
suppose you know as much about trade as the first Lord of the Admiralty knows
about ships.”
Dr. Baldev Prakash was the Finance Minister in the Punjab Government, but with
everything to learn about public finance; for the whole of his life Dr. Prakash had
belonged to the medical profession.
The Prime Minister is not concerned in the choice of Ministers with their aptitudes
and knowledge of the departments they have to preside over. His choice is

seriously limited by political considerations, the foremost of which is the
preservation of a stable parliamentary majority.
Hence, the amateur who obtains office is not always a gifted amateur. “Weak
men, incompetents, are sometimes appointed to office or to inappropriate
departments, out of such consideration of popularity, sometimes gained or faded
a decade or more ago, or through the personal esteem or friendship of the Prime
And once in office, the major part of their time is devoted to Parliament and
cabinet meetings, social and other political activities and in nursing their
constituencies. Nor does the brief and precarious tenure of their office leave any
stimulus for them to learn the departmental technicalities. The result is, as the
critics say, that Cabinet government is a government by inefficient who are mere
tools in the hands of their permanent civil servants.
But this is not a correct appreciation of the Parliamentary system. Its essence is
the responsibility of Ministers to the legislature. It is, no doubt, preferable to
appoint a Minister who is well informed about the working of the department over
which he presides. But it does not mean that he should be an expert.
The business of the Minister is not to do the work of the department. He is only to
see that it works properly and consistently with the declared policy of the
government. In fact, there are many advantages if the head of the department is
an amateur.
A layman sees the department as a whole and his appraisal of the problem
requiring solution is entirely different from that of an expert. “The cabinet”,
according to Ramsay MacDonald, “is the bridge linking up the people with the
expert, joining principle to practice. Its function is to transform the message sent
along sensory nerves. It does not keep the departments going; it keeps them
going in a certain direction.”

Another serious difficulty of the Parliamentary system is the ever-growing size of
the cabinet in every country. Cabinets have grown everywhere too large for
prompt and effective discussion and decision.
The huge amount of work to be done by the Cabinet and the tremendous burden
on each Minister departmentally, parliamentary, electorally, and socially leaves
very little margin of time for serious thought on any subject beyond the immediate
Then, participation in international conferences imposes on several Ministers,
particularly on the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Finance Minister,
rather long occasional absences from current duties of administration at home.
All taken together, the period of office of Ministers, as Herman Finer observes, is
a period of practical work, not of reconsideration and survey.
The obvious result is, as the critics point out, a deep and continued reliance on
the administrative services. Bureaucracy under the circumstances, according to
Ramsay Muir, “thrives under the cloak of ministerial responsibility.”
Whatever be the justification of criticism, there is no denying the fact that the
necessity of reducing the size of the cabinet is being felt in every country and in
Britain it was reduced in 1947 to sixteen members only, and so was the size of
Churchill’s Cabinet in 1951.
Anthony Eden continued the practice when he formed his government in May
1955 and Macmillan followed Eden after the latter’s resignation. It is now the
usual norm in Britain and India, too, has followed more or less the same pattern.
Amery has suggested that no cabinet should exceed six or seven ministers. But
this is not a practical number considering vast expansion in the activities of the
State and other political compulsions to a parliamentary system of government.
Parliamentary system, its critics maintain, has degenerated into a party
government in which political power is monopolised by the majority party. So long
as parliamentary majority is assured, it assumes dictatorial powers.

The minority party is completely left out of active participation in the government
and the nation is deprived of the talented persons who might be belonging to the
minority party. Public opinion has no sweep over the policies of the government.
The critics, thus, very often allege that Great Britain practices a form of
“plebiscitary democracy” in which people vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the record of the
government in general but are deprived of any share in the “formulation of the
individual policies.”
The charge of dictatorship of the Cabinet is not quite baseless. But there is a
redeeming feature too. Lowell correctly says, “if the parliamentary system has
made the Cabinet of the day autocratic, it is an autocracy exerted with the utmost
publicity under a constant fire of criticism.” Cabinet government provides its own
safeguards and accountability to the electorate is the primary constitutional
It is argued that the pressure and complexity of the affairs of a modem
government have led to certain changes in the manner of operation of cabinet
government. The cabinet has been regarded as the centre of governmental
coordination and of policymaking, and as being collectively responsible for all
decisions on major issues and approver of all other decisions.
But the seemingly great power of the cabinet and its control over all policy
matters is qualified by three factors. The first is the existence of politically more
powerful individuals within the cabinet who constitute a hierarchy of their own
and try to overlord the cabinet and the various ministries and departments. The
second is the development of a structure of cabinet committees.
These cabinet committees are the real decision-making bodies within the
spheres assigned to them. And above all is the ascendancy of the Prime Minister
to unprecedented heights. He no longer remains primus inter pares. He generally
formulates the policy of the government and often takes decisions without
consulting the whole cabinet.

Ramsay Muir has said that the dictatorship of cabinet in the last resort means the
dictatorship of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister makes and unmakes the
government, shuffles his pack as and when he likes, may advise dissolution of
Parliament and being leader of the party may take disciplinary action against the
members of his party who flout the party whip and do not toe the line of the Prime
But it must not be forgotten that the Prime Minister’s position is bound up with the
party. His prestige, no doubt, is one of the elements that make for the success of
the party. He is also responsible for party cohesion. But without his party the
Prime Minister is nothing. Whatever he is and whatever he can claim to be is due
to what the party has made him.
Once the party disowns him, he meets the fate of Ramsay MacDonald. Within
the cabinet he cannot do that entire he wishes to do. He must listen to and
respect the opinions of his colleagues. It is essential for the Prime Minister to
retain the loyalties of his political friends who owe him a personal as well as party
Laski explains, “The parliamentary system is conducted on the vital hypothesis
that no man is indispensable; and its daily operation is a constant and salutary
remainder to the Prime Minister that his fortune depends upon the recognition of
this truth.”
Finally, Cabinet government is charged with lack of promptness in deciding and
taking immediate action in times of national crisis or emergency. In emergency
promptness and vigour of initiative are essential for success. But a cabinet
consists of a large number of Ministers, which need many minds to be consulted.
A quick and decisive opinion cannot, accordingly, be secured. Moreover, a
cabinet under the parliamentary system with its divided responsibility, open
discussions, and shifting majorities can hardly be expected to take prompt, united
and vigorous decisions.

These objections are also not borne by facts. World War II had fully
demonstrated how cabinet government withstood the test of time. In India, too,
there is cabinet government, both at the Centre and in the states. How
successfully the Central and the state governments grappled with the refugee
and other post-partition problems are now a matter of contemporary history.

The Presidential Form of Government in the
Philippines: A Critique
By Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.
Senator, Republic of the Philippines

I would like to thank the International Idea and the National Autonomous University of
Mexico for kindly inviting me to present a critique of the presidential form of
government based on our experience in the Republic of the Philippines.
Historically, we have had no other form of government than the presidential one that
has governed us since we recovered our independence from the United States of
America in 1946.
Indeed, even before we got back our independence, as a Commonwealth under the
protection of the U.S., from 1935 until 1946, we had a president as the head of the
government and of the State1. Earlier, as our forefathers fought for our freedom as a
nation against the Spain, they also tried to institute a government that was headed
by a president.
Today, we find the presidential form of government hobbled by certain institutional
Tripartite system
Our Constitution mandates that we follow a tripartite system of governance where
the powers of government are distributed among three major branches, namely, the
Executive Department headed by the President; the Legislative Department which
has two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Judiciary on
top of which is the Supreme Court.
The three branches are supposed to be co-equal. And they are supposed to check
one another so that official abuses are curbed and the rights and liberties of the
people are protected.
Weak Institutions
In our experience, however, weak political parties, weak judicial structures and weak
legislatures have all contributed to the emerging phenomenon of an imperial
presidency. This characterization of the presidency as an imperial one simply means
that in the context of the political structure now obtaining in our country, the

president tends to overwhelm the other two co-equal branches, the legislature and
the judiciary.
The weak political parties fail to act as a sieve against the surfacing of mediocre
personalities contending for the presidency. Instead of insuring that only the best and
the brightest should have the opportunity to serve as the president of the nation,
they cater to the passions of the day and abet the election of the person who can
best deliver patronage benefits to them.
The weak parties also produce weak members of the legislature who tend to gratify
the base wishes of their constituents rather than work for the good of the nation.
Dominant Force
Negatively, the cumulative effect of the weaknesses adverted to makes the president
not only primus inter pares among the supposedly co-equal branches of government
but the dominant force in the entire political spectrum of the country.
And positively, the constitutional power of appointment the president has over the
major functionaries of government from the cabinet ministers or secretaries as we
call them back home to the ambassadors, to the officials of constitutional bodies like
the Ombudsman and the Commission on Human Rights, to military officers from the
rank of colonel to the top police officers to the regional directors running government
offices and to the directors of government-owned corporations makes him or her a
superpower in the political firmament of the nation. In a word, the president has lots
of favors to hand out to whoever is willing to bow down to his or her wishes. Under
present circumstances, and in a developing country like ours, sad to say, wheeling
and dealing for personal advantage tend to become the norm to land a government
position rather than the exception.
Since it is the president, for example, who appoints all members of the Judiciary from
the lowest trial court to the Supreme Court, it is not surprising that sometimes the
exercise of judicial power gets tainted by political pressure.
On paper, the legislature is vested with the power to check presidential appointments
but because of the weaknesses earlier adverted to by and large the president gets to
appoint his or her personal supporters to choice positions in the political arm of the
government or even to judicial seats.
The president & legislature
In trying to explain the dynamics of the push and pull of power between the president
and the legislature, we have to clarify that the Republic of the Philippines is a
multiparty democracy under a presidential form of government.
Because the president is the dominant force in the nation's political spectrum, he or
she determines which bloc or coalition of blocs becomes the majority party in the
legislature. Whoever is president, in fact, becomes a magnet that draws lawmakers
from whatever party to his or her political party or coalition which thus becomes the
majority or the ruling party.
The fact that the president has the power to create the majority in the legislature is
bolstered mainly by his or her power over the purse. This is true even if under our

Constitution, it is the legislature that enacts a national budget. The moneys, thus,
appropriated may, however, only be disbursed by authority of the president. In our
case now as opposition members of the Senate, we find the releases of funds for
projects that we recommend difficult to come by. It was not so before the present
Impact of Constitution
To repeat, the Constitution is supposed to limit the powers of the presidency in the
same way that it is expected to regulate the legislature. But because of the flaws or
weaknesses of our institutions, the president has emerged as the more dominant of
the two.
To cite one example: in the past year alone, there had been several attempts to
impeach the president. To no avail. The incumbent was able to subvert the
impeachment process by the use of funds and pressure on weak-kneed and gullible
members of the House.
Another example
Then, there is a constitutional provision that is being manipulated by the President to
suit her ends.
The President is the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of our country and
whenever it becomes necessary, he or she may call out the armed forces to prevent
or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.
In the recent past, the president had called out the armed forces to the capital city of
Manila ostensibly to suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion even if actually
non-existent. And when concerned citizens contest such calls, the judiciary felt
reluctant to censure her move especially when at the time the decision was
forthcoming, the soldiers were made to return to the barracks.
Public administration
The President has full powers to restructure the executive department that under the
Constitution is under her "control and supervision". In general that means that she
may reassign or reduce the personnel of the various cabinet departments and realign
their budgets. The incumbent has even tinkered with the legal functions of certain
offices attached to certain departments by transferring them to other offices.
As a result, public administration in the Republic is prejudiced by the political
maneuverings of the President and her allies.
Bureaucratic professionalism suffers. And public administration, less effective.
In my view, public administration deals mainly with the delivery of basic services to
the people.

By its very nature and considering the vastness of our archipelagic country, public
administration to be effective must not be concentrated in the hands of one person
or office centrally located in Manila but devolved to the regions.
The tendency, however, in the country today is for the delivery especially of major
services to be done only upon orders of the President and her underlings in the
cabinet who hold office in Manila.
Thus, we see much dissatisfaction all over the nation. Poll surveys in the last year
alone show that the President's satisfaction rating has constantly fallen 2.
I suppose that the problems we face in the country today are not merely due to the
presidential form of government. It has also to do with the kind of people that we
elect to be our leaders. Somebody has said that a people deserve the government
they elect.
Nonetheless, because we have an archipelagic country, because we have various
ethnic peoples, because we have a huge Christian population and relatively large
Muslim communities, because we have diverse languages, and because the
presidential form of government does not appear workable in our country, there is an
outcry to try the other viable system of government that some countries find
workable. That is the federal system of government.
There is a lot of obstacles to overcome, objections to address, and questions to
answer regarding the viability of the federal system. But, unless the presidential type
of government that we have in the country would adequately respond to the needs of
the people and in the immediate future, I guess its days are numbered.

Is parliamentary form of government a good
and appropriate way of correcting the system
of Philippine politics
No. The problem is not the system of government that the Philippines has, but the
politicians who occupy positions in the government. It is because of all politicians'
lack of accountability for their actions.
The Philippine system of government was exactly patterned after that of the
American political structure. But ever wonder why there is much less degree of
corruption in the US?. This is in spite of the fact that the two countries have identical
political systems.
A parliamentary form of government is not the solution to the Philippine's political
problems. Thailand has a parliamentary system of government, but still its prime
minister was corrupt and had to be ousted by a military coup. Japan also has a
parliamentary system of government, but a couple of months ago, its prime minister
was forced to resign in disgrace because of corruption charges. The Czech Republic is
yet another example. There are daily bloody street protests calling for its prime
minister to resign because of lying to the people about the true state of the Czech
economy. As of yet, the prime minister has not yielded to pressure and the protests

go on. Indonesia is another country with a parliamentary system. It's former prime
minister (Suharto) was embroiled in massive corruption scandals involving
embezzlement of billions of dollars. Pakistan is another country with a parliamentary
system that is ruled by a dictator (Pervez Musharaf), who is also currently mired in
corruption charges. The country is in turmoil at the moment.
You see, there are just few examples of nations with parliamentary governments.
The fact of the problem is the horrible and rampant corruption in Philippine politics. It
is very clear that every Philippine politician's intention of running for any government
seat is to use his position to enrich himself once elected to office. It is ironic that
every politician spends massively for his political campaigns (that runs in millions
upon millions of pesos), just to get elected to a government post that offers only so
many thousands of pesos in monthly salary. Why?. The answer is very obvious.
Unless every Philippine politician gets rid of this corrupt and selfish mindset, and the
lack of accountability and transparency for his actions, then the Philippines will
continue to go down the abyss. And no system of government, no matter what form
this system would be, will ever work for the benefit of every Filipino.
There are a lot of things to consider,especially here in the Philippines. If you would try
to study the structures of both form of governments (parliamentary and presidential,
which is what we have now), they both have advantages and disadvantages of their
own. So basically, either can be a good form, but it depends mainly on the leaders
and the people itself. But just to give you an idea of how the two forms of
government works, i included here some advantages and disadvantages of both.
A parliamentary system, is distinguished by the executive branch of government
being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed
through a vote of confidence. Hence, there is no clear-cut separation of powers
between the executive and legislative branches, leading to a differing set of checks
and balances compared to those found in a presidential system.
Some believe that it's easier to pass legislation within a parliamentary system. This is
because the executive branch is dependent upon the direct or indirect support of the
legislative branch and often includes members of the legislature. In a presidential
system, the executive is often chosen independently from the legislature. If the
executive and legislature in such a system include members entirely or
predominantly from different political parties, then stalemate can occur. In addition to
quicker legislative action, Parliamentarianism has attractive features for nations that
are ethnically, racially, or ideologically divided. In a unipersonal presidential system,
all executive power is concentrated in the president. In a parliamentary system, with
a collegial executive, power is more divided.
It can also be argued that power is more evenly spread out in the power structure of
parliamentarianism. The premier seldom tends to have as high importance as a ruling
president, and there tends to be a higher focus on voting for a party and its political
ideas than voting for an actual person.
One main criticism of many parliamentary systems is that the head of government is
in almost all cases not directly elected. In a presidential system, the president is
usually chosen directly by the electorate, or by a set of electors directly chosen by
the people, separate from the legislature. However, in a parliamentary system the
prime minister is elected by the legislature, often under the strong influence of the
party leadership. Thus, a party's candidate for the head of government is usually

known before the election, possibly making the election as much about the person as
the party behind him or her.
Another major criticism of the parliamentary system lies precisely in its purported
advantage: that there is no truly independent body to oppose and veto legislation
passed by the parliament, and therefore no substantial check on legislative power.
Conversely, because of the lack of inherent separation of powers, some believe that a
parliamentary system can place too much power in the executive entity, leading to
the feeling that the legislature or judiciary have little scope to administer checks or
balances on the executive. However, most parliamentary systems are bicameral, with
an upper house designed to check the power of the lower (from which the executive
Although it is possible to have a powerful prime minister, as Britain has, or even a
dominant party system, as Japan has, parliamentary systems are also sometimes
unstable. Parliamentary instability is the result of proportional representation,
political culture, and highly polarised electorates.
As a conclusion, some argued for elections at set intervals as a means of insulating
the government from the transient passions of the people, and thereby giving reason
the advantage over passion in the accountability of the government to the people.
The parliamentary system works well in other countries as well as the presidential
system also. Our presidential set up now is quite good and adequate for us. The
congressmen (lower house of congress) represented each district (local
representation or local in scope) will try to pass laws that will be good and needed by
his congressional district. This is good since they came from that place and they
know the needs of their area. Now the senators (upper house of congress) will try to
screen and pass laws that is national in scope. This means that before a law is passed
(including those coming from the lower house), it will be scrutinized by the senators if
it will be good for the whole country not just in one congressional district since the
senators (upper house) objective is national in scope. The parliamentary system does
not have this feature. Also, the Senate is one of the best training ground for future
leaders of our country.
No matter what system we adapted, it is just a system and the systems success
depends on the people since they are the ones running it therefore, they are the ones
responsible also.

Presidential and Parliamentary system: a comparison
Philippines is now facing challenges on what system of government
can make a proggressive country. For you, is it a Parliamentary or a
Presidential system?
Parliamentary system is distinguished by the executive branch of
government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the
parliament often expressed through a vote of confidence. A parliament
is a legislative. The name is derived from the french parliament, the
action of parler (to speak) in parliament is a talk, a discussion, hence a
meeting where people discuss matters of parliamentary government.

The authority is vested in a parliament and there is no clear cut in
separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches,
leading to a lack of the checks and balances found in a presidential
republic. In a parliamentary system, people vote the members of the
parliament and from the members of the parliament they will vote for
their prime minister and the vote of no confidence can be done by the
members of the parliament if they thought that the prime minister is
not capable enough to lead. There are many advantages of a
parliamentary systyem. First is that it is easierand quicker to to pass
legislation with in a parliamentary system. This is because the
executive branch is dependent upon the direct or indirect support of
the legislative branch and often includes members of the legislative.
Second, the World bank study found that parliamentary systems are
associated with lower corruptions. Lastly, parties in parliamentary
system have had much tighter idelogy than in presidential
system.There are also criticism of parliamentarism and the main
criticism of many parliamentary system is that the head of the
government cannot be directly voted by the people. In presidential
system, the presidents is directly chosen by the people , or by a set of
electors directly chosen by the people but in a parliamentary system
the prime minister is elected by the party leadership. There are also
many kinds of parliamentary system like the British Parliament which is
often referred to as the ” Mother of Parliaments”. It is from England and
it is the model form of other paraliamentary system.
Presidential system, also called a congresional system, is a
system of government where the executive branch exists and presides
supports from the legislative. There are many characteristics of a
presidential system of goverment. One is that the president is both the
head of state and the government and he/she has a fixed term of
office. The president has also the power to pardon or commute
sentences of convicted criminals and he/she is directly elected by the
people. The president can be removed from office through the process
of impeachment. There are also criticism in a presidential system like it
is not constitutionally stable that’s why it has tendency towards
authoritarianism. It is also difficult to remove an unsuitable president
from office before his/her term has expired. In a presidential system,
the president usually has special privileges in the enactment of
legislation, namely the possession of a power of veto over legislation of
bills. In the enactment of legislation, the president has the power to
directly propose laws or cast or vote on legislation. The central

principle in presidential system is that the difference between
legislative and executive branches of government. The executive,
legislative and judiciary are performing their own duty and this is the
separation of power but they must check each other to make sure if
the other branches is performing their job properly and this is the
check and balance.
There are many difference between parliamentary and
presidential system and they have their own disadvantages and
advantages. Some of our government officials are pursuing for
presidential to parliament and others are contented. But still the
question is what is the best for our country and for the people? For me,
any system will do as long as it will benefit the people. Any system can
make our life better , the real problem is the character of our
government officials.