Proposals For Genuine Constitutional Reform in The Philippines

Editor’s introduction: With Philippine House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Congressional proposals for constitutional reform falling well short of the wholesale reform required to modernise the governance and economy of The Philippines, Eurasia Future’s director Adam Garrie has formally endorsed the suggestions for meaningful constitutional reform in The Philippines as drafted by Orion Perez. The full proposal can be read in full below

Proposals on how to improve the ConCom Draft (version 2)

(as suggested by Orion Perez Dumdum)

Note: I personally believe that the ConCom Draft ought to be replaced by the PDP-Laban Draft, or even alternatively by the Centrist Proposals Draft (GMA’s 2005 ConCom Draft) or even the People’s Draft. I sincerely believe that the ConCom Draft was rushed and unfortunately, the structures that it set up are generally inferior to the structures proposed by the PDP-Laban Draft, the Centrist Proposals, and the People’s Draft. If there is a need to “salvage” the ConCom Draft, then we can just retain its good parts, but take the best parts of the PDP-Laban, the Centrist Proposals, and even the People’s Draft and use those texts or a combination thereof to replace the deficient portions of the ConCom Draft. I have listed out some suggestions according to a hierarchy of importance: (I) Non-negotiable must-haves, (II) Strong Suggestions, and (III) Optional Suggestions. Below is a summary:

I.      Non-negotiable must-haves:

 

  • Total deletion of all anti-FDI restrictions in the Constitution (like the PDP-Laban Draft, the Centrist Draft, and the People’s Draft)
  • Gradual, phased Asymmetric Federalism (like the PDP-Laban Draft, the Centrist Draft, & People’s Draft)
    • The adoption of an asymmetric form of Federalism in which there is special economic/financial self-sufficiency criteria
    • Change of the 50% arbitrary designation for taxes to be given to the national government and the regions, as the economic secretaries were alarmed by what they felt was an immediate 50% slash in the national
    • Redefining or clarifying exclusive versus Shared responsibilities and powers:

 

  • Adoption of the Parliamentary Structure of Government:
    • Either the adoption of full Parliamentary System at the national and regional levels as laid out in the Centrist Proposals Draft as well as the People’s Draft OR adoption of a transitional Hybrid Parliamentary System as laid out in the PDP-Laban Draft
    • Regions should have clearly-defined parliamentary systems in which there is a Speaker or Chairperson or Presiding Officer of the Regional Assembly who is NOT given the title of “Vice-Governor.”
    • The specific form of parliamentary system debating layout ought to be based on the Westminster Parliamentary format
    • There should be no term limits that prevent performing members of parliament from running for re-election
    • Use 5 year terms, like the PDP-Laban Draft, not the 4 year terms proposed by the ConCom

 

II.        Strong suggestions:

 

  • Removal of the word “natural-born” from the requirements of all elected officials mentioned in the Constitution except for the Head of
  • Removal of the long residency requirement (10 years) for the Head of State
  • Removal of the requirement that candidates for certain positions be college graduates
  • Create the Regional Hierarchy out of the existing Provincial Hierarchies (by aggregating provinces together to form the regions), instead of creating a separate Regional body on top of the
  • Remove Agrarian Reform from the Constitution
  • Make the Head of State (President) have a minimum age of 60
  • Make the Head of State result from a combination of parliamentary nomination and direct elections
  • Temporarily abolish the Senate until the regions are able to properly form themselves from their original constituent provinces and independent cities and all regions have set up their Organic

– The new Senate to be adopted after all regions set up Organic Laws ought to be a fully-appointed, rather than an elected body.

 

  • New Senators in the new Senate must be at least 56 years of age (This is to ensure that only already-accomplished people such as retired experts moving towards senior citizenship become 56 was chosen as this is currently the mandatory retirement age for the AFP and PNP)

 

  • New Senators in the new Senate must be appointed by their respective Regional Assemblies from a pool of accomplished people from their respective regions, including academics, former public servants, national artists,

 

  • There ought to be 5 slots for Senators appointed by the Lower House – jointly selected by the Majority and Minority, and 5 slots for Senators appointed by the President, upon the advice of the Prime (This will allow the Senate to have prominent national figures such as academic experts, retired industrialists, and other retired experts get appointed to the Senate)

 

III.         Optional Suggestions:

  • Senators and former Senators who are at least 60 years of age may be nominated by the Lower House (jointly by Majority and Minority) to become candidates for the ceremonial

 

 

  • Land Ownership: Allow exceptions to the ban on foreign ownership of land (as provided by law)

 

  • Political Dynasties: Modify Section 8 of Article V of the ConCom Draft from limiting only 2 members of the same family to at most 3 (1 at the national, 2 at the regional and local)

 

  • Language Policies: Modify Section 7 of Article XVII of the ConCom Draft by naming Spanish as a “Heritage Language” of lowland Christian Filipinos, and naming Arabic as a “Heritage Language” of Bangsamoro

 

Full explanations and supporting reasons:

 

I.      Non-negotiable must-haves:

 

  • Total deletion of all anti-FDI restrictions in the Constitution (just like the PDP-Laban Draft, as well as the Centrist Proposals and the People’s Draft)

 

  • This is absolutely necessary in order to loudly and clearly announce to the rest of the world that the Philippines is serious and active in trying to attract and bring in as many foreign direct investors as possible. All such anti-FDI restrictions are necessary in order to get businessmen and economists enthusiastically supporting this Constitutional Reform This is the reform that will allow the Philippines to zoom up economically as foreign direct investors immediately flock to the Philippines and create jobs, resulting from the immediate and total lifting of all these anti-FDI and anti-foreigner economic restrictions preventing investments and the practice of professions (which is inherently unfair, given that OFWs practice our professions abroad in our host countries).

 

  • President Duterte had included as part of his campaign promise, the introduction of the business islands concept as well as other expanded forms of special economic zones. Only the total deletion and removal of all anti-FDI & anti-foreigner restrictions will make this campaign promise possible

 

  • Gradual, phased Asymmetric Federalism – either taking inputs from PDP-Laban Draft or the Centrist

 

  • A gradualist approach will lessen the fears and jitters of the economic managers who think that Federalism will be an instantaneously imposed change that will immediately disrupt the budget and financial structure. By emphasizing gradualism, the economic secretaries – Diokno, Pernia, and Dominguez – will better understand that care will be taken to slowly ease into Federalism, as opposed to jumping into

 

  1. The adoption of an asymmetric form of Federalism in which there is special economic/financial self- sufficiency criteria that allows there to be a distinction between Federated Regions (very autonomous, net contributor) versus Federal Territories (semi-autonomous, net recipient of assistance). NCR, being the Capital Region will NOT become a Federated Region, but will instead be kept in perpetuity as a Federal Territory whose revenues will help fund the national government. This is not just an asymmetric distinction between special autonomous regions like the Bangsamoro & Cordillera Regions whose ethno- cultural uniqueness gives their regions a special level of autonomy when compared to the rest of the country’s region’s, but there also ought to be distinctions between regions that are financially self- sufficient versus those that aren’t. Regions that are not yet financially self-sufficient ought to be motivated to work hard to improve their respective economies so that they can graduate into becoming financially self-sufficient regions in order to achieve full autonomous status as Federated

 

  1. A Region that is deemed capable of being self-sufficient, whose tax revenues produced are more than enough to cover the regional and local expenditures of the entire region and its component LGUs must therefore be given “Federated Region” status and enjoy the maximum level of autonomy that befits that region’s economic self-sufficiency.

 

  1. A Region that is not yet able to be self-sufficient, whose tax revenues produced are less than the regional and local expenditures must be given the status of “Federal Territory”, and as a result of its need to receive financial assistance and conditional subsidy transfers, will merely be given semi-autonomy, but will still be under review and supervision by NEDA with the intention of guiding the Federal Territory (except for the NCR) to eventually become a financially and economically self-sufficient Federated

 

  • As mentioned, NCR – being the national capital region – will indefinitely continue to be a Federal Territory as long as it remains to be the As the premier economic engine in the country that owes its pre-eminence to the fact that it is the country’s capital region, it will be responsible for funding a huge part of the country’s Federal (National) functions as well as assisting all the other Federal Territories.

 

  1. If the Bangsamoro and Cordillera Regions are not yet financially self-sufficient, they ought to be given the status of “Special Autonomous Territory” which implies that while they enjoy certain special concessions on culture & identity, they still receive supervision and oversight as regards their economic development as a conditional requirement for their receipt of financial subsidies and funding assistance. The moment they achieve full ecnomic self-sufficiency, they are to be given the status of “Special Federated ” The word “Special” designates them as being slightly different compared to the rest due to their unique entho-cultural identities.

 

  1. Change of the 50% arbitrary designation for taxes to be given to the national government and the regions, as the economic secretaries were alarmed by what they felt was an immediate 50% slash in the national

 

  • The 50% tax provision gives the impression that taxes will first be collected at the national level, and then 50% of those tax revenues will be retained by the national government, while 50% will be allocated to the

 

  • That does not sound like Federalism as it seems to be just Unitarism with a new algorithm/formula for redistributing national tax

 

  • For the system to truly reflect Federalism, the designation for tax splits must be specified not at the national level, but at the regional level, that is to say, that each region will be entitled to 50% of certain specific tax revenues (such as income tax) collected within the region, while the other 50% goes to the Federal (National)

 

  • Here is a suggested text that outlines this newer algorithm: “Each of the Regions – except for the Federal Capital Territory (Metro Manila) – shall be allowed to keep a share of at most fifty percent (50%) of all collected income taxes, excise taxes, value added tax, and customs duties collected within each “

 

  • The reason why Metro Manila is made different from the rest of the Regions is because its status as the Federal Capital Territory has long given it undue advantage over the rest of the country, making it the de facto location for modern industries and making it the site of corporate headquarters in the Philippines. As such, it already produces an inordinate amount of tax revenues compared to the rest of the This requires that the Federal Capital Territory’s tax revenues be used to fund a large percentage of the national budget.

 

  • Regions must be given the ability to set up lower tax rates (for certain taxes that are to be collected at both the national and the regional level: such as personal income tax and corporate tax) than what is specified at the federal (national) level. If the maximum income tax rate set at the national level is 10% of a person’s salary, regions may set the same 10% income tax rate (giving people within such regions a total of a 20% income tax rate), but they may also decide to lower the tax rate at the regional level to, say, 5%, so that the total maximum income tax rate is 15% – 10% Federal, and 5% Regional. This flexibility in allowing regions to set lower tax rates allows regions to attract investors, which benefits the region’s citizens as more jobs will be created within such

 

c)       Redefining or clarifying exclusive versus Shared responsibilities and powers:

 

  • Wherever responsibility is exclusive for a particular function, funding must be 100% given to the level that has full exclusive powers over that In the case of National Defense, 100% funding must go to the Federal (National) Government. If trash collection is exclusively at the LGU level, then the funding must be 100% given to the LGU level for that function.

 

  • Wherever responsibility is shared for a particular function, it is understood that the higher-level government unit (ex: the Federal Government) has standards-setting policy making and supervisory or oversight responsibilities and powers over the lower level, but actual implementation is executed by the lower level (ex: the Regional Government). Depending on the manpower and cost requirements, it may be that there is a 15% versus 85% split or a 20% versus 80% split between the higher level that sets and monitors standards and the lower level that executes and delivers the

 

3)   Adoption of the Parliamentary Structure of Government:

 

  • Either the adoption of full Parliamentary System at the national and regional levels as laid out in the Centrist Proposals Draft as well as the People’s Draft OR Adoption of a transitional Hybrid Parliamentary System or “Semi-Presidential System” as laid out in the PDP-Laban Draft, which will allow us to smoothly transition into a Parliamentary System by first having a relatively active Head of State during the crucial initial stages in which the provinces are joining together into regions and forming their government structures.

 

(b)         Regions should have clearly-defined parliamentary systems in which there is a Speaker or Chairperson or Presiding Officer of the Regional Assembly who is NOT given the title of “Vice- Governor.”

 

For us to have a real Parliamentary System in which the Head of the Regional Government is fully-answerable to the Regional Assembly, this Head of the Regional Government must not be given the title “Governor”, and instead ought to be given the title of Regional Chief Minister, and will be required to be grilled by the Opposition within the Regional Assembly.

 

– Moreover, the Regional Chief Minister will be procedurally-subordinate to the Speaker/ Chairperson/ Presiding Officer within the Regional Assembly, which is why it would not be wise to use “Governor” as the title for the Head of Regional Government and “Vice-Governor” for the Presiding Officer of the Regional Assembly. For the parliamentary system to function properly at the regional level, the “Speaker” or Presiding Officer must – within the debating chamber of the regional assembly – be hierarchically superior to the Head of Regional Government

 

(Sadly, the ConCom Draft seems to insulate the Regional Head of Government – the Governor – from parliamentary scrutiny, either that or it makes it awkward that the Vice Governor is the presiding officer who may sometimes have to censure the Governor who is a mere member of the regional assembly. In Parliamentary Systems abroad such as in Australia and New Zealand, it has happened many times that the Speaker has forced the Prime Minister to leave the chambers as a punishment for certain offenses within the parliamentary session, showing how the Prime Minister – as a mere member of parliament – must abide by the rulings and penalties imposed by the Speaker.)

 

(c)          The specific form of parliamentary system debating layout ought to be based on the Westminster Parliamentary format

 

  • In this format, the Majority and the Minority actively face-off against each other in an elongated rectangular or horse shoe shaped debating This format can hasten the formation of strong parties as there is a clear delineation of which parties are for or against certain propositions.

 

(d)         There should be no term limits that prevent competent and performing members of parliament from running for re-election indefinitely.

 

  • It is this continuity that allows greater consistency and the development of more solid political party This is a parliamentary system in which the workload of members of parliament is naturally much heavier than that of regular congressmen. Natural attrition will cause politicians who are tired and exhausted to not seek re-election when they feel they can no longer handle the heavy workload of the parliamentary system. On the other hand, those high- achiever people who can easily excel and handle such a workload should be allowed to stay on.

 

(e)         Use 5 year terms, like the PDP-Laban Draft, not the 4 year terms proposed by the ConCom

 

  • The majority of well-functioning parliamentary systems around the world use 5 year-terms, allowing Prime Ministers and their majority blocs to think long-term, permitting them to sometimes make painful decisions that may be unpopular in the short term but may allow the

 

public enough time to realize that the decisions were right, and in the end, allow the electorate to still support the party as opposed to immediately ditching them as a result of a necessary but unpopular move in the short term.

 

  • 3 years is way too short and it has caused Australia to end up having frequent changes in their Prime Ministers as the shortness of a 3 year term causes the ruling parties to be easily panicked by sudden changes in opinion polls and survey 5 years is just right and allows for greater stability.

 

–  The Adoption of a Parliamentary System or a transitional Hybrid Parliamentary (Semi-Presidential) System solves so many of the problems of our current dysfunctional Presidential System.

 

  • The problem of celebrity politics and our fragmented and chaotic political parties will go away and allow for the development of more disciplined and stronger political parties. Dynasties – whose advantage lies in enjoying family-based name-recall – tend to be less in parliamentary systems.

 

  • The issue of having incompetent politicians also gets reduced as the Parliamentary System immediately raises competence requirements as the workload of members of parliament suddenly triples at the very

 

  • Corruption is observed to be much less in parliamentary systems compared to presidential systems as there is always a Shadow Cabinet composed of senior members of the Opposition that actively scrutinizes and watches over each and every move made by the Government’s Cabinet Ministers, having direct “FOI-like” access to all documents of each

 

–  More and more Filipinos actually prefer the Parliamentary System and reject the Presidential System

 

  • Contrary to the opinion of the majority of the older members of the ConCom who voted for the Presidential System at the national level because they felt that “Filipinos are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary System” and that “Filipinos prefer the Presidential System”, in reality, SOCIAL MEDIA and the Internet have changed Filipinos’

 

  • More and more Filipinos have gotten educated about the objective superiority of the Parliamentary System and are fully-aware of the flaws of the Presidential It would be a fatal mistake to continue insisting on the retention of the Presidential System at the national level all because of an erroneous assumption that “Filipinos are unfamiliar with the Parliamentary System and prefer the Presidential System.”

 

  • Social Media has changed this and in many social media surveys, the majority of respondents overwhelmingly reject the Presidential System and prefer the adoption of the Parliamentary System.

 

II.        Strong suggestions:

 

  • Removal of the word “natural-born” from the requirements of all elected officials mentioned in the Constitution except for the Head of

 

  • The Philippines is a country with a huge Diaspora. Millions of Filipinos live and work abroad, either as OFWs or as emigres. Chances are high that numerous Filipinos who due to economic circumstances had to leave the Philippines to migrate abroad have given up their Filipino citizenship and their children were born abroad as foreign citizens prior to the dual citizenship The insistence upon having elected positions reserved solely for “natural-born citizens” totally removes the chances that the Philippines can partake of the expertise, knowledge, and abilities of Filipinos from the Diaspora who have returned to the Philippines to make the Philippines their home and have acquired (or “reacquired”) Filipino citizenship.

 

  • The Philippines must open itself to allowing Filipinos from the Diaspora, including Filipinos born and raised abroad who only recently acquired citizenship to be able to contribute their knowledge and skills as elected officials. Moreover, there are a number of naturalized Filipinos who are patriotic contributors to the country, yet the Constitution prevents them from serving as elected officials. Sadly, it is because the Philippines has prevented people with different perspectives and limits itself only to supposedly “homegrown Filipinos” that the general quality of our politicians has been left wanting. Removing the requirement for “natural-born” can do so much to raise the quality of our country’s elected officials, allowing Filipinos with a much more globalist mindset and perspective to share their more cosmopolitan insights and prevent the emergence of an insular-minded class of

 

 

2)   Removal of the long residency requirement for the Head of State position.

 

  • Under the 1987 Constitution, to become President of the Philippines, the candidate must have lived in the Philippines for a period of no less than 10 years. This ought to be removed. In this day and age, accomplished Filipinos who have served in international capacities such as professors in international universities, or have worked as executives in international corporations, or institutions such as the World Bank, or United Nations, will be totally prevented from becoming the Head of The Head of State – under the suggestion that we shift to the Parliamentary System or at the very least to a Hybrid Parliamentary or Semi-Presidential System – will become largely ceremonial. What matters more is having a respectable person such as a world-renowned Filipino academic or scientist, etc take up the ceremonial position. We need to open the position to people who are of international caliber which will include Filipinos who have had to live abroad in order to take up such international posts.

 

  • Much has been talked about the quality of the scholarship, intellect, and cosmopolitan exposure of Filipino Ilustrados like Rizal, Antonio Luna, etc who had spent time in Europe in contrast to the slightly more insular and parochial mindsets of leaders like Aguinaldo & Bonifacio. Under the current ConCom Draft which maintains the 10 year residency requirement to run for President, returnees like Rizal and Antonio Luna would have been barred from becoming president, and we would be severely limited only to people like Aguinaldo, who sadly had certain insecurities that led to the elimination of rivals whom they felt to be

 

  • Even if it is my suggestion that we shift to a Parliamentary System, thus making the President a mostly ceremonial role, the Philippines would greatly benefit from allowing Filipinos who had previously served abroad recently to take on the role of President. Requiring 10 years is far too long a residency requirement, given that even Filipinos based abroad never really lose touch of what it is to be Filipino, and technology today allows Filipinos abroad to keep abreast about what is going on in the Philippines. Cheaper air travel also allows overseas Filipinos to regularly come home and

 

3)   Removal of the requirement that candidates for certain positions be college graduates

 

  • Requiring that the candidate for any elected office be a college graduate is inherently undemocratic and non-inclusive. It will unfortunately prevent self-made, self-taught achievers from running. The late Blas Ople and even former Senator Serge Osmeña never earned college degrees, yet this did not prevent them from being competent public servants. Setting up a requirement that candidates be college graduates is highly non-inclusive and discriminatory against self-made individuals who may have been

 

unfortunate enough to have been born poor and were thus unable to take-up or finish university education but made up for this deficiency and achieved success in some other way.

 

  • While it is understood that such a requirement was suggested in order to ensure the supposed “quality of elected officials”, the fact that the parliamentary system is being proposed to be both the regional and national system of government will naturally weed out incompetents and ensure that the most competent politicians will emerge on

 

4)   Create the Regional Hierarchy out of the existing Provincial Hierarchies, instead of creating a separate Regional body on top of the Provinces.

 

  • Instead of adding a separate Regional Entity on top of the Provincial Governments, aggregate the Provincial Assemblies and consolidate their Governments together to form the new Regional Assembly and Regional This way, instead of creating a 4-tier model (Federal-Regional-Provincial-LGU), we would maintain a 3-tier model (Federal-Regional-LGU).

 

  • This would prevent the creation of extra costs and added bureaucracy that result from having additional personnel and an additional layer on top of the existing provincial Since provinces will no longer be as important in actual decision-making and instead it will be the regions at which major decisions will have to be made, it makes more sense to convert all provincial elected officials into members of parliament, and they will all be joined together at the regional level.

 

  • Much of the bloated financial estimates on the cost of shifting to Federalism results from the assumption that there will be the creation of a separate additional Regional layer over and above the existing Provincial Layer, when the maintenance of the Provincial Layer is a redundancy that adds an additional bureaucratic layer and extra personnel costs when most decision-making under the proposed Federalist structure is actually meant to be done at the regional level. As such, it makes more sense to just convert the provincial elected posts (Provincial Governor and Vice Governor and Provincial Board members) into members of parliament who will all serve at the Regional

 

  • At the Regional Level, it makes sense to create Regional Minister roles dedicated to each province which will allow for the regional ruling party to have a member from each province looking into the economic development of their respective

 

5)   Remove Agrarian Reform from the Constitution

 

  • Agrarian Reform is responsible for destroying Philippine Agriculture as it does not promote greater efficiencies of scale in which we could produce efficient agricultural produce and instead promotes small- scale subsistence-farming in tiny plots of

 

  • We complain that our agriculture is inefficient and cannot produce the same scale that other ASEAN members like Thailand can, but we forget that it was Agrarian Reform destroyed our agricultural efficiency because of misguided

 

6)   Make the Head of State (President) have a minimum age of 60

 

  • Connected to my suggestion that we adopt a parliamentary system or a semi-presidential system with a much more active parliament and Prime Minister, thereby making the President a mostly ceremonial and symbolic unifying figure, it would greatly enhance the prestige of the Head of State if this position were to be limited only to senior citizens, preferably retired and already accomplished Filipinos, to contrast with the more active and aggressive nature of parliament. This would make the ceremonial President a much more “moderating” and more unifying

 

7)   Make the Head of State result from a combination of parliamentary nomination and direct elections

 

  • Most Parliamentary Republics around the world have a Head of State who is appointed as opposed to elected at This allows the ceremonial President to be a mostly non-partisan unifying figure as Head of State. Such appointment allows countries to end up having highly respected retired accomplished citizens emerge as a respected unifying national figure as Head of State, such as the well-respected late

 

former President of India, President APJ Abdul Kalam who was a former rocket scientist who developed India’s missile defense system.

 

  • But since Filipinos would presumably prefer to elect their Head of State, we could create a combination of parliamentary appointment (aka “nomination”) and nationwide

 

  • As such, the Federal Assembly (national parliament) will have the majority and minority blocs jointly agree to field two candidates who are at least 60 years old, and are seen by both sides to be unifying “elder statesmen” or national figures of great prominence such as national artists, national scientists, After both majority and minority jointly agree to nominate these two candidates, both candidates are endorsed for a national election. Campaigns for BOTH will be conducted by the State, so as to impoverish the candidates by forcing them to have to conduct their own campaigns. It will be a simple campaign: Campaign posters will campaign for BOTH candidates, asking the public to choose which of the two candidates they prefer. On election day, all Filipinos vote for the President. The winning candidate becomes the ceremonial President, while the losing candidate automatically becomes ceremonial Vice- President. Both are – in essence – winners, and they will have emerged as a result of a largely non- partisan exercise. This will make it easier for both the ceremonial President and Vice-President to be mostly non-partisan and unifying figures as neither will be identified with any political party especially since both of them were jointly nominated by both the Majority (Government) and the Minority (Opposition) blocs.

 

8)   Temporarily abolish the Senate until the regions are able to properly form themselves from their original constituent provinces and independent cities and all regions have set up their Organic Laws. The New Senate to be set up must be an appointed body.

 

  • This would entail allowing remaining Senators with terms that have not yet expired to continue serving their unfinished terms, but after which, elections to the Senate will be temporarily suspended until such time that the regions have not yet set up their respective organic

 

  • I personally have arrived at the conclusion based on observation of numerous countries with upper houses that it would be best if the Senate were to be made a much more deliberative and consultative assembly which represents expertise and knowledge as opposed to representing partisan interests that actively engage in grandstanding and all sorts of publicity stunts. Sadly, Senates and upper houses become highly partisan and political when the Senators (members of the upper house) must run for office, especially if – like the Philippines – the Senate is viewed as a kind of stepping stone or launch-pad for higher

 

Because of this, it would be better if the new Senate – once it is established after all regions have set up their Organic Laws – takes on the following characteristics:

 

  • Senators must be at least 56 years of age (This is to ensure that only already-accomplished people moving towards senior citizenship become Senators. 56 was chosen as this is the mandatory age of retirement for the AFP and PNP)

 

  • Senators must be appointed by their respective Regional Assemblies from a pool of accomplished experts from their respective regions, including academics, former public servants, national artists,

 

  • There ought to be 5 slots for Senators appointed by the Lower House – jointly selected by the Majority and Minority, and 5 slots for Senators appointed by the President, upon the advice of the Prime (This will allow the Senate to have prominent national figures such as academic experts, retired industrialists, former public servants, national artists, national scientists, and other retired experts get appointed to the Senate)

 

(d)   Senators and former Senators who are at least 60 years of age may be nominated by the Lower House (jointly by Majority and Minority) to become candidates for the ceremonial President.

 

  • To be honest, there is a very strong sentiment on the part of many ordinary Filipinos on wanting to permanently abolish the Senate. In this day and age of social media and quick internet feedback, many online surveys conducted have revealed that the vast majority of netizens do not see the need for a Senate, particularly if this Senate were to be composed of politicians who have to actively campaign and fight it out in elections – even regional ones. It becomes extremely expensive and partisan. It is for this reason that any decision to maintain a Senate may need to be accompanied by a change from having elected Senators using the Senate as a sort of launch pad to the Presidency like how it is used in the USA and in the Philippines, to either totally abolishing the Senate (the preference of many Filipinos) or having a purely appointed Senate composed of retired senior citizens or soon-to-be senior

 

  • To wit, there are only three countries in the world that are known to maintain fully-elected upper houses: (1) the USA, (2) Australia, and (3) the Philippines. The first two have sub-nationally-elected Senators occupying their national Senates, as both the USA and Australia have their Senators elected by State. The Philippines is unique in having the worst Senate system in the world, where candidates jostle for 12 limited national slots in a national popularity contest every election cycle, where each Senator is seen as a kind of “mini-President.” All other countries in the world have decided that they want their Upper Houses to act as reservoirs of knowledge & expertise, as opposed to being extended political chambers, by having fully-appointed Upper Houses or Upper Houses with members appointed by regional legislatures, where the members are taken from among retired prominent experts who would normally not participate in elections and engage in the highly political exercise of

 

  • The Senate must not be used as a launch pad for higher office (although in my proposal, it is possible that members of the Senate may be nominated to become either or both of the 2 candidates for the mostly ceremonial post of President). Instead, the Senate acts as a “holding area” for former public servants, distinguished civil servants, former military or police leaders, and renowned and accomplished retired experts, where their expertise may be called upon to aid in reviewing and giving suggestions to legislation emanating from the lower As opposed to seeing it as a launch pad, the Senate ought to be seen more as a “hospice.” This is where retired prominent national figures go once they retire.

 

III.         Optional Suggestions:

 

  • Land ownership: Allow exceptions to the ban on foreign ownership of land:

 

  • Instead of a total ban on land ownership by foreigners, change it to a statement where “Land and Real Property is to be reserved to Filipino Citizens, with a few minor exceptions for specially-qualified non- Filipinos as may be provided by ”

 

  • This should make it possible for foreigners who are married to Filipino citizens or have children who are Filipino citizens to buy land of a reasonable size for RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES: Such lots of land could at of a maximum size for a big enough home (like a big Forbes Park mansion, but NOT tracts of land).

 

  • This should also make it possible for businessmen who invest substantially in the Philippines and create at least X number of jobs for Filipinos to be able to own decent residential

 

  • Legislation will specify the limit to the number of properties and the sizes of each

 

2)   Political Dynasties: Modify Section 8 of Article V of the ConCom Draft from limiting only 2 members of the same family to at most 3 (1 at the national, 2 at the regional and local)

 

  • The adoption of a Parliamentary System by itself already drastically changes the dynamics of politics from one of popularity and name-recall to one of party platform, ideology, and merit and By itself, it already sets up much more challenging parameters that increases the workload of a normal Congressman under the current Presidential System by a factor of at least 3 times when a Congressman is converted into a Member of Parliament under a Parliamentary System. This very challenging nature of the newer system tends to more easily weed out slackers and non-performers and serves as a means of quality control.

 

  • Our obsession with the problem of political dynasties is the result of our country’s use of the Presidential System and the ease with which incompetent celebrity candidates easily get elected to public office on the basis of their popularity or their membership within dynastic political families who enjoy name-recall among their constituents. In truth, dynasties per se are not the problem: incompetence is. The adoption of the Parliamentary System will make sure to weed out incompetent people from the ranks, and since Parliamentary Systems are inherently less based on name-recall and are much more dependent on party-based dynamics & meritocracy (which naturally develop within parliamentary systems), the problem of dynasties generally lessens when a parliamentary system is adopted.

 

  • Limiting political families from fielding more than 2 members at different levels is a little too much, considering that the adoption of the Parliamentary System will already do much to lessen dynastic politics. By increasing the limit from 2 to 3 family members – 1 at the national level and 2 at the regional and local levels, enough flexibility is given to families who may have an abundance of members who are politically-savvy and competent.

 

  • In my proposal, the national level consists purely of the lower house of Parliament (including positions for proportional representation), since I propose that the Senate (once it is established after all regions have set up their organic laws and have formed their regional governments) will have Senators who are to be appointed by their respective regional legislatures as opposed to politicians running for the The posts of President and Vice-President are largely to be considered appointed posts with a national election component that merely seeks to determine which of the two candidates nominated will take the role of President and which one will take the role of VP.

 

3)   Language Policy: Modify Section 7 of Article XVII of the ConCom Draft by naming Spanish as a “Heritage Language” of lowland Christian Filipinos, and naming Arabic as a “Heritage Language” of Bangsamoro Filipinos.

 

  • The Philippines used to have Spanish as an official This allowed the Philippines to be included in the Family of Spanish-speaking countries including Spain, Hispano-American countries, plus Equatorial Guinea.

 

  • While it may no longer make sense for the Philippines to make Spanish an official language as hardly any Filipinos today except for a very select few people from older generations still use the language as an everyday language of communication, by giving Spanish a special designation as a “Heritage Language”, the Philippines will be making a gesture that constitutionally-acknowledges our links and historical ties to Spain and the rest of the Spanish-speaking

 

  • This link with other Spanish-speaking countries is an extremely important one with major diplomatic implications. In World War II, when Mexico joined the war on the Allied side after one of their oil tankers was sunk by the Germans, the Mexican president later decided not to fight in the European Theater against the Germans even if their reason for joining the war was because of the Germans. They felt that the Allies were strong enough in Europe, with the USA, Britain, the Free French Forces of De Gaulle, and the Russians all fighting against and defeating the Germans. The Mexicans thus felt a more urgent need to join the Pacific Theater against the Japanese because the Mexicans were more concerned about helping to liberate the Philippines, which they considered to be their “brother-country” on the basis of the Philippines being a fellow “former colony of Spain” and Mexico’s blood brother as a former member of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (based in Mexico).

 

  • Strengthening and reestablishing our links with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world by constitutionally-recognizing Spanish as a “Heritage Language” can work wonders as Spanish-speaking countries can open avenues such as scholarship opportunities for some of our gifted students, and can strengthen business, trade, and diplomatic

 

  • Now that the Philippines is joining in with China’s “One Belt, One Road Initiative”, we can reestablish our place in the Pacific Trade as the link between Latin America and the rest of Asia, just like we once were the Asian conduit to the other side of the Pacific – Hispano-America – via the Galleon In fact, today, a synergy exists between the Philippines and Panama as they are one of the world’s largest providers of flags of convenience for international vessels, while the Philippines is one of the world’s largest providers of maritime manpower.

 

  • In international diplomatic arenas, if the Philippines constitutionally-recognizes Spanish as a “Heritage Language”, it is a gesture that can very well cause the Spanish-speaking countries of the world to have a tendency to side with and support the Philippines when it needs help in getting votes for resolutions that favor the

 

  • As for the case of Arabic, giving it “Heritage Language” status gives due recognition to the Bangsamoro Filipinos and at the same time may signal to Arab and even Muslim countries that the Philippines values and respects its Muslim population. Again, this gesture may translate into positive results in diplomacy, trade, and other aspects of international

 

  • Unlike giving “Official Language” status to a language which may have implications such as requiring that the state bureaucracy have enough competent employees that may converse in said language and thus have cost implications, merely giving “Heritage Language” status in the Constitution is a gesture that essentially costs nothing and merely signals to lowland Christian Filipinos that Spanish is the preferred foreign language to learn, while among Bangsamoro Filipinos, Arabic is the preferred foreign language to learn.

 

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