In arguments regarding constitutional reform (aka charter change) in The Philippines, those opposed to a shift to a federal-parliamentary system that eliminates constitutional restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI), typically deploy the following negative arguments:
1. Filipinos will never adapt to a new system
2. Some regions are too poor for federalism
3. How will people know how to vote in parliamentary elections
4. The economy is good enough as it is without a great deal of FDI
5. The country is too corrupt for any change to be meaningful
These arguments essentially boil down to a total lack of confidence in the Filipino people. If one genuinely had such a lack of confidence in the people of a nation so as to favour a less democratic system that happens to be tied to a systematically insufficient economic model, one ought to not only oppose reform but one ought to seek an abolition of democracy itself and return to an age of monarchical power.
After all, the logical conclusion of any argument which is based on the fact that ordinary people are too stupid to participate in a fully democratic system is an argument against democracy itself. But because arguing to abolish democracy sounds extreme, those who have no respect for the Filipino people instead proffer a watered down version of the same argument.
Thus, one is left not with a system in which a divinely ordained monarch reigns supreme but instead where irritating idiots with degrees, corrupt rich oligarchs and vacuous celebrities rule over the common people in a political system whose deadlock and inherent contradictions in the power structure render voter participation almost redundant.
The very idea that the same population should vote separately for a House of Representatives, Senate, Vice President and President who in theory and often in practice are all completely at odds with one another, is an insult to the intelligence of the people. The people can only have one majoritarian political opinion at any one given time. As this is the case, why should this united position among the population be exploited by a needlessly obtuse system of governance that producers four different results from one single democratic mandate? The answer is that such a system is inherently anti-democratic and wholly illogical. It would be like asking “what is 1+1?” four different times and being satisfied with four completely different answers.
Beyond this, undemocratic restrictions on who can run for office have led to an out of touch academic elite acting as idols to be worshipped by a people who have been browbeaten into thinking that they are inferior to someone with a degree. The truth is that Filipino academics are by international standards, not very intelligent at all. Most are parochial, bitter, neo-colonial in their mentality, closed minded, self-obsessed and totally detached from the basic concept of politics as a tool for problem solving for the benefit of the people rather than the elite. This is to say nothing of self-interested and lazy oligarchs or celebrities who achieved political power on the same basis through which one wins a karaoke contest.
The entire political system in The Philippines stinks from top to bottom. This is the case because of its inbuilt deadlock, its discrimination against the majority of Filipinos when it comes to entering politics, its lack of transparency, the lethargic pace at which it moves, its Imperial Manila-centric style of law making and because of its needless expense. Many OFWs who live in countries with more modern political systems can attest to these facts. However, because mass media in The Philippines is largely controlled by oligarchs who stand to benefit from a system that entrenches their wealth through a lack of genuine economic liberty, many Filipinos have little exposure to how politics works elsewhere.
As a result, ordinary Filipinos have been shafted – they have been short changed and they have been left with a sense of hopelessness which leads them to think that all hope of reform is impossible. This simply is not the case for one simple reason: ordinary Filipinos are much better people than their leaders. This for example is why Rodrigo Duterte remains popular. Duterte was something of a stroke of luck insofar as a good man made it to the top in a very poor system. And yet he remains a breath of fresh air for those who are tired of the elites, tired of the oligarchs, tired of the snobs, tired of the professional liars and tired of the foreign controlled puppets.
If ordinary people are better than the elites in so far as they are more honest, patriotic, pragmatic and are better problem solvers, it would benefit The Philippines greatly to adopt a political system that allows ordinary people to rise to the top on the basis of meritocracy. This is vastly more democratic than a system where the titled and stupid rule over ordinary people whose greatest asset is as it always has been, common sense.
So finally, one must ask: does anyone actually think that the Philippine political system is good? This is an important question because thus far, the only answers that have been forthcoming are those of defeatism, pessimism and hopelessness. These aren’t exactly strong arguments in favour of the status quo.