Monday, August 18, 2014

Does it take Transparency and Vigilance, for them to tango?



YELPED and whispered all over town are these recent interesting news about some/many administration people’s growing enthusiasm for the sudden bright idea of trying to quickly change the charter, better known in the media under the appellative of Charter Change (or Cha-Cha).
     The goal, unabashedly intimated, is to give the President a chance to run for a second term, currently an unconstitutional undertaking.

Photo borrowed from http://www.rappler.com/nation/66171-aquino-open-charter-change
     Incidentally, there are also these two interlinked announced upcoming events. One is the August 23 multi-sector “people’s congress” in Cebu City backed by the Catholic Church that hopes to launch on the same day the People’s Initiative Against the Pork Barrel (or PIAP), an initiative that would criminalize pork barrel fund creation and spending (and render as suspect certain items in the current budget plan for 2015). Then there’s the August 25-scheduled rally against the continuing pork barrel system (this will likewise commemorate the Million People March, one year to this day, as well as formally bring the PIAP signature campaign to Luzon).
     The initiative is a product of the awakened awareness in the Filipino psyche of the people’s right and privilege to be participants in government care of that long-hidden direct democracy instrument lurking behind Article XVII, Section 2, of the Constitution, which instrument was enabled by Republic Act 6735 (The Initiative and Referendum Act of 1987-1989) that had likewise hitherto been a sleeping/unused law.
     By this awakened direct-democratic awareness, therefore, some quarters fear that the charter change being cooked by the Aquino government will also be used to totally overhaul the 1987 Constitution, which could possibly result in the removal of the direct-democracy clause that the political elite in Congress will presumably do anything to be rid of to consequently keep its grip on discretionary funds and keep the people and the Supreme Court (which recently rendered such funds as unconstitutional) out of the picture and the ball game.
     But, should that happen, … well, …  wouldn’t the Marxists triumph and feel vindicated in their belief that only armed struggle and subversion can truly wrest abuse away from the management of the political elite and place justice in the hands of the people? They’d say, “see? We told you so. Since the political elite will never ever allow the people to muster power for change, a change that the political elite in our fake democracy fears will tear their access to privileges upon the country’s coffers away from them, the only way to achieve change then is by subverting their respective existences. Direct democracy, or true democracy (demos people, kratos power), will never be allowed to happen by the sublime royal class that rules our, actually, plutocratic state.”

STILL and all, I remain armed (not with a gun but) with the hope that there are still ruling-party elements today 1.) true to their Liberal tag as social liberals (at least in their hearts) and 2.) an ocean away in spirit from their neoliberal, corporate liberal, interest-group liberal and limousine liberal peers, and thus might perhaps to remember that RA 6735 used to be not an anti-Noynoy Aquino administration vehicle but a Liberal Party cause (after all, it was co-authored by that late LP stalwart, Neptali Gonzales, wasn’t it?). In short, they just might rally for more social liberal influence in the process of governance at MalacaƱang as this governance develops in the ticking present. Leni Robredo, for one, is an advocate of participatory budgeting, albeit her bill on this issue is absent the Porto Alegre model’s requirement of electing the municipal district delegates. (The Porto Alegre participatory budgeting model with elected, instead of merely appointed by someone or by some committee, delegates is crucial to avoiding participatory budgeting’s being used again as just another Janet Lim-Napoles-scam-like instrument for the corrupt among the political elite. A frown on the absence of that requirement was made manifest upon the curious program of DILG Secretary and presidential aspirant Mar Roxas, which was porkishly called Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process, when the existence of that “process” of disbursing lump sums started to be known in the media.)
     Isn’t it ironic that one of the lawyers defending the impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona during his trial, Jose M. Roy III, is now one of the voices rallying—behind former Chief Justice Reynato Puno—for the necessity and timely triumph of the people’s empowerment through the People’s Initiative instrument? Ironic, in the sense that he was then defending a Justice believed by many to be a puppet of the former Macapagal-Arroyo royalist gang but now seems to have the people as his client, whilst the Liberal Party of President Aquino’s allegedly anti-corruption “Straight Path” governance is now being accused by the people of scattering an abundance of pork barrels (for his political elite base) as well as of rigging biddings and protecting tax evading companies that supported the party’s campaign.
     But let’s go back to the ruling-party social liberals (Neptali Gonzales’ ideological children) currently trying to maintain influence in the party against the influence of their corporate-liberal party mates. And I’d say, should charter change win the day anytime this year and any amount of Million People Marches gets frustrated and produces nothing, then perhaps all the social liberal faction can do (with the people behind them) is offer the following title and articles for incorporation into the new charter to counter the corporate liberals’ likely wish to remove the people’s initiative clause in the presently-existing constitution. The title and articles below are adaptations of a title and articles from the Swiss Constitution, which some would protest against for being Swiss, but must everything in our Constitution be copied from the texts of American political elitism? The text are from http://www.admin.ch/ch/e/rs/1/101.en.pdf, with my adaptations for possible Philippine use:

Title 4: The People and the Regions

Chapter 1: General Provisions

Art. 136 Political rights

1 All Filipino citizens over the age of eighteen, unless they lack legal capacity due to mental illness or mental incapacity, have political rights in national matters. All citizens have the same political rights and duties.

2 They may participate in elections to the National Parliament and in national popular votes, and launch or sign popular initiatives and requests for referendums in national matters.

Art. 137 Political parties
The political parties shall contribute to forming the opinion and will of the People.

Chapter 2: Initiative and Referendum

Art. 138 Popular initiative requesting the complete revision of the Constitution

1 Any 1,250,000 persons eligible to vote may within 18 months of the official publication of their initiative propose a complete revision of the Constitution.

2 This proposal must be submitted to a vote of the People.

Art. 139 Popular initiative requesting a partial revision of the Constitution in specific terms

1 Any 1,250,000 persons eligible to vote may within 18 months of the official publication of their initiative request a partial revision of the Constitution.

2 A popular initiative for the partial revision of the Constitution may take the form of a general proposal or of a specific draft of the provisions proposed.

3 If the initiative fails to comply with the requirements of consistency of form, and of subject matter, or if it infringes mandatory provisions of international law, the National Parliament shall declare it to be invalid in whole or in part.

4 If the National Parliament is in agreement with an initiative in the form of a general proposal, it shall draft the partial revision on the basis of the initiative and submit it to the vote of the People and the Regions. If the National Parliament rejects the initiative, it shall submit it to a vote of the People; the People shall decide whether the initiative should be adopted. If they vote in favour, the National Parliament shall draft the corresponding bill.

5 An initiative in the form of a specific draft shall be submitted to the vote of the People and the Regions. The National Parliament shall recommend whether the initiative should be adopted or rejected. It may submit a counter-proposal to the initiative.

Art. 139a…

Art. 139b Procedure applicable to an initiative and counter-proposal

1 The People vote on the initiative and the counter-proposal at the same time.

2 The People may vote in favour of both proposals. In response to the third question, they may indicate the proposal that they prefer if both are accepted.

3 If in response to the third question one proposal to amend the Constitution receives more votes from the People and the other more votes from the Regions, the proposal that comes into force is that which achieves the higher sum if the percentage of votes of the People and the percentage of votes of the Regions in the third question are added together.

Art. 140 Mandatory referendum

1 The following must be put to the vote of the People and the Regions:
a. amendments to the Constitution;
b. accession to organisations for collective security or to supranational communities;
c. emergency national acts that are not based on a provision of the Constitution and whose term of validity exceeds one year; such national acts must be put to the vote within one year of being passed by the National Parliament.

2 The following are submitted to a vote of the People:
a. popular initiatives for a complete revision of the Constitution;
b. popular initiatives for a partial revision of the Constitution in the form of a general proposal that have been rejected by the National Parliament;
c. the question of whether a complete revision of the Constitution should be carried out, in the event that there is disagreement between the Parliamentarians.

Art. 141 Optional referendum

1 If within 100 days of the official publication of the enactment any 700,000 persons eligible to vote or any of the Regions request it, the following shall be submitted to a vote of the People:
a. national acts;
b. emergency national acts whose term of validity exceeds one year;
c. national decrees, provided the Constitution or an act so requires;
d. international treaties that:
1. are of unlimited duration and may not be terminated;
2. provide for accession to an international organisation;
3. contain important legislative provisions or whose implementation requires the enactment of national legislation.

2 ...

Art. 141 Implementation of international treaties

1 If the decision on ratification of an international treaty is subject to a mandatory referendum, the National Parliament may incorporate in the decision on ratification the amendments to the Constitution that provide for the implementation of the treaty.

2 If the decision on ratification of an international treaty is subject to an optional referendum, the National Parliament may incorporate in the decision on ratification the amendments to the law that provide for the implementation of the treaty.

Art. 142 Required majorities

1 Proposals that are submitted to the vote of the People are accepted if a majority of those who vote approve them.

2 Proposals that are submitted to the vote of the People and Regions are accepted if a majority of those who vote and a majority of the Regions approve them.

3 The result of a popular vote in a Region determines the vote of the Region.


NOW, certainly there are parts of the 1987 Philippine Constitution’s Article XVII, Section 2, that could be incorporated here, where they don’t conflict with what is here.
     Obviously, also, Republic Act 6735 will henceforth need some rewriting to adapt it to the above constitutional requirements and terms, and perhaps even partly incorporated here.
     But, there you go. That’s my piece. I’ve been transparent with my Cha-Cha dreams, and, now, how I wish the Aquino government will likewise publish somewhere its proposals for its Cha-Cha dreams in their transparent totality. . . .
     But, of course, I’d totally understand if the now-only-arguably-“liberal” Aquino administration opts to continue to be secretive about it. I would totally, totally understand if it does. Wouldn’t you? [END]