Fearing Constitutional Reform Because Of The Fear Of The Unknown


What do all four ex-presidents have in common? They all have their successes and failures. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino in spite of some of the obvious failures (such as the unfulfilled MRT express project due to the Presidential system’s UNREALISTIC time schedules) actually made a total of 29 economic amendments that improved the economy. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in spite of some of her shortcomings also had useful economic programs. Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada in spite of his lack of intelligence actually tried to remove even more unreasonable restrictions towards foreign investment (and back when Mar Roxas was still in favor of it). Fidel V. Ramos is the sharpest knife among the four ex-presidents wanted to usher in more than just removing excessive restrictions towards foreign investors — he wanted to replace the presidential form of government with a parliamentary one.

There’s the problem of the fear of the unknown. A crazy 4Ps obsessed old man claims that the “hundred years argument” is not a fallacy when it’s really a fallacy. He claims parliamentary countries should remain parliamentary and presidential should remain presidential due to the “hundred years experience”. Ironically, said crazy old man that all that’s needed is some few amendments like lifting up excessive restrictions to foreign investment. But how can he account for the fact that before a hundred years came — there was once zero experience in presidential and parliamentary in said countries? China has had centuries more experience in being ruled by emperors than by presidents. Japan has had several centuries of rule under an emperor as an actual ruler than under a prime minister where the royal family serves as a symbolic role. Also, the Philippines has had nearly three centuries of Spanish rule making it having more experience under Spanish rule than as an independent state. How does he account for that?

The fear of another Marcos-type dictator to rise up is one reason why constitutional reform was antagonized for so many years

It had me thinking that back then — I was afraid that Fidel V. Ramos’ call for charter change or better termed as constitutional reform would result to another Marcos dictatorship. I don’t want to deny the Marcos years dictatorship and the victims that it produced. I don’t want to deny that the crony capitalism of the Marcos Years also contributed to the inflation. Besides, Marcos’ corpse deserves to be buried right next near to Carlos P. Garcia — the very idiot who started the “Filipino First Policy” which ended up causing the Philippines to FAIL.

Now does it matter how long or how short a presidency is? It’s all about quality and quantity of rule. The problem with Marcos’ 20 year rule was not that it was a 20 year rule — it was the quality of the 20 year rule. Lee Kwan Yew ruled Singapore for more than six years and gave it good quality rule. The problem of six years is that it gives too little time for ambitious projects. Good examples of ambitious projects that were ruined by the six years time limit? You can talk about some unfinished projects by Noynoy or Ramos’ master plan to make the Philippines a tiger economy. Also, President Duterte’s ambitious infrastructure project can end up with in a fiasco with unrealistic deadlines.

Can much be done in six years only? Six years is too short for presidents with ambitious projects and too long for stupid presidents. I even thought about Noynoy’s critics who fail to consider that the six year term limit will limit anyone. Noynoy passed 29 amendments to help the Philippine economy via foreign investments. It helped improve the credit rating. But is that enough? I even want to keep bringing up the unfulfilled promise of an expressway from Baclaran to Bacoor is too ambitious to finish before his term ends. A parliamentary system would have probably given Noynoy leeway as a prime minister to finish his unfinished projects. The presidential system hindered him from finishing said projects and I can’t even be sure if President Duterte will be able to finish the expressway from Baclaran to Bacoor. Also, take note that Noynoy was continuing some of Gloria’s policies when he passed those 29 amendments.

Constitutional reform could have made Ramos the Philippines’ version of Mahathir Mohammad

I even thought about how I often feel so stupid in not seeing how a Ramos rule for more than six years could have benefited the Philippines. The problem was that soon enough after six years — Ramos ended up getting succeeded by the more incompetent former president turned mayor Erap. Erap did consider about removing excessive restrictions even if he was an opponent of Ramos’ charter change program. But there’s one thing we can’t deny — Ramos was a sharper knife than Erap was. Erap himself also ended up misappropriating some of the budget — though some of the factors that led to the late 90s inflation was partly because of the Asian Crisis. However, Erap failed to provide safety measures back then.

But just imagine though what if Ramos succeeded in transforming the Philippines into a parliamentary system aside from succeeding in establishing better economic policies. Maybe, the chances of Erap sitting as prime minister would be lower. If he did, he would have been voted out of his office via a vote of no confidence. He could have probably ruled longer and had an alliance with Malaysia. Just imagine if both Ramos and now resumed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad had been longer allies. A Philippine-Malaysia alliance with both competent leaders could have been beneficial to the Philippines. Ramos had a lot of good reform packages and so did Prime Minister Mohammad.

The good of the Ramos regime should have gone beyond six years. Ramos himself could have started with better projects under a parliamentary system. We would also have the scenario where he would be scrutinized for his plans for the Asian Tiger Philippine project. He would need to answer and accept criticism from the parliament. Just imagine how much could be done by Ramos would have he succeeded in shifting to a parliamentary system. Sadly, the fear of the unknown turned it into an opportunity cost.

Daang Matuwid towards progress would have been possible under a parliamentary system

In spite of all of Noynoy’s weaknesses (along with others) is that he actually started uplifting certain economic restrictions — which in turn helped the credit rating of the country. So why wasn’t that even really emphasized by the Yellow Media? The whole problem of Daang Matuwid scheme is that again when will they realize six years isn’t enough? How sure are you that six years under Noynoy, six years under Mar Roxas and six years under Leni Robredo would help enhance the very good that Noynoy did economically? Sadly, Roxas flip-flopped and would have he been president — maybe he would revoke the 29 amendments that Noynoy did. Leni would have probably even done the same thing if she were president right now.

So how could Daang Matuwid be accomplished under a parliamentary system? I think a lot of Noynoy’s mistakes are because the presidential system gives much less scrutiny to the president himself. A parliamentary system would put him under direct hot water. That means Noynoy would have to constantly participate in debates. Franklin Drilon as Speaker of the House would have probably been removed for sleeping on the job.

Let’s have the real issue of how a parliament works. We have Prime Minister Noynoy and Deputy Prime Minister Jejomar Binay. We have the Majority Bloc and the Minority Bloc. Not only does Drilon have to listen and moderate — he’s also under scrutiny by the whole parliament and its audience. Noynoy would have to defend why he’s making the 29 amendments and everyone must contribute to how to improve them. Also, his appointees who sadly were mostly incompetent would have probably done a better job. What’s so sad to know was that Joseph Emilio Abaya who was an outstanding student didn’t become an outstanding Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary. 

Let’s consider how Daang Matuwid could have been accomplished under a parliamentary system. A good example would be how Etta Rosales herself as a Minister of Human Rights would have been scrutinized further for her lack of action. The Shadow Minister of Human Rights (ex. Harry Roque) would have to read the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights such as that there’s no mandate within the law that it should just go after state agents. Rosales could have been roasted by Roque and voted out — Gascon himself may not even get the chance to sit as Minister of Human Rights. Also, the Dengvaxia fiasco could have been avoided in a parliamentary system. Noynoy having to hurriedly implement such a dangerous project before the end of his term led to the fiasco. Also, Minister of Health Janet Garin could’ve been voted out of the parliament for her lack of competency.

Unfortunately, Noynoy actually failed to see that systems do matter. Has he even considered the wasted potential that are in his party such as former solicitor general Florin Hilbay and Bam Aquino aside from Roxas and Abaya? To say that we just need to change the people but not the system is stupid. A system that encourages stupidity will make smart people stupid. Roxas is a Wharton graduate, Hilbay was once a top notch lawyer and Bam himself is an awarded businessman. It’s a waste really how these guys lost all their potential because of the Liberal Party’s popularity-based politics and the framework of the 1987 Constitution. 
Also, some of the problems of the Duterte Administration could have been easily dealt with under a parliamentary system. President Duterte’s desire to completely remove FDI restrictions can’t be done by him alone because it’s so easy to manipulate the current legislative system. Other problems such as people like former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre Jr. could have been removed faster for his neglect or the current problem of BIR employees who abuse their authority could have been done easier. 
The fear of competition and “foreign invasion” should the Philippine restrictions be further removed caused many opportunity costs in Philippine economics
Not to mention, the biggest fear is the fear that foreign investors are foreign invaders never mind that we’re actually enjoying foreign products. Don’t tell me your electronics are all Filipino brands or made in the Philippines? Don’t tell me that you’re not ranting how nationalistic you are on a Filipino platform? Google is an American company and a lot of electronic products today are from Japan’s ever evolving electronic industry. Heck, even the desktop PCs that those idiots at the Pisonet are using are all foreign materials. Worse, Hilario Davide ended up propagating the idea that allowing foreign investors to invest in the Philippines is equivalent to allowing invaders to invade it. He really needs to have a check-up right now!

What has caused the very idea of fearing foreign investors in doing business in the Philippines? It’s all because of focusing only on the ill effects or disadvantages over the advantages. True, there has to be some restrictions such as foreign investors need to pay their taxes and follow rules. However, the very fear that foreign investors will drive out all Filipino-owned businesses to oblivion (such as an idiot like Neri Colmenares loves to suggest with his fear-mongering). There’s also the fear of competition going on. It’s really crazy to have a mindset that you hate competition while bragging at how great you really are. If you have to get others to fail for you to succeed then you didn’t succeed at all. It’s because real success happens in the face of adversity and fair play — not in the face of dragging everyone down so you will be on top!

There’s also the problem of their analysis. It’s sad to say but having a fear of foreign investors (while engaging in a self-contradictory enjoyment of the use of foreign products and services) is only focusing on the Weaknesses and Threats when it should be a SWOT Analysis. SWOT means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Ever heard of the statement that the pessimist looks at the hole while the optimist looks at the doughnut? I guess the problem is has it with viewing all types of competition as a battlefield instead of looking for win-win scenarios whenever possible. True, not everything is a win-win scenario (such as sacking drug dealers would mean drug dealers lose and the law wins) but why not seek a win-win scenario and healthy competition whenever it’s possible. Also, foreign investors are not only Threats but they can also be viewed as Opportunities. How can they be opportunities? They can mean more taxable income for the government and they can serve as additional service providers and customers for Small and Medium sized businesses in the Philippines. 
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This is what can be done. It’s time to stop fearing the unknown for the sake of fearing it. It’s time to do research and carefully analyze the need for reforms. No more fear mongering! Enough is enough!

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