BONTOC, Mt. Province — What was supposed to be a day of celebration of the province’s rich culture and diverse traditions turned into a campaign for charter change, through the people’s initiative.

Addressing hundreds of people who all gathered for the yearly Lang-ay Festival, Rep. Victor Dominguez of the lone district of Mt. Province made an urgent plea to the people to sign in favor of charter change. This move, he said, will pave the way for the shift to a unicameral parliamentary system of government and hopefully put an end to the political gridlock in the Senate and House of Representatives.

“Charter change through the people’s initiative will be good for the province,” Dominguez said.

But Sen. Edgardo Angara, the guest speaker for the event, said he was more in favor of amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly rather than the people’s initiative. (The Senate on March 29 passed a resolution declaring as illegal the gathering of signatures for a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution. Only Angara and Lito Lapid did not sign the resolution.)

The people’s initiative, as of the moment, is the fastest and surest way to introduce amendments to the Charter. The ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats is confident that a plebiscite could be done by June or July 15 this year.

There are three modes for amending the Constitution: a constituent assembly (composed of the members of Congress), constitutional convention (where members are elected) and a people’s initiative.

Angara said he supports the move for a shift to a parliamentary form of government. He earlier said that a presidential form of government has resulted in “gridlocks and stalemates, while most countries have left us behind in economic growth and political maturity.” He said that the country will be a “rudderless and directionless” nation if senators and congressmen will continue in their political bickering.

Dominguez, speaking in Ilocano, said a unicameral form of government would result into a more efficient system of delivering services to far-flung provinces. He gave as an example the dismal way Senate has been handling six bills which he has filed for upgrading the province’s local roads to national roads and 23 bills for establishing national high schools in several municipalities. None of these measures, he said, have been passed in the Senate.

“The only sure thing now is the people’s initiative,” he said, adding that the province has already gathered enough signatures to meet the three-percent requirement in each district for the people’s initiative to push through.

But a source from the provincial office said Dominguez was making the announcement because there were not enough signatures yet. The province has a voting population of 81,396; a little bit over two thousand signatures would be needed to meet the required number. The province’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer could not be reached for comment.

Arroyo won in the 2004 elections in Mt. Province, and Dominguez, a member of the pro-administration party, Kampi, voted in favor of throwing out the impeachment complaint against the President last year.

Moreover, despite questions on the legality of the people’s initiative and the issues surrounding the Comelec’s move to verify the signatures, Dominguez said election officials should start validating the signatures as Comelec has already issued an order to do so. On March 27, Comelec has issued a memorandum, stating that field personnel can validly verify the signatures for charter change.

PCIJ interviewed residents from different towns in Mt. Province and most of them said they did sign in favor of the initiative to amend the Constitution while admitting that they did not fully understand the implications of their signing. Barangay officials, they said, told them that charter change is good for the country and that the community should give it a try.

“They said the government will save money because the Senate will be abolished and government will be more stable with a unicameral form of government,” a resident from the town of Tadian said. He added that pro-Cha-cha advocates distributed primers that were written in English. “Many did not understand what it was all about,” he said.

In a barangay in Sabangan, a resident said villagers there did not sign the petition because they doubted the proposed shift. Another meeting will be scheduled this week, she said, perhaps to woo people to sign in favor of the initiative.

“Go to the barangays and ask what Cha-cha is and they will answer, “What is that, a kind of vegetable?” a provincial official said.

Angara said during the press conference that these are precisely the reasons why the local government should conduct thorough information campaigns on charter change before soliciting the people’s signatures.

The residents in the area also said they were not given “gifts” in exchange for their signatures.

(Lang-ay, a Kankanaey term for oneness or get-together, is an annual event which aims to highlight the culture and traditions of the Mt. Province through a cultural parade and street dancing.)

13 Responses to Rep. Dominguez campaigns for charter change

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johnmarzan

April 8th, 2006 at 10:50 am

Angara said he supports the move for a shift to a parliamentary form of government. He earlier said that a presidential form of government has resulted in “gridlocks and stalemates, while most countries have left us behind in economic growth and political maturity.” He said that the country will be a “rudderless and directionless” nation if senators and congressmen will continue in their political bickering.

Translation: What he and other pro cha cha supporters want is to get rid of the “checks and balance” in our system, so that the illegimate president can do whatever she wants without being challenged — just like marcos.

And IIRC, gridlock wasn’t a big issue panahon ni Cory, Ramos at Erap and even during Arroyo’s first term as president. in fact, maganda ang working relationship ni maam Arroyo at ng senate majority, led by franklin drilon.

But I guess you can say na mas grabe at halata ang “gridlock” ngayon… pero hindi naman ito kasalanan ng senado, kundi dahil puro stonewalling ang ginagawa ng malacanang ever since nabuking sila sa GLORIAGATE scandal at naging questionable ang legitimacy ni Maam. And of course, arroyo’s EO 464 did not help matters at all.

so, wala namang problem sa sistema natin dati eh. yung malacanang occupant ang may problema, kaya gusto na ng mga kaalyado ni arroyo na i-abolish ang senado.

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scud_1975

April 8th, 2006 at 11:56 am

We are in “gridlocks and stalemate” dahil lahat ng pulitiko, oposisyon o administrasyon, may mga hidden agenda kung bakit ayaw o kontra sila sa charter change. Tama si Angara, the country will be rudderless and directionless..kumbaga sa bangka, walang sagwan.
CBCP has issued a pastoral letter para sa mga pro-chacha na may pansariling interes. Mabuti yan. Pero sana tingnan din nila ang mga pansariling interes ng mga senador na anti-chacha. Maliwanag naman na ayaw ng mga senador na ma-abolish ang senado dahil:

Una..Mawawala ang kanilang “pork barrel”. Aba sayang naman yan kung pakawalan nila yan. Kung saan man nila ginagamit yan, sila lang ang may alam? So, papayag ba silang mawalan ng pork barrel? Eh di para na rin silang nagtampo sa bigas.

Pangalawa..Wala silang “district constituency”. Mabuti kung sikat ang pangalan nila sa probinsya nila kagaya n Angara at Enrile. Eh paano kung hindi,kung kakandidato ba sila bilang Members of the Parliament sa parliamentary system manalo kaya sila? Alam na alam nila mas mabango ang pangalan ni Congressman sa dami ng nabiyayaan ng pork barrel, legal man o ilegal. So, kakalabanin ba nila sa eleksyon si congressman? Eh di para na rin silang bumangga sa pader.

Pangatlo..Wala sa batas ang People’s Initiative. Pero kung babasahin ang “Philippine Constitution” maliwanag na constitutional ito..
Article 17 SEC. 2.
“Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right. ”

Ang problema nga lang, walang magaling na senador at congressman ang nakaisip gumawa ng batas nito kaya walng Implementing Rules and regulation. So, papayag ba silang gumawa ng batas para maging legal ang “people’s initiative” ? Eh di parang kumuha na rin sila ng bato na ipupukpok sa ulo nila.

So, papayag ba silang maging uni-cameral? Eh di parang hinukay na rin nila ang sarili nilang libingan.

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baycas

April 8th, 2006 at 10:06 pm

SIYEMPRE
(ang matuwid ng animo’y baluktot o saliwa)

kumpunihin ang may butas at saliwang saligang batas, tama? siyempre…kung talagang sira.

sino ang tubero? aba siyempre…dapat ‘yung hindi makikinabang sa papasakang butas ng batas.

paano ba maitutuwid ang saliwang batas?

una, con-con. sa tatlong paraan at sa ngayong panahon, ito ang pinakamainam. subali’t pinakamagastos. sa isa ring banda, ito ay medyo matagal dahil pagbobotohan pa ang mga tubero. (sa aking malikot na isipan, bo-malabs ito dahil nagmamadali ang malacanang. kung bakit ay alam nyo nang piho.)

pangalawa, con-ass. gaya ng nasabi na, ang tubero ay walang karapatang makinabang sa gagawing pagpasak ng butas.

pangatlo, people’s initiative. marami na’ng dalubhasa ang nangag-sigawan ng pabor o kontra dito. gayunpaman, ito ang kasalukuyang isinasagawa:

…sumibol ang PUNO…SUMIGAW ang bayan…lumabas ang ULAP…pumirma ang sangkatauhang WALONG (o dili kaya’y “walang”) milyon…pumabor ang GLORYA (at waring walang kinalaman sa inisyatibo)…pumapel din ang PADALUS-DALOS (tugma sa pandinig sa kumolek na chairman)…ano naman kaya? magiging ba’ng PANGANIB an’ huwes???

pero teka muna…ano ba ang kasalukuyang inisyatibo? para lamang palitan ng “unicameral parliament” ang “bicameral presidential.” ang mga detalye (mga butas na papasakan) ay saka na lang…

sa katunayan, inisyatibo o simula lang ito para sa con-ass. ang masaklap, madaragdagan pa!

kapag napagkasunduan nang ayusin ang saliwang batas (paalala: magastos din ito pag botohan na) ang mga tubero ay siya ring mga kasalukuyang mambubutas (sa ibaba at sa itaas) kasama na ang sangkaterba sa gabinete ni glorya na hihirangin (isipin mo na lang na kasama si bunye at si raul gonzales???) — sa madali’t sabi, SILA-SILA rin yan bagaman ang tawag ay “member of parliament.” (uuhhmmm, parang naalala ko bigla ang lasa ng menthol na parliament…suwabe…di gaya nang mga magiging member of parliament.)

hoy, hoy, hoy…eh di nga ba…ang mga tubero ay di dapat makinabang sa pagkukumpuni…eh sino’ng may sabi na di gagawa ng batas ang mga ‘yan na di nakapasak sa kanilang mayayaman at mapansariling tumbong??? aber, sino? si prime minister…JODEBI?

…mabalik tayo sa paunang pangungusap…saliwa nga ba at may butas ang saligang batas? maaari. kailangan na bang kumpunihin? maaari din…

pero…doon tayo sa pinakamainam na paraan. doon din tayo sa mga tuberong ayos — ‘yun bang hindi saliwa at tila baga’y mga butas ng tumbong. siyempre!

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Rizalist

April 9th, 2006 at 5:22 am

Ed Angara has specialized in being the Consigliere to whichever political mafia is in power because, like Joe de Venecia, he is an unelectable remnant of the old Marcos regime, who has successfully survived several regime changes and thrived. But people ought never forget, that it was Angara and his partners at ACCRA Law that facilitated the bribery and corruption which enabled Marcos to buy one nuclear reactor for the price of two — the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant — the 2 billion dollar piece of the sovereign national debt that has never produced a single kilowatt of electricity. It is also the biggest single piece of that debt, and sits there on top of Mt. Natib mocking us all. We are paying about US $250,000 EVERY DAY until 2017 for it. My original essay for PDI is still posted at Odious Debts dot org:

PPA THE BITTER FRUIT, BNPP THE ROTTEN ROOT

And this is just what Mr. Angara allegedly did 30 years ago. But his neatest caper was to buy survival by giving the Davide Court the thin tissue upon which they hung the chandelier called Estrada vs. Arroyo, a decision that exceeds Javellana’s doctrine of acquiescence in casuistry, and in history I predict, INFAMY. For it legitimized military mutiny and blessed the judicial coup d’etat of Hilario Davide, in which the Court itself was an active political participant, not a neutral observer. The Zion that he restored was his own personal failure, the failure of the impeachment trial. Angara gave them all a neat lil way out, by making resignation the reason for ouster, not the permanent disability they declared themselves when they swore in Arroyo. But all the chickens will come home to roost where they were laid — in the Supreme Court. Which needs to be cauterized.

Or they will kill democracy again. Probably for good. (I don’t understand, really, why the Supreme Court is treated with such kid gloves around here. They are dangerous unelected robots of the President who have yet to win the people’s respect and earn the benefit of the doubt. Let them not forget, that we, the People, HAVE abolished the Supreme Court at least once before — in 1987. Which proves that there IS a court higher than this Supreme Court of pusillanimous procrastination.

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vonpogi

April 9th, 2006 at 10:45 am

SI ANGARA AY KASABWAT NI S RAUL-O GAONZALES NA PARAHONG BAKLING. IYAN ANG SENATOR NA BABALITA PALAGI NA BAKLA AT MAHILIG SA BATA. KUNG ANG EDUCATION MINISTER ANG PUNTIRYA NIYA AY MAGIGING KAWAWA ANG MGA BATANG LALAKE DAHIL IYUN ANG AATUPAGIN NINA GONZALES AT ANGARA. PAREHONG HINDI DAPAT PAG KATIWALAAN.

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KaBlogs.com

April 9th, 2006 at 11:00 am

Rep. Dominguez campaigns for charter change…

Charter change through the peoples initiative will be good for the province, Dominguez said….

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schumey

April 9th, 2006 at 4:46 pm

The Angara’s has a politocal dynasty is their province kaya pabor sa kanila and Cha-Cha.

And what is Dominguez talking about? Creating more schools will do no good, we have a shortage of educators. Most students in public schools cannot even pass the national tests conducted yearly. Yung conversion of local roads to national is also not a problem. Maybe the said roads’ locations are far too local. May IRA naman to maintain these roads that the national government does not have to spend for these roads.

If only people caught the interview conducted by Ricky Carandang with Sen. Serge Osmena. It was an eye-opener. Imagine, the Lower House intentionally delaying the budget to give GMA more leeway so she can fund the Cha-Cha. Osmena even challenged any congressman to compare the amount of work done by both houses.

We must all be reminded that senators are nationally elected as opposed to the locally elected congressmen. They have a bigger representation than these congressmen.

Art. 17 also clearly points out “amendments” and not “revision”. There’s a big difference between the two. Talagang pag may kina-kampanya itong mga tongressmen ay puro “pangako” ng magandang buhay (buhay lang nila ang gumaganda).

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fullman

April 10th, 2006 at 2:05 am

the Lower House actually decided to declare an early holiday to give its members more time to campaign for pirma. the thing is, the gma camp now has too many hurdles to face to amend the constitution – even if they get enough signatures (and boy, how driven they are) and even if the SC reverses its own decision, the people’s initiative can only be used to amend, and not revise, the constitution.

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fullman

April 10th, 2006 at 2:10 am

i forgot: Rep. Cagas wrote a poem about cha cha. i posted it on my blog, visit http://www.fullman.wordpress.com .

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lokalokang matino

April 10th, 2006 at 9:32 am

Apo Victor, sa magkanong dahilan at nasikmura mong bulahin mga constituents mo?

Sino nga ba ang pinaglilingkuran mo, si gloria o kababayan mo?
ANG KAPAL MO APO, ANG KAPAL APOG MO!!!!!

Education, food security, social services, health benefits yan ang atupagin nyo?
These are the things our countrymen needs. In some barrios, schools hold classes under the trees, on the corridors. Teachers are inadequate.
Learn to say NO to gloria even if she dangles cash and gold and term extension.
Have a little respect to yourself, practice delicadesa.

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tikboyblue

April 10th, 2006 at 4:27 pm

mana talaga si Dominguez sa bosing niyang si Gloria in the Palace. sir, okay lang ang cha-cha pag wala na si gloria.

sa ngayon, trabaho ka na muna. ilan na ba ang bills na nai-file mo at naging batas?

http://www.philippinepage.blogspot.com

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schumey

April 10th, 2006 at 10:47 pm

Just caught a news item early tonight, the discretionary fund of GMA will total to P651 Bil., while total government agency budget is only P405 Bil. These funds is for GMA to spend as she pleases. She can spend it for whatever she wants (Cha-Cha and bribery to her cohorts to name just two.). This is the budget approved by the lowerhouse. Imagine how huge the “leeway” given to her by her cohorts. This is where our taxes go my friends. Our country continues to suffer for lack of basic services. Should GMA’s Cha-Cha succeed, just imagine how they’ll spend our taxes. Without any check and balance, who would stop them from robbing our country blind?

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alexandraleia

April 11th, 2006 at 9:54 pm

I don’t believe that those who are proponents of constitutional change necessarily want to remove the ‘checks and balances’ in our political system. In the first place, I don’t think a political system without any checks on authority would have any currency in our society today, and civil society groups’ responses to any abuse of authority may attest to this. If the merging of the legislative and executive branches in a parliamentary system may be seen as a ‘loss’ of checks and balances, it must be remembered that the government – that is, the executive – remains accountable to parliament (the legislative). Furthermore, it may be argued that this merger strengthens democracy by making the government’s business a more inclusive process. In addition, it may be argued that having representatives connected to a specific constituency furthers democratic accountability.

Though I agree that these calls for charter change – particularly for a shift to a parliamentary system – should be taken with a grain of salt (like anything else that pertain to the future of our country), I do not think that the advocates for change are without their own legitimate reasons. When Senator Angara says that ‘a presidential form of government has resulted in “gridlocks and stalemates”,’ I think his views can be backed up by academic research. For instance, Juan Linz, the Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, has written on ‘The Perils of Presidentialism.’ Among these include the personalisation of power (the election for the head of our country becomes one of personalities – look at the number of artistas who have entered politics in the last few elections), dual democratic legitimacy (both the executive and the legislative have separate mandates from the people to govern), and the rigidity of the presidential term (the recourses to leaderhip change can be difficult – such as the impeachment process – or altogether unconstitutional – so-called ‘people power’).

At this point in time, it is the last of these ‘perils’ mentioned that I think concerns us most. Seeming to have been blinded by the success of the original People Power Revolution, EDSA I , Filipinos resort to the ‘power of the people’ to implement their will at their whim. While I have no doubt that power ultimately should rest with the people (and political theorists such as John Locke would agree), I believe that this power – like that of our government officials – should be exercised responsibly. Exercising responsibility by us, the people, means making informed choices when we vote. It means taking an active role in politics, or at least being knowledgeable of what’s going on in our country. It also means working within the constitution. How can we expect those in government to treat their offices with responsibility when we ourselves cannot exercise responsibility? Admittedly, we seem to be faced with a Catch-22. How can we expect the Filipino people to be responsible when a large majority of us are impoverished and uneducated? Surely the government plays a role in improving this dismal situation, but how can the government exercise responsibility if the people we elect care more for their personal gain rather than the collective good?

One of the alleged benefits of the presidential system is that it provides a strong and effective government; however, the current presidential system in our country doesn’t come anywhere close to that. After all, how can it be effective if legitimacy is questionable (as has been the case with Presidents Estrada and Macapagal-Arroyo) and when is so much politicking involved? With parliamentarism, the politicking will arguably decrease, as each parliamentarian would be required to toe his respective party line. On the other hand, crises of legitimacy may be responded to by the potential flexibility of the parliamentary system: coalitions in the parliament may change without recourse to elections, with the parliamentarians acting according to their consciences and their constituents’ demands (for which the constituents can hold their respective representatives accountable). Moreover, the head of government can call elections; though this may be seen as a way of entrenching his power (harking back to the ‘loss’ of checks and balances mentioned at the start), it must be remembered that these elections can also go the other way: the results may represent a vote of no-confidence in the government.

I’m not saying that parliamentarism is the solution to all our problems. I don’t think that switching to such a system, given our current political culture, would necessarily do us much good. We should keep in mind examples of failed parliamentary systems, such as Pakistan’s (in which parliamentary governments are now notoriously equated with nepotism, self-interest and inefficiency), and remember that institutional structure alone does not make for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ governments. Though institutional structure can pose as political constraints and thus shape political behaviour, it must be remembered that agency – the agency of the people in voting responsibly and in keeping their representative accountable, as well as the agency of our political representatives in looking out for the public good rather than their personal interest – still plays a determining role.

Having said all that, I think that we should examine the possible courses for action available to us at this point in time. With President Arroyo appearing firm in her resolve to continue her constitutionally mandated term (which is ironic, considering that she wasn’t too concerned about constitutionality when she replaced Estrada as president in 2001), and with many dissatisfied with this political situation, it seems the only effective choice we have is to turn to constitutional change in order to ‘get rid of her’ (after all, having her continue as head of the current presidential system would arguably be inefficient, considering how beleaguered she is by questions of her legitimacy and calls for her resignation; she simply wouldn’t be capable of commanding the authority her office requires). Given this option, we should all read the fine print, be aware of the myriad of avenues towards constitutional change and all its complexities. I believe the Filipino people are entitled to this information. If the government wants to pursue constitutional change, the people should know exactly what is at stake, and not be made to sign any petitions in return for minimal rewards in cash or kind. Pursuance of constitutional change should not be rushed; after all, the future of our country is at stake. If this is done well, this may be the start of something good for the Philippines.

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