Thursday, December 07, 2006

While We Were Sleeping

In the dead of the night our (mis)representatives have effectively decided to crown themselves (dis)members of a soon-to-be parliamentary government. Crickets were witness to vote-buying among our (dis)honorables.

Newsbreak outlines the plan of action upon transition and other proposals to amend our 1987 constitution:

* President Arroyo will nominate the interim prime minister. The lawmakers, with Vice President De Castro presiding, will “elect” the one nominated by the President. (This is a major point of contention among administration congressmen who are against De Venecia.)

* Despite the shift in the form of government, President Arroyo will retain her powers under a presidential setup until June 30, 2010. She, however, “may delegate” to her nominated prime minister “powers over the Cabinet.”

* At least 10 Cabinet members will be given seats in the interim parliament.

* If the President appoints a lawmaker to the Cabinet, the latter will not lose his or her seat in the interim parliament.

The highlights of the proposed amendments in the section concerning the Legislative Department are:

* Members of the parliament will no longer be representing geo-political districts but constituencies of 300,000 residents each.

* Partylist representatives won’t have to come solely from so-called marginalized sectors. They can be part of any registered national, regional, or political parties or organizations. (This returns the party list system to the original concept provided by the 1987 Constitution and the Party List Law, but which the Supreme Court re-defined in a 2001 decision.)

* The prime minister will be elected by members of the parliament from among themselves (as opposed to the interim PM that President Arroyo will merely nominate.)

* By a vote of two-thirds, the parliament will have the sole power to declare the existence of a state of war. (This does away with the provision in the 1987 Constitution that the Supreme Court has the power to review such declaration by the legislature.)

A parliament with the combined powers of the legislative and the executive. The concentration of power in a single body in government. Th possibility of (self)serving office in perpetuity. An electorate that doesn't know what a parliament looks like. A people largely unaware of their democratic rights and duties. Goons more than willing to take advantage. Good luck to us all.

No comments: