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July 27, 2005


carlos celdran

Hmmm. I think the parliamentary system is worth a try - AGAIN.

Another way of looking at it is that power is too centralized in the Philippines right now. The current system is too dependent on "Imperial Manila" for all its decisions and dole outs - and Imperial Manila is where all the shenanigan happens.

Im for a parliamentary system if only to dilute the power (and taxes) to the countryside.

It wont change the corrupt system but it will abolish senate. And that is a huge step in abolishing corruption right there. :o)

And with a parliamentary system, we also we can kick out leaders (which apparently we loooove to do) without plunging the ENTIRE country into chaos. Just a vote of no confidence and we find someone else and move on.

It will also minimize personality politics.

Hopefully, with a parliamentary system, we can be just as chaotic - yet functional - as say, Italy.

And that ain't so bad.


Hi Carlos -- Thanks for the interesting comments. Is it true that all the shenanigans happen in Manila? Garci wasn't operating here. I think that is an idealized picture of evil urbanites preying on innocent rustics.

Why is it every time I hear the word "federalism" a vision of Chavit Singson arises before me? I am an admirer of Chavit in some ways, but I don't think his brand of personalized strongman politics is the way to go. Yet that is the where some of the federalism proposals look like ending up.

To be honest, I don't really understand the federalism argument. The Philippines already has a federal system, with governors wielding significant power and budget. If there is a consensus that more power should be shifted to the provinces can't that be done within the existing system?

As for "minimizing personality politics", short of forcing candidates to wear hoods, I don't think that will ever be done. I think we have to forget that as a policy objective and concentrate on more attainable goals like collecting revenues and ensuring most of them are spent wisely. To be fair to her, Gloria was at least focusing on that unglamorous task.

carlos celdran

Yeah. Youre right. It's all truly hopeless. I don't see things changing anytime soon.

Sigh. I have to say though, save for the bryanboy entry, your blog has never failed to depress me these past few weeks. (You have four rants on the Philippines, a few on bombings and an obit).

Why so dark? :o)


Sorry to be such a downer! I think my views on parliamentary democracy are fairly up/down neutral though. My view that the Philippines would be better improving its current system rather than setting up a whole new system is just my opinion on a fairly abstract question.

As for personality politics, the Philippines is not alone in this. This is a worldwide trend and we just have to live with it.

Despite all the pressures on the country, I don't think it is hopeless at all. It's an unpredictable place -- anything could happen. Will try to be more upbeat in future.


I agree with this post's many points and yet there is one thing that appeals to me about the Parliamentary system -and that is, in the long view (20-50 years) a unicameral, parliamentary system has a better chance of stabilizing philippine politics than a presidential system.

why? a parliamentary system atomizes the elections - you elect a district representative. It offers the ability to blunt election by sheer popularity. for sure the actors and actresses will all run in the districts but they will be out-maneuovered in the party caucuses. parliamentary elections temper personality politics. (your example of Blair - he was elected on the Labor platform and local economic performance that neither the Tories nor the Liberals could sell against).

granted, this will mean joe deV and his ilk will have the run of the place for the next decade, atomizing the electorate's decision making means there are greater chances for cause oriented parties to get a seat on the table. (this is how the greens won leverage in many european parliaments) local elections have already shown that campaigns riding on local issues can beat popularity contests (i.e. - Rudy F losing to Sonny B in Q.C.) - by removing the national positions, the district level (MPs) are forced to discuss local issues and deliver on local issues.

the current presidential system, with its powerful executive department just encourages and entrenches patronage politics.

patronage politics, a feature of our personalistic, spanish molded culture, will not disappear overnight, but a parliamentary system offers a better chance of breaking the cycle.


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is true that a switch to a parliamentary system might eventually lead to the positive outcomes you identify. In my country, Scotland, for example, a distinctive political has emerged within the broader UK framework, characterized by a large proportion of seats held by smaller parties (the Scottish Nationalists and the Lib Dems) and, for a while, no Tory seats at all! Hooray. As you say, Germany provides an example of how a small party (the Greens) has made an impact nationally through the parliamentary system.

Still, as I mentioned in a comment on mlq a few days ago, I think proportional representation is a much fairer system than "first-past-the-post". In the UK for example, the Lib Dems regularly poll more than 20% of the vote yet end up with less than 10% of the seats (not sure of the exact figures, but it is of that order). Why? Because they often come in second and there are no prizes for that.

First past the post also leads to apathy. The fact that your vote "doesn't count" (because your consistency is solidly in the camp of an opposing party) is a major reason for the pathetic turnout in British elections. Despite the many criticisms of the Philippine electorate, I have found people here to be remarkably well informed and politicized. They may not always choose wisely, but they know who they are voting for and why. If there is to be a switch to a parliamentary system, care would have to be taken to ensure that that sense of engagement is not lost.


Me myself is anti to what the government wants, Cha-Cha, whats the use of changing our present "Rotten" system of government when all of us knows that its pointless, i think its not a change in the system that we need. at this time, we Filipinos must unite, and by saying this, we must end our grudge with each other, stop corruption, start cleaning the image of the AFP, of the government. and by doing so, we can finally achieved the "change" that we are longing for. lets just think about our sons and daughters, what about their future?...the time is now for us to make the first move.


i like the post on phil. parliament... wht can you say about the "people's initiative" to promote chacha..?

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As for personality politics, the Philippines is not alone in this. This is a worldwide trend and we just have to live with it.

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I love how you failed to mention examples like Australia and Canada. It's narrow-minded and dismissive individuals like you that hold back progress in the Philippines.

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It wont change the corrupt system but it will abolish senate. And that is a huge step in abolishing corruption right there.Sad to say but its true:(

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Well ur very convincing.. But not convincing enough. First, obviously it will decrease the chances of corruption but not completely abolish it. DUHH, theres no possible way.. So does it mean that if ppl and the president doesnt believe it, its not true at all? Oh my, everyone doesnt believe anti gravity is possible.. but Why are there airplanes now?? People working in a party is more lykly to be more concious of each others business. unlyk presidential where ppl work individually. ITs much easier to detect forms of corruption in parties and you forgot to mention one thing, LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE branch merges there. Meaning they can mind each others business. Now dont tell me that will further increase corruption :P *owned

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