A Comprehensive Proposal for an EDSA Reform (edited)
EDSA will no longer be about alternative personalities, or parties. It will no longer be about dependence on the individual. It will be something better, more comprehensive. Now you will have something to fight for.
In the Beginning was the Barangay. Named after the ships (balangay) that carried Malayan migrants to Philippine shores and thence among Aeta tribes, the barangay was the microcosm of Malayo-Philippine social structure. Gradually, the communities began to ally themselves with other communities, forming cities. These cities, in turn, either aligned with other cities to make regional kingdoms (as in Mindanao’s sultanates) or remained as city-states with satellites or allies among them. This was the system that existed at the time of Magellan’s arrival. He actually was involved in an regional war between Humabon and Lapu-Lapu.
The barangay, the microcosm of this Malayan structure, has become the core point of the electoral-political reform proposed by the blogger Another Hundred Years Hence (from now on, referred to as AHYH). Using basic Economics and Information Systems as a basis, he began to evolve a revolutionary type of political structure, synthesizing elements of the Federal, decentralized government, centered on the power of the cities, and the Parliamentary system, where the President merely exercises Prime Ministerial power. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before tackling his points, he first discusses the present problems of the present democratic system.
Part 1: Strangers for Leaders
AHYH pinpointed the center of this problem in what I would term as the “stranger phenomenon.” In the ancient days of Greece, where the city-states ruled, democracy was small-scale and therefore controllable (though Athens itself was a monarchy, and the major philosophers deplored democracy as anarchistic and favored aristocratic rule). Candidates for the Senate came from districts beside each other, and enough people knew of their candidates to have a sizable majority to vote in the election. However, this system didn’t take into account basic social truths: eventually, the population will grow, cities would align themselves to one cause, forming large regions. So, the candidates for public office were now faced with a large electorate mass of thousands, and even millions. A citizen hundreds of miles away could have the power to vote for a candidate—and not know who the candidate is. Even more to the point, the candidates might not even come from their region or city, but principally from the center of power, or the capital (this may be why the democratic system of Rome collapsed the minute citizenship was extended beyond the city, or as the city ballooned in numbers).
“…modern popular elections have 50M voters selecting leaders they will probably never meet in person so the game belongs to the marketers and image keepers…”
These “marketers and image keepers” are actually the mass media, the spin-doctors, and campaign machineries. Naturally, the candidate will try to sell himself off to his electorate, and try to channel his message through this large distance. Obviously, he will use this group of “information channels” which I will now call the “media oligopolies” (though the blogger preferred the term oligopsony).
The immediate effect of this, explained in technical terms, is,
“The information asymmetry in the system is basically a signal vs. noise problem. The large electorate prevents direct one-to-one communication (symmetrical) between candidate and voter. To reach as large an audience as possible (to sway as many voters), the candidate’s message must be amplified through various channels. Inherent in any amplification is distortion, noise and filtering. The fidelity of the signal is further compromised by the adversarial nature of elections. Attack ads, dis– and mis– information campaigns increase the noise in the system apart from the cacophony of multiple messages from multiple sources. Again, both the candidate and the voter (moreso the voter) cede power and control of the communication (and subsequent transaction) to the media channels.”
First, the “media channels” take control. Mass media, as we know it, is a powerful, “persuading” tool. We readily believe what the newspapers, or news programs tell us to believe. Those of us who are skeptical of this journalism will find it hard to discern, and almost immediately doubt our own convictions. Media moguls, and their bureaucracies would color a candidate negatively or positively based on their own interests. The candidates would seek to curry favor with this oligopoly, maybe through bribes, influence or connections. They would field their own “media oligopolies”: the spin-doctors would be the one to try to manipulate these oligopolies through facts and twisted truths, and the campaign machineries would try to market their candidates in a positive light. With the voters having no direct access to the candidates themselves, they will be reduced to depending on these “media oligopolies”. As a result, the roles are reversed: the candidates are now the buyer of the votes, and the voter the seller of them:
“The campaigns basically say “ sell your widget to me, I will give you the best value for your widget.” From the voter’s perspective (the widget maker) the promised payment is better government (or actual financial payoff ) if he sells to the right bulk buyer Because the market is so large, there is a need for middlemen whose job is to aggregate the produce —to assemble the needed volumes of widgets for the buyers who will only buy in bulk. Hence the power of the media, and the campaign professionals and the message shapers and the spinmeisters. They, in essence, aggregate the singular widgets into a majority (or plurality) vote. The vast majority of the widget makers will never meet the bulk buyer in person (they may see them in real life at a large rally) but their selection will be based on the pitch given by the various layers of aggregators (the middle men).”
This, in fact, is the crisis being faced today in the United States: rivaling media networks, local and national newspaper companies, and other forms of media have used their power and influence to tilt the balance of power among candidates. That is why, truthfully, Barack Obama is smelling like a rose while Hillary Clinton has been constantly come under criticism and denunciation (though in Obama’s defense, Clinton fielded her own “market offensives”).
The Philippines has added another option for the candidates: they can try to control the election machinery itself. In fear of another “Marcos” control of barangay-centered plebiscites, the 1987 Constitution tried to reform/overhal the electoral institution that is the Commission on Elections. Added as watchdogs to the COMELEC (as soon as the first instances of fraud started appearing), the Church spearheaded the NAMFREL, using elements of her clergy: nuns, laymen, possibly priests. The candidates, themselves, fielded their own groups to monitor the counting, opportunities to control the counting, and the rivals’ bid to control it themselves. Realizing its preeminent role as “kingmakers” (though supposedly, they were just the conduits for information) the COMELEC styled itself as a “political entity”:
“The role of the aggregator can take the relatively “benign” form of the spinmeisters and message shapers or the media. It can also take the more malignant incarnation of the dagdag-bawas comelec mafias.”
What we have then, is a truly “information oligopoly”: the “media channels”, whether it’s under the control of independent “moguls” or directed by the candidates themselves, and the “election barons” of the COMELEC, tasked with relaying information about the votes. There is a very real danger of an “Information Cartel”, whereas an individual would control the vast media channels and the electoral commission, such that victory is assured of a candidate whatever happens.
Added to the burden of the voter (to the advantage of the “election barons”), is the number of choices he is immediately made to choose: even if it was not an election year for President and Vice President, he still has to choose between Senator, Congressman, Governor, Vice Governor, Mayor, Vice Mayor and the members of the different councils:
“The one act given to the widget maker –making a choice between buyers –is further clouded by our synchronized electoral system that makes them choose in a single go: a president; a veep; twelve senators; a congressman; a provincial governor; several councillors; a mayor; several city or town councillors; and, etc.”
AHYH, however, forgot about another sore point: not only are the candidates few, they are almost generally concentrated in the capital. The Roman Senate was populated by inhabitants from the city itself, or among Rome’s Founding Families. Anyone that either came from the ranks or from the provinces was deemed a “New Man”, and as such upstarts. Caesar traced his ancestry to the ancient Julian line; Pompey’s was from the provinces. Therefore, gravitas went to Caesar.
In the Philippines, the largely apathetic provincials in the latest “expose” against Czarina Arroyo and the support of the local governors and rulers of the same owes itself to a basic truth: there is a Manila imperialism. It’s true. The center of Comelec is based here; so are the major media networks. Even the military and police is centered on Manila. This is rooted in Spanish times: their troops, Spanish I mean, numbered only a few hundreds, maybe a thousand. There was still constant war in the provinces (in the North against the Ifugaos and others, and the Moros in the South). The Governor-General centered all military power in Manila (at the time, it was a coastal fortress), levying local conscripts to put down rebellions, while maintaining a state of martial law (which was never lifted).
When the Revolution broke out in 1896, the Visayas remained largely neutral; Mindanao was in a state of war, anyway. Only the provinces gravitating around the Manila region itself (symbolized by the rays in the sun in our present flag) could wage a real, competent war. The illustrados almost all came from these provinces, and studied in Manila: Rizal came from Laguna, and wrote in Tagalog. The leaders of the Revolution were from Bulacan, Cavite, Nueva Ecija, etc. These were all Tagalogs. More than anything then, the Revolution, and the subsequent government that followed in Malolos, was a largely Tagalog one. This is actually similar to the Javan imperialism present in Indonesia today, caused by the Dutch using Javans as troops or local government officers.
Indeed, a Tagalog-Manila imperialism actually exists in the Philippines (perpetuated by our use of Tagalog as the staple “Filipino dialect”, though, as one blogger commented before, Visayans comprise the “silent majority” in the country). This is why, the provincials will jump on any opportunity to catch a break when and where they can. (The Manileños, and even some Tagalogs, believe that the Visayans will accept Czarina Arroyo with open arms if ever she was expelled. The latter will probably do, just so in defiance of the Manila cabal.) And the Congressmen and local governors kowtow to Manila, and will field people there, to ensure their own position in their provinces (some of them even come from Manila).
Part 2: The Blueprint for Power
Media personalities do not have the problem of “stranger phenomenon”. They are immediately recognizable, whether as stars in action flicks (like Joseph Estrada, Fernando Poe Jr., Bong Revilla, and others) or dramas (Vilma Santos, Aiko Melendez, and others). Voters could also be swayed by the power that the candidate’s position entails: Bro. Eddie Villanueva was assured of the million votes of his religious group, and Fr. Ed Panlilio (though God bless him, was a good man) pulled the votes away from his “jueteng-stained” rival. Celebrities have familiarity inherent in them, and they are champions simply because they are known. Their only drawback is if the electorate begins to distinguish between popularity and actual administrative competence.
As for the latter, this is where the incumbent official steps in. The road to his office is long and hard. He needs to have some control of the “information oligopoly”–this would entail resources. He could choose to directly pay for votes, through bribes of individuals or individuals who could influence peers and other groups. Promises will be made to special interest groups; all of this require resources.
Once in office, however, he acquires a virtual cornucopia of resources: wealth of the taxpayers, influence in his position, power if in his executive capacity he can control the military or the local police. Suddenly, paying off the “information oligopolies” becomes easier. By subtle maneuverings, he can secure for himself the control of his very own “information cartel.” Even if he exerts little effort, he can vouch for his “knowability” among his electorate: unsure of the other candidates’ characters, the voters will gravitate to the incumbent, the candidate they know, and who has had experience in power. The electoral imbalance is suddenly made obvious. AHYH pores several sections and paragraphs particularly to this problem, which he calls the “positive feedback loop”:
“The feedback is “positive” in that accumulating more resources gives the politician an even stronger comparative advantage. It is also a “loop” because, successive terms also amplify both the resources and the comparative advantage of the politician.”
“It is almost impossible to draw the line between the exercise of legitimate political power and the destructive leveraging of influence. Being in office alone gives the incumbent an advantage over any pretenders as the office gives the incumbent more visibility. (More visibility =higher name recall.) Being elected gives you an advantage because it raises your public profile and makes you more familiar to the voters.”
“We have tried to regulate away the positive feedback gain and have failed simply because it is impossible to decouple elected office from the accumulation of power. If the accumulation of power cannot be decoupled from elective office, then this accumulated power becomes a high barrier to entry for would be challengers. Our democratic ideals say our candidates should be competing for votes based on the ideas they propose (their electoral platform) and their leadership track record (or the level of trust the public places on them). The reality though is that today’s media soaked culture rewards high media exposure with high name recall -giving the advantage to candidates who get in the news often (be it political or entertainment news).”
Part 3: A Formula for Change
We come now to the plan to recreate the electoral-political system to a structure I shall now call “Micro-ocracy”, using the principle of “Microeconomics”, by atomizing power. First, he restressed the fundamental problems of the present political-electoral system: to optimize the number of choices (and categories) a voter is given, to reduce the distance between the electorate and the candidate (consequently cutting the middle-man), and ensuring the integrity of the vote.
Next, he laid out the basic formula for the present democratic structure: since the greatest danger of the ideals comes from the power of the incumbent, and his advantage against his opponents, he made this the foundation of the algorithm, symbolized in c. Since the advantage comes from his ability to utilize the resources of his office or of his own to influence the electorate, he put the two in ratio: the total electorate, represented as v, and the resources, represented as r. Thus: v/r = c. Electoral power is measured by how much resources can be distributed to influence the electorate. He critiqued that the present reforms tried to correct it by imposing limits on the variable r, or how much resources is used.
“We have tried to decouple the positive feedback gain from the power of an elected official mostly by regulation or legislation. We have tried:
* Imposing term limits -because we understand that the longer a politician stays in power, the more resources he accumulates.
* Monitoring their wealth by requiring the yearly submission of Statements of Assets and Liabilities (SALs) -because it allows us to guard against the suspicious rapid accumulation of wealth. We regard wealth as a placeholder for an elected official’s accumulated power.
* Outlawing nepotism -to prevent incumbents from strengthening their hold on power via close-in connections in key positions. This is our way of trying to severe the inter-generational “loop” portion of the feedback gain. So, too, our next approach which is:
* Proposing an anti-dynasty bill -to prevent incumbents from extending their hold on power by using their scions as their patsies and by leveraging their existing power to get their patsies elected.”
He, however, took a different tack. Why not change the variable v, the volume of the electorate? That way, according to his calculations, the c advantage would be reduced to mere decimal figures. Why not split the electorate into several multi-electorates, to the smallest unit, the barangay?
This then, was his proposal:
“Citizens in all barangays will select their nine (9) barangay councilors. The candidate who garners the most votes becomes the chairperson of the barangay. This superlocal elections affords direct contact and direct information to the voters about the candidates. From there, the selection of the upper levels of government proceeds by 4 levels:
1. Each barangay sends its chairperson as their representative to a district council (which can be based on the existing congressional districts or adjusted to better distribute the population).
2. Each district council (composed of all the chairpersons from all the barangays in the district) elects from among their ranks: a) the congressional representative, and b) six (6) other representatives to represent the district in the city/town council. (The district council also serves as the consultative administrative body for that geographic area.)
3. Each city or town council elects, from among their ranks, the Mayor and the Vice Mayor. They also select six more individuals to represent the town or city in the provincial council. If the district (level 2) is not in a town or city, their six reps move up directly to the provincial council. Meanwhile, your congress representative joins the House of Representatives, and the House, selects from among its ranks 26 individuals who will serve as either senators or the president and vice president.
4. The provincial council will select from its ranks the Governor and Vice Governor of the province. There are two ways to approach the Level 4 at the national stage:
a) the top vote getters in the 26 elected from the house automatically become President and Vice President of the country; or,
b) the 26 meet and select the prexy and the veep from among themselves.”
Here’s a visual illustration:
voter=>barangay council=>district council=>1. Congress 2. Town Council=>1. Mayor 2. Vice Mayor 3. Provincial Council=>1. Governor 2. Vice Governor
where Congress=>Senate;President;Vice President
In this sense, he believed that there would be little jockeying, as the neighborhoods themselves would be the judge of their own candidates. The battle would not be, therefore, on who has the money, but who has the better platforms, or administrative experience.
Part 4: The Critique
Reading it, analyzing it, I thought, wow. His system might just work. I once thought that the key to reform lay in overhauling, and putting good men in Congress. I was stalled with the thought of the party monopoly of Lakas-NUCD, and the local dynasties that try to secure both Congressional and local office seats. There had to be a way to break these boyars. Only then, can we have a real, working Parliament, and a real government. And, AHYH’s proposal, seemed perfect. It fit. Economically, it worked. It would break our American-adopted capitalistic democracy and serve as an alternative to the socialism of Marx (at a time I was studying another viable alternative).
Something, however, felt wrong. I looked again.
voter=>barangay council=>district council=>1. Congress 2. Town Council=>1. Mayor 2. Vice Mayor 3. Provincial Council=>1. Governor 2. Vice Governor
where Congress=>Senate; Vice President; President
The figure seemed familiar. Then I remembered:
AHYH had identified the roots of American capitalistic-democracy, through the use of Economics and Information Systems study. However, he forgot the fundamental element in all of politics: the social element. He mentioned that the Greek democracies were successful they were city-states; but they were also successful because they remained city-states, and never aligned themselves permanently to form a regional kingdom. When they did, city-states overtook other city-states, and there emerged rivaling empires: Athens and Sparta, Sparta and Thebes, Thebes and Macedon.
The barangays, led by their respective datus, had to eventually form into larger communities, and thus city-states. Such were the kingdoms of Maynilad, Sugbu, Mactan, etc. Wars would also lead to the establishments of empires, as in the Sulu Sultanate in the south. Just because at the time the Spanish came the major powers in Luzon and Visayas were still city-states, didn’t mean they were going to remain that way. The migration was a few hundred years old, new in terms of periods.
We integrated the Spanish patron-client system with our own datu system. Cronyism may have become notorious and prevalent with the Americans, who lacked the discipline of traditions, but it started under the Spanish rule. It was popularized in the talangka concept: a successful man will be approached by friends and relatives, who would be seeking balato, or a share of the profits. To refuse them, would be to insult them—wala siyang pakikisama. They were his friends, and he abandoned them by his selfishness.
The client then, elects the patron so that he, in turn, would grant favors to the client. This existed in Roman Republican times, as well as in Italy and Sicily, where it was later imported by the immigrants to America, where they became the “organized crime syndicate” (actually a state within a state–they mediated based on their own rules). This would become more acute in barangay-ranged elections, where neighborhoods would seek to place their “strong man” to council (they would sometimes be idealists, but most of the time simply influential people and “their man”).
This then, would be my interpretation of the new system:
Strong men could be champions of labor, or some other worthy cause; most of the time, they would be the wealthy aristocrats, the landlords, or the crime bosses turned legitimate, who hold the power, and thus the local police/military/paramilitary. To AHYH’s question of whether the neighborhood will vote for the celebrity, in the midst of lawyers, doctors, or any other professional, I would say that the vote will gravitate to the rich man. He has fewer electorate problems; there is a smaller number to intimidate—even more effectively, as in the small unit of the barangay, there is a possibility of knowing key names, and connections.
So you have the serfs. These strong men, who will dominate the barangay council, will start to align themselves with their fellow councils. Without a strong political force backing anyone, the councils will negotiate, finding common cause, isolating the council members opposed to them, then when alliances are made, elect their leaders to the districts. These are the semi-lords. Power will ultimately gravitate to the cities, where the mayor will style himself as a baron. Imagine the capitalist-democratic system, except in smaller magnitude. Read articles about the electoral violence city-wise: in Abra, where mayoral and congressional candidates vie for power, and violent assassinations occur; in Mindanao, where the assassinations are met with assassinations; in parts of central and southern Luzon, and the regions of Visayas. The mayor will naturally come from one of these strong-men: partly through scheming, partly through intimidation, he will force his way into office.
The parties will no longer be national-oriented. Having been assured of power in the local level, these city-states (as they have become) will now serve as kingmakers; the mayors will influence the election, district-wise, of his party-mates to Congress, who will then vote, in their numbers, the new Prime Minister (the Vice and President really don’t fit in the picture), and members of the Senate—then again, why not do away with the Senate entirely? Finally, these city-states will vie for control of the Provincial Council: alliances will be made, usually the stronger city in terms of size, wealth, force, etc. This powerful city (or groups of cities) will elect their governor. The governor will try to control the city-states, but then again, he owes his power to the coalition of the “city-kings”.
What about the barangays of the middle class and the poors? Because there are many of them, eventually the wealthy and the elite will not have a chance to control the elections. Au contraire.
The middle class can resist the influence of the “power brokers”, but can be intimidated through force, paramilitary presence, or even the use of local police or military. The poorer barangays will likely gravitate to the idealist, the champion of their class—or to the wealth of the individual from the other barangay, who is supporting the candidacy of his selected man in the barangay. They could resist… and suffer harassment, death threats, or their candidate simply assassinated.
A city, or a group of cities, having controlled their respective provinces (instead of the other way around), they would ally themselves to try to field “their man” in the office of the Prime Minister—or, if the Senate remains (what would be the Senate’s role, anyway?), their number in the Senate. Even with all of this, it would still remain a Tagalog-Manila empire. It’s simple mathematics, really: the combined number of Manila and Luzon districts outnumbers the Visayan or Mindanaoan districts. Even if reduced to Central Luzon, as the Southern Luzon districts might offer to align themselves with the Visayans, it would still remain a Tagalog-Manila empire, by a small margin. The key here is the major organizations, the “information oligopoly”, and the nationally loyal army. The Comelec might even begin to grow itself as a sort of “empire within an empire”, and its position as Chairman would give it “kingmaker” status, as opposed to what it is now. Lakas-NUCD may gain a “federal” color; it has the political machinery. Their focus would be more distributive, among the cities. It would be the mayors, and not the Congressmen, who would be party-leaders.
So what happens when the Tagalog-Manila empire is re-established, alienating the Visayans and the Mindanaoans? This is the final, fatal flaw in the design: the structure of government has fractured so extensively, that having gained power in the provinces, these coalition of cities will choose to break away from the Manila-based empire. Few people know this, but at the time when Aguinaldo unfurled the flag of the Republic of the Philippines in Malolos, further south, there were other declared independent states: Western Visayas, for example. And, having failed to make a dent into the new government, the Bangsa Moro movement will truly force an independent country, probably trying to take with it the rest of Mindanao, Muslim or no.
Provincial-wise, city-states trying to put “their man” on the governorship will clash with other cities. City armies will be fielded, and local wars waged. The city-barons will have had ample experience, in their strong-arming of the barangays. Civil war among entire regions, civil war among cities. The Philippines will indeed enter into a “Dark Age”. Who will benefit? The neighbors, of course. America will favor the Tagalog-Manila empire, though they will compete with China. The latter will seek an alliance with the other breakaway states, probably the generally-already Communist North (There is still a Communist insurgency, and most likely they would have penetrated a large number of barangays) or parts of the Communist South. So now it’s also a war of ideology.
Part 5: Proposed Changes
My vision of its implementation may seem to come out of a political thriller, but it’s very possible. If you give power to the barangays, in the hierarchy of powers, it would be the cities that reap the final profit. The American capitalist-democracy has been somewhat diminished, but the patronage mentality borne from Malayan and Spanish roots would become more acute.
However, that is not to say that the whole proposal is radical, impractical and insane. In fact, AHYH is in the right direction. Decentrallize the power; pull it away from Manila, and the Tagalog region. That way, the Mindanaoans who have been urging for some real form of autonomy, would not be so alienated, as they would have a chance to shape the nation. Eliminate the middlemen, the “information oligopoly”. That way, the incumbents would not be able to use them to insure victory. Shorten the degrees of contact between the voters and the candidates. That way, the voters would know that when they voted, they did not throw their vote away.
AHYH’s design is incomplete. He talked about a proto-type; in practice it would still be a nightmare, reminiscent of China’s “dark age” right after the fall of the Manchus. Economics is more than just the market–the people itself. It’s also about social forces. How numbers in the rural areas would mass to the cities, in search of some better future. These same numbers would be pulled away to Manila, where the dollars and the power went. The labor and the farmers would be swayed by whoever would promise to give them a better plight. The elite will try, as they did in the drafting of the Malolos Constitution, to concentrate power on their own.
Here then, are my proposed revisions to AHYH’s blueprint:
1. Abolish Comelec. This would seem outrageous, as Comelec is a Constitutionally-created Commission to monitor and prevent Marcos-type strong-arming through the barangays. Let me tell you this: if Comelec had existed during Marcos’ time, he would have had an easier time declaring Martial Law, and get his plebiscites passed again and again and again and again… The Church based NAMFREL, as well as other election watch organizations, will comprise the main organs of the new, local-based, election councils. Maybe. Localize the election councils—either give them back to the barangays, or give them to a council representing the various important sectors: the Church, the youth, labor, etc. Whatever you do, cut the tie of the Executive to the election organization.
2. Provide more electoral power to the rural areas, equal to that of their urban counterparts. In this breath, I propose this: create an agrarian political division equal to the power of the city district. That way, the cities will not have an advantage of the rural areas, or at least only marginally. They will also encourage the farmers to collectivize, make their own alliances, and actually be encouraged to press for greater land reform.
3. Do not atomize the election all the way down to barangay level—make it district level. And give the power of Congressional representation to the provinces. Yes, the numbers increase ten-fold, but if the advantage of incumbents, according to barangay calculations, are mere decimals, and even by the hundredths or thousandths, then the district level would only rise to one or two digits, correct? That way, the cities will not get control of the provinces… it would be the district council who will elect the mayor, the vice-mayor, and then delegates to the provincial council. Power would thus gravitate to the provinces, the regions. This way, the governors would be able to have a greater “bird’s eye view” of the general problems in his region, and not be pressed by special interest groups in the cities.
The revised model would be like thus:
voter=>district council=>town council=>1. Mayor 2. Vice Mayor 3. Provincial Council=>1. Governor 2. Vice Governor 3. Parliament
4. Get rid of the Senate. The new Parliament will be controlled by the governors, who will probably be jockeying for their respective candidates in the provincial council. The Federal system really would usher in a Parliamentary system—they go hand in hand. The main point is, we get to diminish oligarchic power from the Parliament, and at its worst, we would give power to… the aristocracy, and the local level, at that!
5. Divide the provinces in Mindanao such that those affiliated with Bangsa Moro would be strictly equal to that of those that are not. This way, the Muslims will not be alienated by a “Christian domination”, and neither will the Christian faction be threatened by a “Muslim encirclement.”
6. With the COMELEC gone, lift the electoral ban on ideological and religious movements. There is a practical reason for this. AHYH said that the problem with Philippine politics today, is that the candidates are not chosen for their platforms or ideas, but on their popularity, and money. This is because, lacking in real ideological division, voters will gravitate on who has the money. Lift the ban, and in this way, the secessionist Communists will have a say, the Catholics and environmentalists will have a say, the many Christian denominations, and the Muslims will have a say.
7. Please come up with a good, agrarian and social reform. The main problem is not only structure-wise; it is the distribution of wealth, and the generally large income disparity between the rich and poor. Why not impose taxes directed at the excessively wealthy, the A to A+ classes, to regulate their generation of wealth, while acting under police power? Then, use the accumulated wealth generated from this taxation to give direct social welfare, pension to the poor, funding for the farmers, and labor support fund. It is also the power of the elite in land; the farmers can’t utilize the land because they don’t have the money to maintain the instruments, and the knowledge on what to do with it. The agrarian welfare fund would be siphoned from the taxes directed at the A to A+ classes, so they would have the money to maintain the instruments. Then, a larger program will be made to instruct farmer on how to develop their lands into marketable production centers. This way, the “agrarian district” referred to in #2 would indeed be a power broker, and the Philippines would somehow encourage a producer-class equal to that of the consumer class.
And there you have it. What AHYH lacked in, I filled in as much as I could. Of course, there is still much to tweak (at what level will the Supreme Court Justices be selected? Or will the be purely by IBP appointment?), and with #6 the outcome would be unpredictable—for example, the Communists would, in their control of North and Southern Luzon, have a majority. Then again, you could put there a possible Parliament dismissal and new elections: 4/9 of members of the vote of Parliament is needed to abolish the existing one and reelect a new one (and since the election of Parliament members is provincial wise, then the people won’t be bothered). You could also put in added pressure to the Parliament, by placing a sort of “People’s initiative” by percentage of district, which, when a certain percentage of all districts are reached (still needs tweaking) then the Parliament would be abolished and new reelection happens.
This revision of the Micro-ocracy proposal (which I shall now call the Micro-Federal Democratic System), seeks to alleviate the following problems: eliminate the Manila monopoly, as since the Congressional vote is province-wise, and the Manila area is one province, it is only the national government capital, but not the economic and social one; avoid a “Serbian mistake”, by making sure that no one region or ethnic group has the majority in provincial council vote. Incidentally, AHYH made sure that the “one-man autocracies” would diminish, as the one-man offices are taken from Councils: district, provincial, and then Congressional. Most importantly, no one faction has power. Not the media oligopolies, or the election barons. The elite would be regionally limited. And because, hopefully, secessionist and ideological rebellions would finally be discouraged by giving them a piece of government, military spending would decrease, and the budget would focus on better things, like education, and alternative fuel research, and medicine.
Again, this is just another proposal, coming from one proposal. I am encouraging criticism from various sectors, and their own offers of revisions. In this way, through constructive argument, and the sharing of opinions, we would finally be able to get to a working manual, something that we can thrust on the oligarchs and their elected monarchy and say—this is what it’s all about. Not personalities, and not parties. A real, substantial, structural reform, different from the American, different from the Marxist. One that is a balance of the two. And, hopefully, one that works.
This is a rough draft, one that will go through revision after revision, depending on the ideas of reformers around the Blogosphere. Bring the proposal out, offer this as a new system with militant groups, reform groups, and other sectors. As many people must know.