Reflecting on the Constitutional Reform Movement

It seems I started a bit of a firestorm with a recent article among the advocates of constitutional reform, whom I did not actually identify as the CoRRECT movement — because to be quite honest, I’m not at all certain they are necessarily the only reform advocates in the country — but who were quick to acknowledge themselves as the “victims” of my “attack.” Among the many, many online and offline comments I received was a suggestion that “I reflect on my errors.”

I can’t help but reflect; I’m bald, so I reflect all the time, unless I’m wearing a hat. And upon reflection, I’ve realized an interesting thing about my “errors”:

I didn’t make any.

I made three basic points in my article: First, that the reform movement suffers from a lack of clear goals and organization; Second, that the prescribed solutions are presented as self-evident drivers of progress; and Third, that the informal, populist approach taken to promoting the need for reforms is impractical and unrealistic. Nothing I have heard in the responses to the article has revealed that I have fundamentally misunderstood the advocacy or their message, or that my perceptions of its flaws are inaccurate.

There is a much deeper issue than whether or not constitutional reform is right or wrong. That, in fact, is not even a matter for debate — the 1987 Constitution is a piece of junk, and must be changed. The what and why of the advocacy are not the problem; it’s the how and the what next that are getting short shrift.

All reforming the Constitution accomplishes is to presumably establish a better environment in which the country can develop and progress; the reforms do not confer development and progress on the country by themselves. Non-constitutional reforms should be identified and given attention now while the constitutional reform initiatives are being pursued, because the end of protectionism does not necessarily attract foreign investment if the investment environment is otherwise uncompetitive, as the OECD points out:

“Market opening needs to be accompanied by sound macroeconomic settings, flexible labour markets and institution building to allow labour and capital to move from declining to expanding areas of activity, and by social safety nets, improved education and training and the strengthening of property rights in order to address the underlying causes of poverty.” [Emphasis added]

Parliamentary systems may on the whole function more efficiently than Presidential systems, but no system is immune to corruption, inefficiency, or instability. The difference between a Parliamentary system and the current Presidential system is like the difference between an F-18 and a pedicab; one is obviously a superior mode of transportation to the other, but try putting a pedicab driver in the cockpit of an F-18 without the proper training and preparation and you’ll soon be picking through his blackened wreckage, assuming he can even get the thing off the ground in the first place. Federal systems likewise can more efficiently spread population, productivity, and governance throughout the country, but they can also create or aggravate existing inequalities. There is, for example, a difference of around $35,000 in the median household income of the highest- (Maryland) and lowest- (Mississippi) ranked states in the US.

Constitutional reform is merely a tool, and like any other tool it can be used properly or misused. Achieving constitutional reform is a beginning, not an end. The leaders of the reform movement would say that the scope of their mission is changing the Constitution, because that in itself is a big job which has so far proven impossible in the twenty-odd years since President Aquino 1.0 foisted the current Constitution off on the country.

That is hardly good enough.

Reforming the Constitution and changing the entire shape of the Philippine body politic is not merely a one-off initiative like supporting a piece of legislation such as the RH Bill, or backing a particular candidate for office. It assumes the mantle of national leadership; the leaders of the reform advocacy may not necessarily find themselves in Parliament or the Prime Minister’s office, but if they are successful they will have changed the country as much or more than any elected leader ever could. Having provided the tool — a tool which, quite significantly, no one here will have ever seen before — the reform advocacy has an obligation to tell people how to use it. The scope of the project, whether they like or not, goes far beyond simply changing the Constitution. What will be done to attract investment? How will the Parliament be organized? How will the country be divided into Federal states?

Of course, those questions may be rendered moot if the initiative fails, which is a possibility. One of the basic operating beliefs of the reform advocates is that priority should be placed on gaining public support for constitutional reform, the rationale being that any changes that are made will ultimately need to be ratified by the people. But the plebiscite is the last step in the process. If public support was the potent influence it is imagined to be, why, for example, is the RH Bill still sitting on someone’s desk in the Legislature? Why, for example, did Gloria Arroyo avoid getting run out of office on a rail in 2005? Why, for example, has a Divorce Bill not gotten passed?

The Philippine voters are not the droids you’re looking for, folks. It is an understandable offense to peoples’ idealism, but it is what it is: There are powerful influences that make things happen — or not — in this country, and they are where your energies should be directed.

As I said in the conclusion to my earlier article, to outsiders like me the failure to accomplish the reforms that are so obviously needed in this country, constitutional or otherwise, will represent a regrettable lost opportunity. For the people of this country, though, I don’t think it is necessarily hyperbole to assert that lives — or at least livelihoods — are very much at stake. To be fair to the reform advocates, I know they realize that; what they need to do now is start acting like it.

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About BenK

I write a column for The Manila Times on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Most of the energy sector and the heads of several government agencies probably wish I didn't.

16 Comments on “Reflecting on the Constitutional Reform Movement”

  1. Hold your horses, Ben…

    Everything I’m about to say is based primarily on the article you posted on GRBusiness Online, specifically this one: http://grbusinessonline.com/wp/?p=429#comment-283

    Apparently, you’re missing some very major points here:

    Firstly, the CoRRECTâ„¢ Movement started off as a Get Real Squad initiative.

    Remember? You are part of that same group and YOU and I, together with the rest of the entire Squad had specifically AGREED that among the causes that Get Real Philippines was going to spearhead an information campaign on was on “charter change.”

    Do not forget the fact that you were part of that consensual decision-making process that started off in late May and that coincided with your first article talking about “charter change”, originally published on antipinoy.com.

    http://getrealphilippines.wordpress.com/the-philippines-road-ahead-part-1-changing-the-system-of-government/

    Our discussions and decision points on the nature of how Get Real Philippines (via what used to be our primary platform: antipinoy.com) would push for the “charter change” drive and what would be included in the message went on from May all the way to early July when I came out with my first “charter change” article:

    http://getrealphilippines.wordpress.com/philippineprogress

    Among the things that we had agreed upon in our online discussions as well as our offline discussions with the other Manila/Philippines-based Get Real Philippines members were the following:

    1) We (Get Real Philippines – you included) would be focusing our reform advocacy mostly on the already existing “charter change” initiative, and GRP’s role would be to dispel all sorts of misinformation and black propaganda that has been hurled at it. GRP’s thrust would thus be to mount an information drive to inform, educate, and enlighten the Filipino Public on what “charter change” is all about and also talk about what it is not.

    The obvious aim is to correct people’s mistaken notions and explain why “charter change” is a necessary “first step” among the many solutions in fixing the Philippines.

    * * *

    2) Since we (GRP – you included) decided on a clear-cut information drive, we also realized that to get the most bang for buck – that is, convincing the most people – we would need to have a SIMPLIFIED and EASY TO UNDERSTAND MESSAGE that brought together the most important reform initiatives for charter change (parliamentary system, federalism, economic liberalization) and put them together in a very coherent and easy-to-follow “story.”

    * * *

    3) We (GRP – you included) actually brainstormed many other possible reform initiatives as well. The Freedom of Information Act was one of them, and it was something we decided we would also separately push for. And there were many more – including many of those you mentioned in your article. Yes, if you try to recall, we talked about them. But eventually, we all (you included) consensually agreed that because of our thrust in maintaining the simplicity of our information campaign’s message and to avoid diluting the message, spreading ourselves too thinly, and putting in too many “moving parts”, we (GRP – you included) ended up with the decision that the Get Real Philippines reform advocacy would concentrate primarily on “charter change”, that is – fixing the 1987 Constitution’s errors.

    After all, it was actually discussed that if the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions were fixed so as to remove constitutional restrictions on corporate ownership and others, obviously, the momentum would be there to cause the other reforms relating to republic acts and other legislation to be initiated.

    The idea thus was to mimic a bowling ball doing a strike. To do a strike, you do not need the bowling ball to hit all 10 individual pins. Instead, you let the ball hit a critical area in the 10 pin formation so that the pins that are hit by the ball all fall on other pins which fall on other pins, thus bringing all pins down.

    To make efficient use of time and effort, we (GRP – including you) would concentrate on one reform advocacy (“charter change”) that would act as a catalyst and trigger reforms on other related legislation.

    * * *

    4) Because of our (GRP – you included) decision to keep the message SIMPLE and EASY TO UNDERSTAND for our readers, while we all essentially agree d on which provisions of the 1987 Constitution needed fixing, we decided early on that we would concentrate first on talking about the general deficiencies and defects of the 1987 Constitution and then talk about general solutions to those deficiencies and defects. Part of the issue involved here was that certain specifics at an early stage of the information campaign might serve to turn potential supporters off. As it is, initial proposals often work best when a general and high level proposal is given, and the specific options under that general direction are worked out much later.

    (Pizza or Pasta? That’s the initial question. You don’t normally talk about a specific type of Pizza – seafood Pizza) or a specific type of Pasta dish – like spaghetti carbonara – early on. That’s talked about LATER once you’ve made up your mind on the high-level “Pizza versus Pasta” decision.)

    * * *

    5) For instance, instead of being specific about the exact shape that the proposed shift to a Parliamentary form of government, be it a British Westminster, Spanish-style, German-style, Turkish-style, or other style of parliamentary government, we (you included) decided to be more general in simply talking about “Parliamentary Systems” and then would give the options of specific types to be discussed much later.

    The question of whether to use a purely “winner-take-all” electoral system or a proportional representation (like “D’Hondt’s method) is a specific issue that is to be discussed much later. The important issue is selling the general idea to the Public and getting the most number of people convinced of the general direction.

    We also felt that with issues on the economic provisions, we felt that concentrating primarily on talking about corporate ownership and the fact that the current Constitutional provisions limit normal corporate ownership by foreign investors to only 40% of a Philippine company or 30% of an advertising company or zero to media companies and public utilities rather than talking too much about the land ownership issue would generate the best discussions.

    As a practice in Project Management, the concept is called “Progressive Elaboration.” Start off with the general idea, get a consensus on that, and progressively more towards greater elaboration as the exercise progresses.

    * * *

    6) Likewise, in line with keeping the initial Public Information Drive general enough as to get the widest approval among the Public, we later even chose to change the terminology for “Federalism” into the more general term “Region-based Decentralization.” That way, instead of being fixated primarily on one specific type of region-based decentralization, we could keep the initial discussion open to quasi, semi, or full-Federal forms.

    * * *

    7) Later on, as the “charter change” information drive progressed, several of us in Get Real Philippines who were actively involved in the information drive (through writing articles or operating a radio talk show) came in contact with many other fellow “charter change” advocates who wanted to help out in spreading the word. One of these was Mrs. Carmen Pedrosa who had been with the movement for constitutional reform since the 90’s. Another one was Attorney Demosthenes Donato who had experience in advocating and lobbying for “charter change” a few years back.

    Unfortunately, a few months later, sometime in October, three GRP members (including you) seemed to have forgotten that there was a collective and Consensus-based AGREEMENT that the entire GRP Squad had decided upon which was to push for the “charter change” information drive. You, along with two others, unfortunately changed your minds without telling the rest of the GRP team that you had all decided to stop supporting the “charter change” information drive that several of us GRP’ers were spearheading.

    One member’s main concern was that he wanted Get Real Philippines to emphasize that Filipino Culture was the main culprit for the Philippines’ lack of progress. Actually, I have no issues with that. In almost all my articles that deal with Constitutional Reform, I had actually complained that numerous dysfunctional aspects of Filipino Culture were to blame for precisely the refusal of many Filipinos to properly analyze what are systemically wrong the economic and political system in the Philippines. I further explained that those same cultural dysfunctions are what made many Filipinos averse to learning more about “charter change” and refuse to consider it as a solution even if it was obvious that the 1987 Constitution was defective.

    You, on the other hand, joined in the criticism of the Get Real Philippines “charter change information drive” by raising the very same things that we had brainstormed initially around June and July about the scope of our “information drive” but had explicitly decided to omit as including them would have diluted the central advocacy, complicated the message, and confused the public. In your November article that insulted the Get Real Philippines charter change information drive (which you ironically AGREED TO in June/July and had been originally involved with) by stating that the “advocacy” had omitted talking about various pieces of economic legislation, completely ignoring the fact that YOU YOURSELF had agreed that in order to have a more effective information-dissemination strategy, we needed to keep the message simple by focusing on the 3 main reform points of “charter change” and ignore the numerous other Republic Acts, knowing that these would clearly be addressed once the Constitution was amended.

    * * *

    8) As a result of the sudden “friendly fire” that occurred when YOU and two other Get Real Philippines members did not seem to want to be associated with the hitherto AGREED-UPON “Get Real Philippines Charter Change Information Drive” several of us from Get Real Philippines joined forces with our external pro-charter change allies and forced a separate group that would continue the original “charter change information drive” that several of us from GRP (including you) had originally initiated.

    As part of our efforts, we had decided to think of a new terminology for “charter change.” We wanted something that would not evoke the old “charter change” which had been so demonized by the Press and Mass Media. We realized that international news agencies continued to use an English term called “Constitutional Reform” which expressed the concept clearly.

    As such, we changed the name from “charter change” to “Constitutional Reform” as the general term, and then created a new branding that would emphasize the Economic Reform aspect which we said was the central theme of all these reform initiatives in the first place, and where political and territorial administration reforms play supporting roles to the main economic reform agenda.

    The new branding was meant to explain the essential concept of this new Constitutional Reform initiative, and create a name that would be hard to demonize: CoRRECTâ„¢

    Constitutional Reform & Rectification for Economic Competitiveness & Transformation

    The newer CoRRECTâ„¢ branding was launched on January 16, 2011 with this article:

    http://getrealphilippines.wordpress.com/basketcase

    With that, more and more advocates of Constitutional Reform were drawn to the cause as a result of the original aims that had been agreed upon by Get Real Philippines Squad (Core Group) Members – INCLUDING YOU.

    What did those original aims entail again?

    1) Simplicity of Message: Stick to one key theme, and limit sub-themes to at most 3.

    We chose one key theme: Constitutional Reform
    We limited it to 3 sub-themes: Economic Liberalization, Region-based Decentralization, Parliamentary

    2) Choose the advocacy that creates the biggest impact. The bowling ball that knocks down 10 pins at one go does not need to hit all pins: It can hit SOME PINS at the proper angle and at the proper area, and thus cause those pins that the ball hit to fall on top of other pins, knocking them down.

    3) For simplicity’s sake, use Progressive Elaboration: At the early and initial awareness-generation phases, stick to general concepts. As a majority of people understand the general concept, then later on move on to slowly providing specific options to elaborate on the general concepts.

    Instead of talking about specifics on what type of parliamentary system (British-style, Spanish-style, German-style) or what type of electoral system (first past the post versus proportional representation/ D’Hondt), we stick first to the general essence of a parliamentary system.

    4) Craft a message that is simple, easy to remember, easy to understand, easy to articulate, has the least number of “moving parts” as it can have, and has the greatest impact.

    Our audience is meant to be the general public. Realistically, we are initially targeting influencers of above average intelligence who are not necessarily specialists but are intelligent enough to understand and appreciate many of the concepts presented. Our idea is not to make experts out of our audience, but rather to convince our audience so that they can easily disseminate the message themselves. It is thus necessary that we simplify the message so that most of our audience can easily remember our message and thus easily replicate it and pass the message on to others.

    We are specifically NOT targeting specialists, experts, and academics. We are targeting ordinary educated people such as high school teachers, mid-level supervisors and managers, engineers, IT professionals, nurses, businessmen, and many other ordinary citizens coming from a professional background who may have just enough of an interest in learning about how to make the Philippines a better place. Those people in turn will hopefully have gained just enough knowledge and enthusiasm in passing on what they learned from our campaign to their friends, families, and other contacts.

    * * *

    One of the things you totally missed simply because you never really even cared to ASK ANY OF US fellow Get Realists who are part of the CoRRECT Movement is that several of our CoRRECT co-founders, namely Attorney Dindo Donato, Mrs. Carmen Pedrosa, and Mr. Arnel Endrinal (yes, our fellow Get Realist who hosts the Sentro ng Katotohanan Radio Show) are actively organizing several ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS at the University of Asia and the Pacific together with Dr. Bernardo Villegas to bring together economists, experts, legislators, and other high-level decision-makers and stakeholders to come together to talk precisely about Constitutional Reform!

    You didn’t know that, didn’t you?

    Well, that’s because you never asked us about what other stuff we’re doing. You just went out to ATTACK the Advocacy without knowing what we’ve done and what we’re doing!

    I call that SHOOTING FROM THE HIP, Ben.

    Last July, the first Roundtable Discussion was held. It specifically Tackled Economic Provisions. In case you didn’t know, IT ALSO TACKLED PROTECTIONIST LEGISLATION!

    See how you jumped the gun?

    This coming mid-October will be the second Roundtable Discussion, again, to be held at the UAP/CRC campus and it will be a continuation on Economic Provisions and other Economic Liberalization initiatives, primarily focused around but not limited to the Constitution. That is – it will also talk about regulatory legislation and many other economic legislation.

    Now… What’s wrong with the picture?

    You jumped the gun.

    You didn’t ask anyone among your fellow Get Real Squad colleagues be it me, Arnel, Chino, or whoever else is also in CoRRECT. You could have asked us since we are, after all, supposed to be on the same team.

    BUT YOU DIDN’T.

    You DID NOT DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

    You just BLINDLY ASSUMED that the CoRRECT Movement was limited ONLY to internet link-passing and information dissemination.

    You never stopped to realize that both CoRRECT co-founders Mrs. Pedrosa and Attorney Donato are both SEASONED LOBBYISTS who have been in constant contact with experts, stake-holders, decision-makers, and MOST ESPECIALLY LEGISLATORS. Both of them have been at this for years! They’ve been lobbying the same legislators to do this.

    How could you even miss that, Ben???

    Oh, yes… You weren’t really interested to know in the first place.

    It’s pretty obvious that in your pot-shots article, what you really wanted to do was to INSULT the CoRRECT Movement anyway.

    Don’t deny it, Ben. It’s so obvious.

    You made so many WRONG ASSUMPTIONS. You didn’t stop to think that we have members who work in the staff of some legislators. You didn’t even stop to think that we also have LEGISLATORS in our group!

    All you did was listen to all the unfair black propaganda that Pablo Lantern whispered to you and you readily believed it. You probably even believed Lantern’s claim that CoRRECT is really just one person.

    Well, sorry to burst both your bubbles, but we do have 470+ members and they include active lobbyists, legislators, and legislators’ staff members too in addition to all the ordinary citizens like myself who have nothing to do with government but are simply interested in building a better country.

    Where exactly is the VOID? It’s not in the lobbying in the background part.

    We have people doing that. Certain legislators have already filed bills for it.

    It’s in capturing hearts and minds of the Filipino PUBLIC where Constitutional Reform has for a long time had a problem! In case you haven’t noticed, the relative success of the CoRRECT Movement ever since its first official launch in January of this year is that we’ve convinced quite a number of ordinary people, some of whom were formerly AGAINST Constitutional Reform (thanks to Media Bias) to reconsider it based on its objective merits and lo and behold, thanks to the ease of passing information and articles on the internet, they were convinced. Now there are so many people who’ve become supporters of Constitutional Reform which if we didn’t do what we’ve been doing WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.

    See the point, Ben? You’ve got it all wrong!

    * * *

    The real bottomine, Ben, is that your article above is a result of your having forgotten the decision points that WE (yes, that includes YOU) at the Get Real Squad had AGREED UPON.

    You were criticizing the Advocacy for doing precisely what YOU and I (together with other Get Realists) had explicitly AGREED UPON when we set out to undertake this information campaign.

    The level of insults and rancor that you have exhibited in your article is just unbelievable, considering that the very reason why the “Reform Advocacy” you were actively dissing in your article did exactly what we did is that WE (yes, including YOU) collectively AGREED TO DO JUST THAT.

    We (yes, YOU included) agreed to keep our explanations easy-to-understand and accessible to ordinary LAYMEN, and yet YOU accuse the advocacy of being a non-EXPERT advocacy.

    We (yes, YOU included) agreed to keep our advocacy simple and focused on one easy-to-understand entity, fixing 3 flawed aspects of the Constitution, and yet YOU accuse the advocacy of omitting legislation needing reform. (Didn’t we agree to focus on the Constitution in the first place to avoid confusing the public???)

    We (yes, YOU included) agreed to keep our advocacy following the principle of progressive elaboration in order to keep our initial “awareness campaigns” at a high and general level and avoid contentious specifics at the initial stages, and only move on to deal with specifics much later once a lot of people are already informed about the need for Constitutional Reform and thus clamor for specifics, yet YOU accuse the advocacy of lacking specifics, when in fact we had agreed to keep the message SIMPLE in the initial stages.

    * * *

    So here’s a question:

    Considering that YOU and I are fellow Get Real Squad members, WHY did you NOT approach me, Arnel, Chino, Lester, Anthony, etc (all fellow Get Real Squad Members who are also part of the CoRRECT Movement) and give us some useful feedback about things that you felt the CoRRECT Movement should have been doing?

    We could have probably clarified with you that some of what you’re asking us to do is OUT OF SCOPE or that someone else is working on it or that we never set out to do some of the things you were expecting us to do.

    (At least if you had asked, you would not have expected a MOTORCYCLE to do what an F-16 fighter jet is supposed to do. If you had asked the doorman as to what kind of Chinese Cuisine the Chinese Restaurant was serving, you probably would not have blown your top and scolded the waiters of a Sichuanese Restaurant for not having Cantonese DIMSUM on the menu.)

    Why did you suddenly just write your uninformed ARTICLE above that totally sought to insult the CoRRECT Movement (almost every paragraph has one or two insults specifically targeting “The Reform Advocacy”), citing things you feel we should have been doing, when you never even gave us a little heads-up on some of your suggestions, or you never even conferred with us to ask if we were already doing some of those things you mentioned?

    Why, Ben?

    Could it be that insulting the CoRRECT Movement was your TRUE OBJECTIVE and NOT ensuring that “we pursue the advocacy properly?” (read: the way Ben Kritz and Pablo Lantern think it should be done?)

    Just months before your unwarranted November 2010 criticism of the Get Real Philippines “Charter Change Information Drive” (the precursor of CoRRECT), you had specifically AGREED that we needed to adopt a simple and easy-to-understand message that the PUBLIC could easily remember.

    As it turns out, many of the things you mentioned are things we are already doing. In case you didn’t know, we have an extremely competent lawyer and Constitutionalist on our team – yes, he’s the same lawyer that several of us GRP’ers wanted to bring into the Get Real Squad – WHOM YOU and the 2 other Get Real Squad “non-charter changers” VETOED because you felt his inclusion might cause “Get Real Philippines’ Mission” to get hijacked by a specific political advocacy.

    Lest you forget, promoting “charter change” was precisely one of the key advocacy decisions we (yes, including YOU) took in mid-2010: That we (including YOU) were going to specifically champion several causes and “charter change” just happened to be one of them.

    Do you forget so easily, Ben?

    Anyway, that lawyer and constitutionalist is specifically working on reforming existing legislation that sets restrictions on the economy. It’s not specifically Constitutional Reform and thus is not particularly in scope as far as CoRRECT’s Public Advocacy is concerned. But he’s working on it with several top decision-makers, experts and in conjunction with legislators anyway because it is related to the kind of thrust that the CoRRECT Movement is fighting for.

    See? We’ve got that covered too!

    Just the same, in case you didn’t notice, the name of the advocacy is rather specific in its scope: Constitutional Reform & Rectification for Economic Competitiveness & Transformation

    Constitutional Reform. It doesn’t get any more specific than that, Ben.

    We specifically set out to increase awareness among the Public on the need for fixing the Constitution. Why the Constitution? Well, because if you raise awareness on the Constitution, you automatically raise awareness on any other legislation that is affected by any Constitutional Reforms made even without specifically mentioning those laws.

    We simply cannot afford to complicate our Public Message, Ben. Too many moving parts can confuse our audience. Too many things to remember may just mean that they won’t even remember anything we say.

    So we SIMPLIFY. We consolidate our message into the “Critical Few.”

    Remember the Bowling Ball analogy? Try playing bowling and aim to get a strike (10 pins downed in one go) and you will understand what I mean.

    Or look up the terms CHAIN REACTION and DOMINO EFFECT.

    Simple as that, Ben.

    1. You really should get your own website, you know. For several different reasons.

      Stop chasing me all over the Internet with what I said — in the confines of our confidential in-group discussions, btw, so thanks for keeping that where it belongs; I would imagine one other participant in that conversation is probably terrified now at your total lack of discretion — last July, because as YOU KNOW, because I’ve told you, and REPUBLISHED the very same within the last couple weeks, I had begun to moderate my position by November. By then, of course, you’d picked up this particular ball and run with it, froze the design — quite on your own authority, I might add — and consequently, are still running the same no-closer-to-getting-this-underway program you were last summer. Kind of like your President, who started his job about the same time, come to think of it.

      You have not even BEGUN to feel resistance yet; if you can’t handle my questioning your process, what the hell are you going to do when you come face-to-face with people who do not even agree with the objective, and stand to lose if you’re successful? Since we like airplane analogies, I’m a gnat compared to the Star Destroyers of Lopez, Tan, Cojuangco, Ayala, etc.

      This is not something you can half-ass. You cannot, for instance, be expected to make an impact towards “changing the protectionist provisions of the Constitution” when you have not even identified what they are. I used the garden analogy with one of my other commenters, and it’s entirely appropriate. You need to grow a garden to feed yourself, you have to plow up some ground. Then what? You got your seeds, your starter plants? According to you, that’s “out of your scope”. You’re focused on constitutional reform — plowing the ground. Know what happens when you stop there? You get weeds.

      Simple as that, Orion.

      1. There is of course no silver bullet solution to all our country’s illnesses, but constitutional reform does address some of the most glaring of our country’s problems. To name a few:

        1. The unholy alliance between gov’t and the very affluent few, aggravated if not caused by a seriously uneven playing field. Recently, Aquino brought along with him to China the very same people who practically enjoy an almost monopolistic influence over the business world in the Philippines. Some see it as a natural choice given their Chinese ancestry (Gokongwei, Sy, Lopez, etc.) However, this also shows that the very same faces would be in control (or at least have a say) over what businesses are going to be coming into the Philippines (so much for competition eh?…sigh). Compared to this, I find economic liberalization more even-handed and therefore more appealing. We should fleece out whatever protectionist clause could be found in our constitution.

        2. “Demokrasya” (democracy) is a mantra that pinoys use to justify mob-rule (especially with Pinoys who generally prefer the path of least resistance.) Democracy has for the longest time historically been frowned upon since even the ancients knew how easily it degenerates into mob-rule. However, the American founding fathers introduced not only the separation of powers but the modern notion of constitutional democracy which one hopes to mitigate the arbitrary whims of an unenlightened mob.

        Unfortunately, insofar as even ‘separation of powers’ goes, the Aquino admin not only tries to monopolize all branches of gov’t and fill them all with his own sympathizers and call everyone else evil, including the judiciary (the only professional branch not as easily given to popular mob mentality) but also installs certain mechanisms in place to tip the balance towards his executive branch.

        3. Aquino supporters keep this Ninoy and Cory hero worship alive, since it is through pedigree and neither through his competence nor qualifications that he draws support from many clueless individuals.

        The Parliamentary form may help make people put more emphasis on the proper criteria–ability to actually resolve issues instead of focusing on personality and celebrity.

        There has been this appearance of animosity between approaches within the GRP group. For example, whether it is cultural reform or simply economic liberalization that would do the trick. I’d say they aren’t really mutually exclusive. One need not be sacrificed to the detriment of the other. Like I said, no silver bullet solutions are clearly readily available. It may be a question of priority (though it may not even have to be,) but I think each of these approaches have their particular merits & strengths.

      2. Indeed, there is no silver bullet. And, me being consistent with my thesis that the very fundamental root of Da Pinoy’s inability to prosper is, I cite the nature of “constitional reform” being a political solution as having a weak causal relationship with the ability of Filipinos to prosper given the opportunity in an article I wrote a while back

        The cornerstone of my argument revolves around a simple problem statement (what I will refer to henceforth as the proposition being tested):

        Statement A: Does a society’s system of governance strongly determine its ability to prosper?

        In short, is..

        SoG => P

        (where: SoG = system-of-governance and P = prosperity)

        … a valid argument?

        I go on to make the hypothesis that System of governance is not a strong determinant of ability to prosper on the following bases:

        (1) Association does not imply a causal relationship — i.e. showing that prosperous societies tend to have parliamentary forms of government is a demonstration of correlation and NOT causality.; and,

        (2) Strong causality of SoG only extends to quality of leaders elected. But then as I’ve also explored in an even earlier article Who cares if Gloria is president after 2010?, good leaders does not necessarily translate to achievement when it comes to dealing with Pinoys.

        As usual, I’d cite my favourite case study of achievement that owes nothing to the quality of politics — the Filipino-Chinese, who were once “an ethnic underclass that succeed[ed] in hurdling prejudice, poverty, and cultural isolation to turn their ghettoes into today’s prime real estate while the indigenous people bred chaos, mutual oppression, and decay.” Indeed, they succeeded regardless of the existence of things Pinoys routinely make excuses about…

        …the Chinese community was with us through countless corrupt and inept administrations, they had to register their businesses in the same public offices, and they paid taxes to the same government. Furthermore, they landed on our shores, speaking not a word of English or Tagalog.

        Now that is GetRealism 101 — D’Original thesis that underpins what is now The Network that thousands of insightful minds have come to love.

        When one goes into a political advocacy then it becomes fair game for critique. Therefor, like anyone who decides to go into that field of endeavour, they need to be prepared to respond properly (if they decide to do so) to any views put out in a public forum like gentlemen. 😉

      3. @Asia West, the concentration of power under Aquino is exactly the sort of thing that happens in a Parliamentary system, albeit more efficiently and somewhat easier to change. So it does tend to make the ‘cultural’ side of things very important. This is not a new idea, as Plato said: “The city is what it is because the people are what they are.”

        I agree ‘system’ and ‘culture’ are not mutually-exclusive, but I also think it is unrealistic to expect that putting the balance of effort on one or the other does not necessarily improve both. Put good people in this bad system, and it will have poor results — I think the country has already had that experience. Put bad people in a good system, and it will also have poor results. Look at Parliamentary systems: for every Lee or Mahathir in history, you can pick out at least one Brown or Berlusconi. Both sides of the equation matter equally.

  2. I wonder if we can let anyone from the Anti-Pinoy group/followers run for a position of power and from there work their way up and get the shit off this country.

    1. You are actually participating at one of the sites of the Get Real Network. The bloggers here are no longer associated with Anti-Pinoy. Thanks. 😉

      1. No wonder I don’t see you guys much in antipinoy.com. I love your articles there. But anyways, I will still continue to read your articles (and even there) and enlighten myself and share these to my friends/fellowmen until they “get it” and “get real”.

        More power!

  3. We have very complicated problems, piled up, years by years, not attended to…we cannot reform, if the same people, we have will be in power. Same old bad habits will prevail. The reform is in the Constitution, but they will find good ways;to circumvent it; to maintain the Status Qou…Same Dogs, different Constitution…like the begining of the Aquino era…

  4. I’ve made these suggestions before, but I’ll put them here again for everyone’s benefit. The “Correct” group needs to:

    1. Form a formal organization. You are, in fact, a political party on the same par or better with some of the partylist organizations.

    2. Get a real website. Limiting your online activities to a Facebook indicates a certain lack of seriousness about the whole endeavor.

    3. Once you have that website, starting producing REAMS of information. As in real information, with specifics of the proposed reforms, and not cartoon YouTube videos or cringe-inducing, Communist-style political hymns. Stop taking your message down to the lowest level of the “hearts and minds” of the barefoots in the provinces, because in the absence of anything else in your public information, people who are smarter than that assume that is the ceiling of the planning and thought that has gone into this.

    4. And once you’ve given the people who have a right to know – you know, the public whose lives you’re trying to change – the specifics of the reforms, expect criticism and embrace it. You might learn something you’ve overlooked (like, gee I don’t know, maybe writing down the protectionist provisions that need to be changed?), you might learn a more effective approach or initiative, you will certainly learn what the people you’re trying to influence really think and want to see. There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat.

    1. Looking in from (outside of the box)…if there is such a movement to amend the 1987 Constitution like the CoRRECT Movement, we have not felt their presence yet! There is an on-going debate in Congress, maybe they can join in as the voice of the people…. I would like to hear real news about the progress of amending the constitution. It is unfortunate that the unworthy news that we are hearing is Pacquiao wanting to become the next VP then later upgraded himself wanting to become president.

      Think about this, the people who are working as a BPO agent, employees at McDonald’s, employees at the malls have some kind of college degree. Does anybody even ask why the hell to become president or a senator or even a congressman in the Philippines do not require to be educated? They just need to be able to read / write / at least 40 years of age to be president?

      Here is another logic, anyone wants to be a doctor; however, to be a doctor you have to have gone to medical school in order to practice medicine, to be a lawyer –you have to go to law school, to be an engineer– you have to go to engineering school, to be dentist– you have to go to dental school….. here is the punch line: to be the president, senator, or congressman— you do not need to be educated you just need to know how to read and write.

      Being a president, you need to have some kind of intelligence or better IQ to have the right to govern the people. They owe it to the country. We learned this the hard way with ERAP, and FPJ almost got it and now here comes Pacquaio, who did not even completed his elementary school.

      Just to name a few people who are in office currently without holding a college degree…

      Senator Bong Revilla
      Senator Lito Lapid
      Cong. Lani Mercado
      Gov. Vilma Santos
      Cong. Manny Pacquiao

      Amending the constitution will need more than abolishing the economic restriction, but needs further change esp the qualification of people who wants to be president or even a senator….like
      requiring them to have a

      – master degree or a doctorate degree.
      – had experienced be president of a prestigious organization.
      – etc. etc. etc…..

  5. Man…

    There are quibbles, then again, there are ARGUMENTS. This impressive exchange of thoughts separates the MEN from the boys. No offense I1da.

  6. Democracy in the Philippines has seriously deteriorated into mob-rule. Like what I’ve said

    “…the American founding fathers introduced not only the separation of powers but the modern notion of constitutional democracy which one hopes to mitigate the arbitrary whims of an unenlightened mob.”

    Well, our pinoy adaptation of the US democratic presidential system turned out to be nothing more than a hollowed-out shell of its US original, void of any appreciation for the wisdom that is the real power behind it.—It turned out to be “democratic” only by name and not in actual practice. The check and balance for which both the separation of powers and the constitution were meant to secure are being thrown out the window. First the constitution was trampled upon, then came the blatant disregard for the separation of powers. AbNoy only knows one form of gov’t—a monopolistic oligarchy.

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