How to remove a tyrannous president

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2013 - 12:00am

Constitutional reform advocates have pointed to the superiority of parliamentary government from a presidential system. They reason that the removal of a prime minister and his government is contained within Parliament through a no-confidence vote. Life in general goes on with a permanent civil service manning government operations. The opposition is immediately ready to take over being the alternative government in place.

On the other hand, the removal of a President and his government through the process of impeachment shakes the entire country, unsettles the population and brings economic disruption. And yet there comes a time when bad government becomes intolerable and needs to be removed because of incompetence endangering the state. The mess of an impeachment as in the case of former President Joseph Estrada was skirted with the walkout of the prosecutors in the Senate supported by an Edsa 2 protest led by the Church. Gratefully, the military came in, as mandated by the Constitution to support and stabilize the state.

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Therefore, on the question of how to remove a leader parliamentary structure of government may be less complicated and it would be less prone to violent upheaval. (CNP: Nevertheless, it cannot be expected to happen overnight. Thailand is now parliamentary but undergoing birthing pains on how it is to be done with the elements of the past still taking hold of the body politic. But it can be developed in time and was certainly possible in more politically mature Great Britain). For us, in the threshold of constitutional reform, it would be an ideal to seek how to remove a leader in the least painful and peaceful manner).

It is the position we are in now. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Aquino government needs to be removed after its unconstitutional acts (using PDAF and DAP for bribing legislators) its dismal failure in managing the Yolanda tragedy not to mention that questions have been raised about the conduct of elections in 2010 and 2013.

Since we do not have a parliamentary system we will have to make do (for the time being with how to remove the president) with the presidential system. For this, we need once more to return sovereignty to the people and the support of the only nationwide organized groups – the Church and the military.

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Karl Popper, the democracy guru, is even harder on the issue on how to remove a leader. He does not distinguish between parliamentary or presidential system in removing a leader.

“You can choose whatever name you like for the two types of government. I personally call the type of government that can be removed without violence as a “democracy,” and the other as a “tyranny.” In the context of Philippine experience using Popper’s formula the question is how do we remove the  “tyranny” that the Aquino government has become. It regards the rule of law in contempt and has destroyed institutions with the vague promise to “rid” government of graft and corruption while committing the same. It is time that the sovereign people step in or we will not have a state to protect only the tatters of a divided nation.

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Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno was in Bicol recently and spoke about constitutional reform. He cited genuine local autonomy as an important step in leveling the playing field in our politics.

“The tragedy is, under our present constitution , this sad state of affairs has little chance of ending. There will be no end to its endlessness because our elections are tilted in favor of the rich. The poor cannot win an election in our country even as a dog catcher.

The wealthy political dynasties now reigning in our land can never be dislodged by the money-less masses. We need a constitutional change to level the playing field. But let me warn that blocking the ingress to power by the masses to preserve its monopoly by the few will cause the slow death of democracy. To be sure, democracy is not the rule of the few even if it is not the mob rule of the many. There is no democracy if the few who are up will always be up in the totem pole of power, in defiance of the law of gravity. Nor is there democracy by requiring the poor to walk on the water before they can levitate to the top of society. Democracy can only survive if they who govern represent the synthesis of interests of all classes of society.

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My second thesis for your consideration is that we can never unlock the potential of our people unless we grant our local governments genuine autonomy thru constitutional change. I say genuine autonomy because the kind of economy allowed to our local governments leaves much to be desired.

There is no need to present irrefutable evidence to prove that this submission carries the ring of truth. Our Local Government Code is already an old law but regrettably, it has not brought the boons of peace, progress and prosperity to filter down to our municipalities, cities and provinces. I need not convince you about the self-evident truth for your five senses will tell you it is the truth here in the Bicol Peninsula. Here in Bicol, you sit on the richest natural resources in our country yet your region suffers from underdevelopment.

Here in Bicol, you have some of the most beautiful beaches, mountains and volcanoes in our country, yet your region has not developed into a tourist destination. Here in Bicol, you have a high variety of agricultural products with exportable grade but the lack of roads, ports and airports prevent you from enjoying their value. Even a sideglance at the state of your infrastructures — your hospitals, your schools, your courthouses, your markets, your government offices — will reveal their state of disrepair and obsolescence and the blame does not belong to your local governments.

The fingerpointing and handwashing will never end but, the real culprit is the structure of government we have adopted in our Constitution. …Our Constitution granted more power to our President more than what other Constitutions have given their equivalent Presidents. For this reason, legal scholars concur in the view that in terms of power, the President of the Philippines wields more power than the President of the United States.”



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