[Blueboard] Discussing Politics 1

asalvador at ateneo.edu asalvador at ateneo.edu
Tue Aug 30 10:06:56 PHT 2005

Pls post- thanks.


The Ateneo Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences
launches its political commentary series or "Discussing Politics".
Part-time and full time faculty members of the department write down
their views on how the present government should be re-configured in
terms of institutional design for better governance.

The objectives of this exercise are two fold: First, to highlight the
features of the present government and examine how these can be
re-arranged through legislation or charter change. This way we do not
resort to blind references of "parliamentarism", "presidentialism" or
"federalism". Second, the Department seeks to participate in the current
debate on forms of government, reforms and charter change and desires to
link the community at large with the resources it has at hand.

Your comments are welcome.
> Millard Lim, Lecturer, Department of Political Science
> According to the present Constitution (Article VII, Section 4): The
> President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the
> people for a term of six years . . . "
> Some comments may be made about this manner of electing the president
> and filling the presidency:
> 1.        It is a 70-year old practice.  It even predates Philippine
> independence.
> 2.        It is a colonial legacy.  The 1935 Constitution was drafted by
> 1934 Constitutional Convention when the Philippines was an American
colony. It was almost inevitable therefore for the newly-independent
colony to pattern its institutions after the colonial master.
> The way the 1987 Constitution is formulated ("shall be elected by
> direct vote of the people"), there does seem to be alternative ways of
> electing the president. Election by direct vote of the people is just
one way.
> (An exceptional period was from June 1978 to June 1981.  On January 17,
> 1973 a new constitution took effect.   The 1973 Constitution created a
> symbolic president who is head of state and a prime minister who is head
of government and vested with the executive power).
The table presents some of the positive and not-so-positive features of
> a system whereby the president is elected by direct popular vote.
> (+)        Sense of political efficacy on the part of the voter: I can
> directly
> choose the top leader of the land;
> > (+) Potentially strong and activist president: because s/he has direct
> popular mandate
> > (-) Nationwide campaigning: expensive elections;
> Congress as the national canvassing body: winner-selection politicized;
> > (-) Vote count and canvassing process: long, tedious,  susceptible to
> fraud and manipulation;
> Dilemma: a very powerful office filled through a process that is
> susceptible to fraud and error.
> The present leadership controversy is rooted in the suspicion that the
> May 2004 presidential election was fraud-ridden and the result
> therefore is dubious.  The long and tedious  process of canvassing
presidential electoral returns is susceptible to fraud particularly at
levels when electoral returns are prepared by the Board of Elections
Inspectors and when COCs are prepared by the Board of Canvass.
> Moreover, compared to COCs, election returns (ERs) are more reliable
> because they serve like ballots themselves. The COC, on the other hand,
> is based on the ER.  Mistakes in the ER can then be transferred to the
> COC.   For instance, in the last canvass (June 2004), the party of FPJ
> and Bro. Eddie and their supporters in Congress were requesting the
> Special Committee to refer to the ER.  In the last canvass (June 2004),
> the party of FPJ and Bro. Eddie and their supporters in Congress were
> requesting the Special Committee to refer to the ER.
> We face a dilemma: The ER has greater reliability than the COC, yet the
> Constitution itself (Article VII, Section 4) orders Congress to canvass
> the COC (and only the COC) and proclaim the president-elect and
> VP-elect based on the COC results.  The Constitution therefore is
instructing Congress to base its proclamation of the winners on the most
> fraud-prone election document.
> AUTOMATION:  The law directs Comelec to automate elections.  Election
> automation however is hindered and obstructed by irregularities in the
> procurement process.
> REDESIGN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS:  Election of the president by direct
> popular vote is just one alternative way of choosing and changing the
> president.  The president may be elected by a small group of electors.
> This alternative does away with at-large (nation-wide) elections that
> are too costly, too tedious, and too open to irregularities and

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