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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Monday, July 25, 2005

Hobson's Choice

She did not come to disappoint …. at least to her savior, former President Ramos.

One of the most applauded but anticipated part of her SONA was the proposal for Charter change, from a would-be President Noli de Castro to an almost certain Prime Minister Joe de Venecia.

The president's announcement could not come at a worse time for the country. In a short span of less than a month, she issued forth two proposals: first, the Truth Commission and second, Charter Change. There is logic to the purpose of her proposals: to divide, confuse and obfuscate our countrymen and lead them away from the people's true choice: impeachment.

Her first proposal was the formation of a Truth Commission. Supposedly to ferret out the truth of the Garci tapes and election fraud, the president also demands as a quid pro quo the identities of personalities seeking her destruction and of the office of which she sits.

Her second proposal is to change the Constitution through a constituent assembly, specifically, from a presidential to a federal cum unicameral system of government. Its laudable purpose is to decentralize and defuse economic and political power from the tyranny of Manila.

But these two proposals are unwise for the following reasons:

First, the costs. The expense of sustaining the Truth Commission will likely run to tens, possibly hundreds, of millions if its mandate is to investigate electoral fraud and identify the conspiracy. That would mean the opening and tediouis review of a multitude of election returns down to the precinct level, not to mention the gathering of other testimonial and documentary evidences. That alone would take months to undertake. And the commissioners would have to rely on a secretariat employing hundreds of people who should be familiar with electoral law and its processes. Otherwise, the Commission would be reinventing the wheel.

In the Constituent Assembly or Con-Ass, I heard, rightly or wrongly, Speaker de Venecia saying that a Con-Ass would only cost 9 billion pesos, a lot less than a constitutional convention, as if it was chump change. But listening to the SONA, the President earlier mentioned she shepherded the enactment of the not-so-"masa"-friendly EVAT to address precisely the fiscal imbalance of our government expenditures so that our children's children would not have to pay our present debt.

And so, where will she get the money for both proposals? Does the president, instead of paring down the budget deficit, now intend to apply the proceeds from these taxes to fund both the Truth Commission and the Constituent Assembly? If that is so, the SONA is inherently inconsistent and at war with itself.

Second, these two proposals are innately divisive. In the Truth Commission, whatever truth to be unearthed will never fully satisfy the administration or the opposition because its purpose is not to heal our land but to lay blame and find fault on the perpetrators of fraud. Its recommendation will ultimately demand a pound of flesh on the guilty party.

In charter change, proponents believe that the present system is radically flawed and needs a structural overhaul. Opponents hold that the present system can be institutionally improved through novel ideas, better laws and a firm political will. In addition, the very idea of constituent assembly is anathema to ideologues who believe that a constitutional convention is the preferred mode of charter change to prevent the present powers from deriving benefit from it.

These are the two proposals that the President has foisted upon us. Given our country's present fiscal chaos, the President, being an economist, should have offered economic solutions to our economic difficulties. But the solutions she proposed are not even economical. Instead, she offers political solutions to a political quagmire of her own making, political solutions meant for her political survival. And that is what makes the two proposals a Hobson's choice.

2 Comments:

Anonymous rambo said...

it is chump change at least according to jdv.

have you seen dequiros. i wonder if they printed it on the paper just like that?

one whole page full of hello garci....hell garci.....

i think he lost it. :)

11:44 AM  
Anonymous edwin said...

rambo,

Yes, the one full page of hello garci appeared in hardcopy too. de quiros is de quiros. If he cannot sway you with logic or morality, he will sway you with parody or insanity. :)

12:54 PM  

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