Co-equalism-A A +A
An Independent View
Sunday, February 10, 2013
CONSTITUTIONALLY, the Philippines’ government structure is similar to that of the United States. We both have decision-making power shared between three co-equal branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. This structure well captures a fundamental principle of democracy, namely that diffusion of decision making power is essential. The upside is that, theoretically, we avoid extremism. The downside is that “gridlock” can occur in which competing factions may cause no decision, or an extremely watered-down decision, or a hugely delayed decision to be made.
In the US, President Obama has promised to soon introduce legislation to ease the rules relating to immigration policy. He states that the legislation could be passed within six months. I wish him well but fear that he will be fortunate to have any significant legislation introduced before the end of his term in January 2017.
The impetus for relaxing immigration rules is mainly economic. The American economy has depended substantially on recent migrants. By 1900, due significantly to its fairly free immigration policy, the US became the largest economy in the world. It still is, but China is catching up fast. By 2020, if present trends continue, China will be Number 1 and the US No. 2. For many Americans, this is an unpalatable state of affairs. If the US loosened its immigration girdle, the US economy will, arguably, grow rapidly – in contrast to its economic performance since 2008.
The first question is what should be done about the 11 million living in America on no legal basis whatsoever. There will be heated debates. There are those who say that these illegal immigrants, if allowed to have their status regularized, will show that not obeying the immigration rules is ultimately to their advantage.
Then there will be those who recognize that unskilled American workers who, nevertheless receive high wages by international standards, will find employment even more difficult to obtain than at present. They will be pushed aside by new immigrants prepared to accept poorer conditions.
Immigration, then, is a vexed question. Two of the three co-equal branches of government – the Executive and the Legislative – will work hard to devise a policy which is acceptable. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible. The third co-equal branch, the Judiciary, is likely to be involved as well, since there will be a high possibility of onstitutional challenges addressed to the Supreme Court. Our powerful Supreme Court is currently examining the Constitutionality of the RH Bill.
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In the Philippines, the co-equal branches of government “enjoy” a creative tension which hopefully leads to better decision-making.
Since 2010, we have seen the Executive Branch, specifically the Department of Education, go beyond its range of authority and try to usurp the role of Congress by defining, prematurely, the Act which would determine the Nation’s education strategy (K-12). In so doing, DepEd neglected its Executive role. It was gently reminded of this when our elected Senators (who in 2013 will need a minimum of 12 million votes to gain election), last December indicated that the real priorities in education were that only 66% of students pass the supposedly compulsory grade school (meaning 34% do not complete grade school) and of the 66% only half complete four years of high school education. This means only 33% of our students complete high school. The main plank of DepEd’s proposal was, for uncompelling reasons, to stretch out the four year high school education to six years.
Our elected representatives in Senate, quite properly, directed DepEd to conduct a review and submit a report to the legislative as regards the reported shortages of teachers, chairs, toilets and other school facilities. ‘Come back during SY 2014-2015’ DepEd was told.
Unfortunately, DepEd has ejaculated prematurely and has wrongly assumed that students entering high school in June 2012 were embarking on a six year course. This has caused problems in some of our private schools which has accepted DepEd’s ‘enjoinments’ to participate in the dormant K-12. For example, many first year high school students at Bacolod Tay Tung High School graduated from Grade 6 in April 2012 with the intention of taking a four year High School course and enrolling in tertiary education in June 2016. DepEd has illicitly thrown a spammer in the works and first year high school students are spending excessive amounts of time on time-wasting “programs” and “projects” instead of, as hitherto, embarking on a serious, academically sound, four year course. We hope BTTHS and, where relevant, other private schools can address this issue and get back on a proper academic track.
Students need a proper four year course, not a wishy-washy six year one.
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“Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten” - B.F. Skinner 1964
Skinner is correct. We need an education system which emphasizes understanding over mere rote learning. Then, more Filipinos will be globally competitive.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 11, 2013.