THE House Committee on Constitutional Amendments is about to come out with a draft proposal for a federal constitution. Because the House represents vested interest and not the aspirations of the majority, it is time to ponder what provisions to watch out for in the federal constitution.
To me the most crucial would be a constitutionally mandated self-executing reform of our voting system. The current one allows only the rich and powerful (including drug lords) to win elections. Unless reformed, traditional politicians will continue their exclusive and self-serving control of the country’s politics and economy.
Main item in this reform is proportionate representation in government. This can be done by voting no longer for an individual’s persona but for the executive and legislative agenda of political parties which should be constituted into public institutions and, therefore, funded by government. This way, all parties have a basic fund to run their campaigns thus equalizing opportunities for all sectors to be represented in government.
To be accredited, political parties must submit a philosophy of government and a legislative and executive agenda for the next four to six years. They must also have a list of a minimum number of card-carrying party members who are not allowed to transfer to another party.
In a party system of representation, nobody shall be allowed to run as an independent candidate. People will vote for a party’s program of government. The party will simply list in the order of priority the members that will occupy the seats or offices the party has won.
This system not only assures proportionate representation it also simplifies vote- counting and minimizes expense. Instead of counting the votes of thousands of individual candidates, Comelec only has to count the votes a party gets. Instead of individuals spending millions in TV, radio and print ads for the desired name recall, their party only has to provide voters with its program of government and its priority list of members who will assume office should their party get the electorate’s mandate.
Finally, it is most crucial that all these provisions are self-executing and need no implementing law. We don’t want the situation of the constitutional ban on political dynasties where we have a very nice provision for which vested interests in government refuse to enact an implementing law.
If there was a way in the current form of government to reform the voting system, we do not really have to shift to federalism. But whatever the form of government, it is most crucial that legislative seats and executive offices cease to be the exclusive turf of rich individuals that today include drug lords.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 08, 2017.
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