Amie Joy Antolin

Amie Joy Antolin

Thursday, 06 July 2017 09:59

The Deegong, the imperial President

Last of a 3-part series

THE Philippine presidency consists of the President, his immediate staff and the collective units, principally the Cabinet, reporting directly to the President. Handed down by the US colonial administration, our presidential system hews closely to the American model, although there are dissimilarities. Traditionally, the Philippine presidency encompasses the whole Executive Department, following the cherished republican ideal of “checks and balances” among the three major branches of government.

President Duterte’s official acts, and those of his Cabinet and advisers are what constitute the collective decisions of the Office of the President (OP). The Cabinet is the primary bureaucracy from where the levers of presidential powers are exercised, and monitoring and feedback mechanisms are coursed. In organizational parlance, the Cabinet is a line function. Advisory bodies develop around the presidency complementing the Cabinet, and have staff functions along with the President’s personal coterie. There is a distinction between the two sets of bodies within the OP: the preeminent Cabinet secretaries whose appointments are confirmed by the congressional Commission on Appointments, and the appointed presidential personal staff and advisers that are not answerable to Congress and therefore owe personal loyalty to the President.

Like an impresario, the President conducts the country’s affairs through these disparate groups of people who by the very nature of their jobs are required to possess political skills aside from the particular expertise for which the President have chosen them. The integral element in running effectively the executive offices is their proximity to the President. By definition too, this proximity is equated with power; and power is the main currency in the political dynamics.

This is the contemporary structure of the presidency in a republican framework. Its precedents go back to the “royal court” of a monarchy where the occupants were solely answerable to the sovereign. The monarchical structure no longer exists but the vestiges of the archaic interactions and presidential largesse are still ritually dispensed upon the select; but also, the immediate and deadly retribution upon the disfavored. The current President almost solely determines the fate of his subordinates, giving the premium for their survival in the bureaucracy the trait of telling him only what he wants to hear.

Alpha male PresidentThe President’s strongman demeanor is a real one and has been honed through the cauldron of his political experience in a city once controlled by criminal and ideologically unacceptable elements. These problems were often solved, by his own admission, by disregarding some “niceties of the rule of law”. His no-nonsense approach to political governance was effective locally and he is now applying the formula on a larger scale, for the whole country. PRRD is a self-directed public manager always setting his own goals, pushing the boundaries of discretion. And here is where it becomes complicated.

How do his subalterns relate with an alpha male of a President? In this particular case, President Duterte’s presence is the dominating specter hovering over the OP; and with his propensity to act decisively on a mere “whiff of corruption,” this, I submit, strikes fear in the hearts of even the virtuous. Add to that his propensity to act and decide without proper consultation with his Cabinet. Indeed, a dominant and domineering personality will intimidate the people around him. As a counter-measure, the participation of alpha males/females in the Cabinet is an imperative. Strong Presidents should have strong-minded advisers. The absence of an ardent “imperial court of advisers” to the presidency is a disservice to an office where policy discourse on good governance is primarily fueled by healthy debate and a clash of ideas.

Echoing Schlesinger’s hypothesis on the making of an imperial presidency, all of the above contribute to the weakness of a presidency in a republican state that allows the appearance of an imperial President with “strongman” attributes. President Rodrigo Duterte fits this description.

Weak checking mechanism

Two other elements contribute to the making of an imperial presidency; a weak, or the absence of a, checking mechanism of Congress and the Constitution itself. Part 1 of this series (“Self-castration of Congress”) described how both houses of the legislative branch surrendered their prerogatives in checking the executive branch.

As to the Constitution, the President has not yet been proven to have breached any of its dictates but his constant threats against its ultimate arbiter and interpreter, the Supreme Court, comes close to a transgression.

Pimentel reacts to Duterte defying SC, Congress:“Alarmed, but no need to act”(May 29, 2017 @inquirerdotnet)

“Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd on Monday defended President Rodrigo Duterte from critics, saying he did not violate the law by making remarks about defying the Supreme Court (SC) and Congress on martial law.”

Duterte defies Supreme Court (@inquirerdotnet, August 10, 2016)

“I’m giving you a warning. Don’t create a crisis because I will order everybody in the executive department not to honor you,” Mr. Duterte told (Supreme Court Chief Justice) Sereno, in his remarks before the military in Cagayan de Oro City.

“You want me to be frank? You’re interfering (with my job)… Please, don’t order me. I’m not a fool. If this continues, (that) you’re trying to stop me, I might lose my cool. Or would you rather I declare martial law?”

The proposition that now shapes the national conversation is whether President Duterte, with all his flaws, is what this country needs. In Part 1 & 2 of this series, a case was being developed that the frustrations of the Filipino—stark poverty and corruption in all levels of government; the downward spiral toward stasis from the early days of the Republic— precipitated the seething anger that found relief from an outsider whose message and personality resonated with the voters. Duterte the foul-mouth visionary whose claim to fame is the deliverance of a city from the political abyss of centralized government neglect, carpeted his governance with the corpses of the “dregs of society”. He openly declared as his platform that he will do the same for the whole country if elected President. We elected him President.

His current 75 percent support from the populace reinforced its clarion call for such a man and certainly put to rest the question that the Filipino needs this imperial President Rodrigo Duterte.
Friday, 19 May 2017 07:58

CDPI Summer Youth Leaders Dialogue

The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) will be holding its 1st CDPI Summer Youth Leaders Dialogue on the 23rd of May 2017 at Hotel Vicente, Davao City.

It will be a one-day event participated by student-leaders from various colleges and universities in Davao City. The goal of the youth leaders’ dialogue is to gather ideas and understand different perspectives in the topics of federalism, democracy and youth leadership in the midst of the present political structures.

Furthermore, it is the general aim of this activity to engage potential youth leaders in enhancing their knowledge in the field of governance and politics and to raise their awareness and commitment to take on leadership roles.

Miss Rochelle C. Sanaga and Jessalyn C. Jayag will present the CDPI as an organization, what they do and what the organization is all about. Mr. Ted Lorenzo A. Lago and Joshua Adrian S. Cericos will present the role of the youth in the process of federalism.

There will be presentations of outputs and round-table discussions every after each presentation to cater questions and to deepen the participants’ understanding of the topics.
The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) – with its new tagline of “Partido Para Pederalismo”, has successfully hosted the 8th National Congress on the 6th of May 2017 at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City, Philippines.

Secretary Ernesto C. Abella, who was one of the invited keynote speakers along with Senate President Aquilino “Koko" Pimentel, talked about the programs of the Duterte administration. He was glad that the CDP share the same vision with the administration and that federalism will most likely take place in the Duterte government but only when the people is willing to take an active part in such change.

With optimism, Sec. Abella said that “it takes a nation, to build a nation” and the way forward is through federalism.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, the PDP-LABAN President, also spoke about their party’s version of roadmap to federalism.

CDP and PDP-LABAN have similar ideological underpinnings although the CDP’s position on some issues has a slight twist with that of the PDP-Laban stance: a unicameral versus a bicameral parliament; a ceremonial president versus a strong one; and the Prime Minister as Head of Government leading towards an eventual Federal system of government. The major divergence in both position is in the question of timing of the restructuring of political elements.

The CDP passed a resolution to thresh out differences of the two positions in a meeting to be represented by coordinating bodies of PDP-LABAN and CDP.
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) in partnership with the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung-Philippines will be gathering experts in political party building and federalism in establishing a working roadmap for a Federal-Parliamentary Philippines this coming 5 May 2017 in Hotel Vicente, Davao City, Philippines.

The dialogue will serve as a venue to discuss important topics such as successful political parties and the best practices of other countries that follows a Federal-Parliamentary form of government.

In essence, the objectives of the forum is to understand the experiences of other countries when it comes to political party management and federal-parliamentary government and appreciate its implications. Eventually, the end game is to come up with a working roadmap for a Federal and Parliamentary Philippines.

Mr. Roderico Y. Dumaug Jr. is currently teaching at Xavier University and the chairperson of the CDP Iligan City Chapter. He will be presenting case studies of successful political party management and strategies.

Mr. Ryan Maboloc, a professor from the Ateneo de Davao University, will be presenting successful federal and parliamentary governments with strong political parties.

Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, CDPI president and founder will be presenting the working roadmap for a Federal and Parliamentary Philippines.

An open forum will take place after the presentations.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 06:52

CDP holds its 13th National Council Meeting

The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) – Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya will be having its 13th National Council Meeting on May 5, 2017 at Hotel Vicente, Davao City, Philippines to discuss and further its local and national initiatives in pursuing a Federal-Parliamentary Philippines as one of its major advocacies.

More than a hundred of elected representatives from different CDP chapters around the country will be attending. Aside from the elected delegates coming from various cities, municipalities and provinces, CDP elective officials through its organized group Simula ng Bagong Umaga Landasin (SIBUL) headed by Cong. Maximo Rodriguez, Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP), and the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) are also expected to participate.

There will be a reading, adoption, and approval of the Minutes of the 12th National Council (NC) Meeting and the present Agenda of the 13th National Council Meeting. Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, the Centrist Democratic Party President, will give the open remarks and the introduction before the council.

Reports regarding the update from the Office of the National Secretariat, Sector Associations (CDYAP and SIBUL) and updates from all chapters will be presented. Hon. Maximo B. Rodriguez, Second District of Cagayan de Oro City Representative and the CDP-SIBUL Chairperson, will present the legislative initiatives of CDP in the House of Representatives.

The council meeting will also hold discussions and approval on the CDP Operations Management and Oversight Board Workshop, Proposed Amendments of the Constitution and Bylaws, Proposed Working Documents of the Thematic Commissions.

The party chairperson will report on the strategic recruitment, nationwide Federalism campaign, and progress report of the CDPI Fellows’ initiatives. The concluding message will be given by the party president.
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 06:45

CDP holds 8th National Congress

The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines will hold its 8th National Congress on May 6, 2017 at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City, Philippines.

The program will commence with the welcome remarks of Atty. Rufus B. Rodriguez, the CDP President. Afterwards, there will be a presentation of formulated resolutions during the 13th National Council Meeting to be lead by Mr. Jordan Jay C. Antolin, the Secretary General of the Centrist Democratic Party and the Executive Director of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute.

One of the main highlight of this event is the keynote message to be delivered by the Senator President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel.

The program will be capped off with a solidarity message from the CDP Chairman, Mr. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana.
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute together with Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS)-Philippines has conducted a Thematic Conference and Workshop on Political Party Management and Development in One Pacific Hotel, Makati City last 17- 18 March 2016.

Mr. Jordan Jay C. Antolin, executive director of CDPI started the workshop by presenting the rationale of the event. As he said, the framework of which the party functions and responds to the pressing national issues is essentially based on the official stand as approved with all the members of the national council, reflective of the party’s platform and principles.

Miss Cristita Marie L. Giangan, MPMD, Program Manager at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines, presented the Aspects of Political Party and Sector Management. According to Miss Giangan, the national leaders of the party are the also managers with responsibility and control of the party. Effectiveness and efficiency must be its guiding principles.

Mr. Benedikt Seemann, Country Director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines discussed the creation of commissions in a political party and how to sustain them. He said that a political party essentially aggregates the interest of the people on the ground. The party consults and agrees in democratic process the general representation and priorities of members and chapters.

The next session was facilitated by Mr. Roderico Y. Dumaog, Chairperson of the CDP Iligan City Chapter. He facilitated a discussion and workshop on political party thematic commissions. He presented the function of the four principal commissions: home affairs commission, socio-economic affairs commission, and intervention and security affairs commission, political and constitutional reforms.

The event ended with each commission presenting their action plan and proposed party stand on the issues vis-à-vis the political platform of the party.

Mr. Lorenzana, the CDPI Chairman, reiterated that internal brainstorming and strategic planning is important in any organization, especially in a political party. And because of that, internal affairs and strategies must be settled and become harmonious with the political party’s agenda, else the party will lose its direction.
The Centrist Democracy Political Institute together with Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS)-Philippines will be conducting a Thematic Conference and Workshop on Political Party Management and Development at One Pacific Hotel, Makati City on 17- 18 March 2016.

The rationale of the conference and workshop is to present the status of major parties in terms of daily operations and management and how CDPI will be able to address the demand for trainings, workshops, conferences and in terms of developing their thematic commissions.

Miss Cristita Marie L. Giangan, MPMD, Program Manager at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines, will be presenting the Aspects of Political Party and Sector Management. She will discuss the general aspects of party management and on how the mother party will relate its programs, advocacies, and efforts to its established sector associations (and vice versa).

Mr. Benedikt Seemann, Country Director of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines will be discussing the Creation of Commissions in a Political Party and How to sustain them: The Case of the Christian Democratic Union, how it has established and the method of selection of members, among others.

The next session will be facilitated by Mr. Roderico Y. Dumaog, Chairperson of the CDP Iligan City Chapter. He will be facilitating a discussion and workshop on political party thematic commissions.

Mr. Renato G. Tibon, Fellow and Concilium Member, Centrist Democracy Political Institute, will be giving a discussion on Political Party Structural Framework vis-à-vis Work Relations & Dynamics of Thematic Commissions.

Prof. Maria Lourdes N. Tiquia, Founder and General Manager, Publicus Asia, Ltd. and also a member of the CDPI National Board of Advisers, will be giving a presentation of case studies on successful party management and strategies. She will be presenting a set of case studies of at least two political parties that are successful in terms of internal party management.

The thematic conference and workshop will hopefully help the participants understand the principles and mechanisms of political party work and development.
Thursday, 23 February 2017 13:23

"Thou Shall Not Die"

Davao- Yesterday, the Ateneo de Davao University hosted a forum on Death Penalty in the Philippines in collaboration with APILA, Law School, Amnesty International-Philippines, SAMAPULA, and SS-SEC at the Finster Auditorium of Ateneo de Davao University. The forum was participated by representatives from different organizations, sectors, and the university faculty and students.

With its theme, “Thou Shall Not Die”, the forum was opened by Atty. Romeo T. Cabarde, Jr. through reiterating the values of the university as a Jesuit and Catholic school. He said that there may be conflicting ideas between the values held by the university and that of the present administration but this essentially opens up for constructive discussions and informed presentation of ideas.

The forum was headed by the first speaker and followed up by three reactors coming from different organizations and sectors.

The main presenter, Atty. Ray Paolo D. Santiago of the Ateneo Human Rights Center of Ateneo de Manila University, presented the following propositions against the re-imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines: first,the move to re-impose the bill is unconstitutional; second, it violates the international law; third, Death Penalty does not deter criminality; fourth, Death Penalty is subject to judicial power, and lastly, it targets those who live below the poverty line. Atty. Santigao showed compelling recent statistics to substantiate the following propositions.

Atty. Arnold C. Abejaron from the legal sector was the first reactor. He said that the re-imposition of the Death Penalty will eventually carry economic repercussions not just legal once because of the binding agreement we had with other countries through signed international treaties. Basically, the congress cannot pass the law without violating the international commitment.

“Can you restore the life of the victim by killing the criminal?” said Fr. Orlando A. Angela, a Theologian, presented the church’s take on the re-imposition of the Death Penalty which according to him is morally wrong in virtue of the sanctity of life and will only inspire vengeance among the victims’ families.

The last reactor was Mister Rey Andrew Villafuerte from the Amnesty International-Philippines. According to Mister Villafuerte, the greatest danger posited by the re-imposition of the bill is that it can be subject to erroneous interpretations and vulnerable to discrimination. Ultimately, the Death Penalty is a denial of the criminal’s right to rehabilitation and restorative justice.
SENATOR Alan Peter Cayetano, a key administration ally, on Thursday said he will seek an explanation from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on why it had recommended the acquittal of pork barrel scam brains Janet Napoles in a case for illegal detention.

“On the Napoles case, like you, I’m also asking for an explanation… Like you, I also want the [Solicitor General] to answer. But I guarantee you that the President will not allow any corruption to happen during the administration. And he will not absolve those who were corrupt in past administrations,” Cayetano said at the sidelines of a Senate inquiry into the bribery scandal at the Bureau of Immigration.

Cayetano was reacting to a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report that the new lawyers at the OSG had filed with the Court of Appeals a manifestation recommending the acquittal of Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention filed by her second cousin, pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

The manifestation cited evidence that Luy, a former aide of Napoles, was free to move even if he was staying in a retreat house.

Napoles is the alleged mastermind of the scheme in which lawmakers got kickbacks from the Priority Development Assistance Fund, also known as pork barrel, by funneling the money through bogus non-governmental organizations.

Cayetano blamed the previous administration for building a weak case against Napoles and letting some personalities go scot-free.

“Why is it that the cases filed during the Aquino administration were weak? We foresaw that at that time because the big cases like ‘Hello Garci’ (2004 election fraud) were neglected. Here with Napoles, many were excluded from the cases filed by the previous administration,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel however believes there is “very strong evidence” against Napoles in her pork barrel-related cases.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said this as he defended the OSG’s move, which he said would not affect the strength of pork barrel scam cases filed against Napoles.

“It will never be affected because these are two different cases,” Panelo told reporters.

He reiterated that it was Solicitor General Jose Calida’s duty as the top government lawyer to review cases.

“If upon review of the case, the OSG feels that it has no evidence to get a conviction [and]that there is [no]proof beyond reasonable doubt, then it is his duty under the Constitution and the law to state his position that there is no such case against the accused,” he said.

“Otherwise you will be creating injustice putting an innocent person behind bars,” Panelo added.

Malacañang on Thursday belied claims that Calida was lawyering for Napoles.

“He’s just simply trying to correct want he thinks, what he sees, what he perceives is something that needs to be rectified,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.
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