Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: August 2018
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 11:54

Federalism overtaken by events

IF we go by the headlines, federalism could be dead, or put in the back burner until some future date, perhaps in the next generations to come—a sad prospect. The election circus fever has caught up with us and the Yellow Army has won this one. The 1987 Cory Constitution by the grace of God, will now continue to guide our governance. This is a nightmare, true, especially for federalism advocates.

This conjecture is not without basis. As many suspected from the very start, the federalism champion, Mayor Duterte mined the frustration of the people in the periphery by pitting them against the center. This was an emotional and classic political strategy. It got him where he wanted to be — at the top of the heap. But let me quote one who has also arrived at a similar conclusion, but just a little too late. Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, a member of DU30’s constitutional committee, is quoted by John Nery in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Let’s stop fooling ourselves,’ Aquino wrote. That necessary task begins with understanding that, for President Duterte, ‘federalism’ is only a political project: a reason to travel the country to project himself as a presidential candidate in 2015, an excuse to stay in power in 2018. No amount of prodigious writing or furious debating will change that.” (PDI, August 14, 2018). Ouch! Harsh words from an ally but look at what really happened and its implications on the unfolding Philippine political drama.

What really happened
To start fulfilling one of his flagship programs, as early as December 7, 2016, DU30 signed EO 10 creating the Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution (ConCom). But members were only appointed in February of 2018, an inordinate delay of 14 months. Meantime, the DILG tasked to conduct nationwide IEC managed only sporadic sorties as it was plagued by squabbles and purges at its top leadership and inconsistency in messaging. Civil society and federalism advocates urgently filled in the gaps, but the models presented to the public were incoherent, exacerbated by the President himself whose interpretation of freeing the regions, provinces and LGUs from the control of central government was slightly erroneous. For instance, he was passionately advocating for the adoption of the French model, when France is not even a federal system.

He was not perceived to be interested in serious political and electoral reforms save that of shifting from the unitary government to a federal set-up. He therefore never delved into more important reforms of our political party system which is the main derivative of patronage politics and political dynasties that proliferated in the country for generations. This is evinced by his nonchalant attitude toward the splintering of the PDP Laban and countenancing the rise of his original local party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) with his daughter as heir apparent.

Political dynasties ascendant
Without these essential reforms, shifting to a federal system would allow political dynasties to gain much tighter control of a much smaller population and area in alliance with the oligarchy — a scenario the President may have anticipated with his own children in active politics.

So, we see today the ascendance of progeny following a similar path. Mayor Sara has of late been leveraging her bloodline to build up her own constituency and power base on the carcass of her father’s erstwhile dominant political party; or at least with his acquiescence on the PDP Laban’s emasculation.

The Deegong, without lifting a finger, has allowed the castration of his top subalterns in the two houses of Congress; the reemergence of his ally Gloria Arroyo, an astute traditional politician, as head of the Lower House; and the rehabilitation of the Marcoses through a coalition with the charismatic Imee and the rebirth of the Kilusang Bagong Lupunan (KBL); and perhaps the forced appropriation of the vice presidency by the son and namesake of the dictator.

Such is the convoluted and fluid alliances now facing the country midterm. Also, the Senate, the other half of the institution singularly tasked to revise the 1987 Constitution, is not attuned to the President’s wishes, if he was ever serious in the first place, and may let the deadline pass. The window of opportunity for political climate change is closing fast. The mid-term election mode is upon us and is producing frenzied political jockeying, and this trumps constitutional revisions. And even the allies of the Deegong have pronounced federalism dead!

But the greater tragedy is that without Charter revisions, we will be condemned to the generations-old status quo of a unitary-presidential system. There will be no shift to the superior parliamentary system and no liberalization of the economy. Which means, the traditional political dynasties with their alliance with the oligarchy intact will continue to rule the roost.

One alternative in this almost hopeless scenario is for the DDS and fist-pumpers to just put their faith in the President. Go the traditional political route and pick the electoral alliance that can best push for a Charter revision agenda post mid-term. This “kapit sa patalim” scenario is in the hope that the people who are subsequently elected to power will adhere to the Charter revisions that the advocates want in the remaining half of the Deegong’s term. But going into the “lame-duck mode,” the elected ones may extract more concessions from the President as a quid pro quo for pushing his agenda, although he may have already anticipated this with the humongous insertions of “pork barrel” in the current budget.

Trad-pol track
This trad-pol track is double-edged at best as there is no guarantee that the next political players will not be co-opted by the system, perforce perpetuating the same political structures. In which case, the federalism adherents may have to drastically shed their expectations and go the long and slow but painful route.

This was the formula arrived at by the Centrist Democratic Movement (CDM) on its ambitious plans of creating a political party (CDP). The same recipe that PDP followed when it started in Mindanao in the 1980s prior to its coalition with Ninoy Aquino’s Laban in Manila. Perhaps, we need to go back to the basics and go long term; build a more responsible political community; restart a political movement and a political party of young still unadulterated minds based on ideological precepts; and hang on to it for dear life.

The alternative to this is simply unacceptable. The revolutionary government being proffered by the young hotheads is no guarantee that we can go where we want to go, not with the President now suspected to be half-cocked on the idea of constitutional revisions and the viability of revgov itself.

And the last alternative is for the federal parliamentary advocates to give up and leave things to fester so our people will suffer more and hopefully see the error of their ways. But by that time, we the advocates, are probably all dead and the country has become a province of China.
Published in LML Polettiques
LATELY, an ugly public clash among some cabinet members and the DDS/fist pumpers erupted, poisoning further an already polluted discourse on federalism. And true to form, the Yellow army with their Senate allies took advantage of the breach threatening to derail whatever is advocated by their bete noire.

It started with an initiative from a comely, unlettered but a social media heavyweight reducing the federalism concept into a song and dance number with heavy sexual undertones. Her supporters praised her utterly asinine effort as one that put federalism on center stage, irrespective of whether the concept was understood or not. This reduced a complex advocacy into a vulgar spectacle. Many among the true believers cringe at half-cocked attempts by favored Malacañang sycophants tasked to disseminate the concepts to elevate the political dialogue to a respectable higher level.

Then came a series of pronouncements by the President’s alter egos publicly contradicting his stand, or so it seemed. The defense secretary “…expressed belief that the country is not yet ready to shift to a federal form of government…(since) a lot of Filipinos don’t understand or are not yet ready for a change in the type of government that we have and still needs to be educated about it.”

In this case therefore, let the advocates redouble their efforts for a massive information and education campaign, making them ready for federalism, the military personnel included. You don’t discard a DU30 flagship issue because of the inability of the bureaucracy to do its part, inform and educate.

But the good Secretary’s non sequitur of an argument has already been belied by similar past instances that the Filipino may not have also understood quite well the unitary government written in the 1935 Commonwealth, 1973 Marcos and 1987 Cory constitutions.

“What we need to understand about the Filipino is for the past 300 years of colonialism, they trust their patrons and put their faith in their leaders to do the right thing by them. They will take federalism and the charter change on faith. And you can’t sell them short. They are a magnificently discerning race.” (“Federalism-Cha-cha! going nowhere?” TMT, July 25, 2018)

Then on August 9, 2018 the Philippine Daily Inquirer came out with the headline “Economic managers cite risks of federalism,” citing Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd’s statement to the Senate finance committee that the Philippines’ investment grade credit ratings, which make it cheaper for the country to borrow money, would “go to hell” if the proposed shift to federalism proceeds.

To add fuel to the fire, Dominguez was quoted as saying: “…the national government may have to lay off 95 percent of its employees, or reduce the funds for the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program by 70 percent, or a combination of both.”

What could have been a harmless but indiscreet gesture of public plea by the economic managers to the ConCom group for clarification was instead twisted and converted by the Yellow press into a form of lese majeste, gaining political points and embarrassing the Deegong.

Dominguez had to lamely appeal to the federalism advocates by calling “…for a dialogue on the federalism issue…making it clear that while the economic team is not against federalism, it has the responsibility to point out the ambiguous and unclear provisions in the proposed draft charter…”

Yes, but the harm had been done. In his salvo, ConCom member Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said that Dominguez had practically snubbed the ConCom hearings, sending instead incompetent underlings, reflecting perhaps the reluctance of the DoF to be on board DU30’s federalism initiative.

All this hullabaloo could have been avoided if our Centrist (CDP/CDPI) draft, the 2005 ConCom with erstwhile President GMA’s imprimatur, had been seriously considered by the CJ Puno-led 2018 ConCom; and if they were not fixated by their comfortably familiar presidential-federal position as a cure-all, fulfilling their desire for instant gratification; and if the ConCom were more evenly staffed with professionals, economists and businessmen, rather than being heavily bloated with lawyers and academics.

The Centrist position was to shift first to parliamentary government before attempting to shift to a federal structure, allowing time for the provinces and regions to form themselves into cohesive federal states. And the main instrument that will guide them through this process is the parliament through the “federalizing commission,” similar to the current ConCom’s proposed “federal intergovernmental commission.”

This commission is where the myriad economic and financial questions are to be dissected, clarified and acted upon, not this prematurely plaguing the debate with toxic postulates and premises. The Centrist draft focused on the step-by-step process of shifting from a unitary to parliamentary government to autonomous territories, and eventually to federal states.

Our view is that the future constitutionally mandated federalization commission must be authorized wide leeway to look into both the political and economic structural viability; the sourcing of funds and the taxation powers; the sharing of income and expenditures and a host of concerns that midwives the birthing of a Federal Republic. The particulars are to be threshed out by parliament when the organic laws for the federal states are originated. These details are not meant to be all written in the constitution, only the guiding principles. This is what a constitution is meant to be. And this is yet to be written by the constitutional assembly (ConAss) in Congress. What the President’s allies are now quarreling over is a draft proffered by the 2018 ConCom, however incompetently written.

Even a feature of the ConCom draft delineating the political boundaries of the federal states or regions are simply for illustration and will be finalized by parliament and the local people themselves negotiating and agreeing among each other. Even the seat of the federal state will be a bone of contention if written in the constitution or imposed by parliament.

On the other hand, leaving it to the provincial local executives to propose the future federal states will open the issue to the self-serving local leaders and political dynasties, like the proposal of the League of Provinces, pushing for 81 federal states. How stupid is that?

Playing with figures today and quarrelling over them before the parameters are decided in a totally new federal-parliamentary paradigm is akin to looking cross-eyed through the lens of a unitary government set-up.

My unsolicited advice is to heed the cool admonition of the lone economist member of ConCom, Art Aguilar, that their ConCom draft is there for all to tear up and mangle, as this is what a draft is for. And to paraphrase him, I would suggest that to discard it and a review the Centrist 2009 ConCom draft (with some amendments) sanctioned by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now Speaker of the House.
Published in LML Polettiques

Part 4 of a series
THE following is lifted almost verbatim from an earlier column that I wrote, “How do we change from unitary to federal” (The Manila Times, August 25, 2017). This was also presented to the Malacañang press corps in September 2017, and the Centrist proposal draft constitution has been presented individually to the members of the two houses of Congress. (This can be downloaded from our website www.cdpi.asia)

In the Centrist proposal, the process of converting the Philippines to a federal republic comes immediately after the Philippine parliament is put in place (refer to “Part 3: Presidential to parliamentary – the preconditions (The Manila Times, August 8, 2018).

“Federalism is a multi-step process that must be clearly written in the constitution. We can’t just legislate federalism or just write in the constitution that we are a de facto federal republic tomorrow. What we can write in the new constitution when we revise the 1987 Cory Constitution is “the framework,” the step-by step process, the roadmap, as it were, to attaining the Philippine Federal Republic, beyond the term of President Duterte and even in the next decade or so. So, even with DU30, the main sponsor gone from the political scene, we will have planted today the seeds of our Federal Republic.”

The Centrist proposal’s “out of the box” version of a federal state has its roots on the concept of autonomy, subsidiarity and self-determination.

In our version, we allow the provinces and highly urbanized component cities to evolve first to an autonomous territory with the decision to group themselves coming from the grassroots below. Self-determination is central to this decision. Although the Philippines may eventually end up with from 5-12 federal states, parliament can’t impose on the current provinces and cities. They are merely given the general guidelines for such formation based on criteria to be embedded in the revised constitution, such as common culture, language, custom, contiguous areas and economic viability. Therefore, it is necessary that these contiguous provinces/cities need to negotiate with each other.

In other words, the citizens within a contiguous territory, with common language and culture must decide in a referendum that they become completely autonomous. Petitions are passed by their local legislative assemblies (sanggunian).

Once a referendum is passed, within a year, parliament must enact an organic law defining the autonomous territory’s land area, powers, obligations and sources of revenues (taxes). The autonomous territory then writes its own constitution to be approved in a plebiscite by its own people. If 3/5 (60 percent) of the provinces and component cities of the Philippines become autonomous territories, then the Federal Republic of the Philippines is created.

1st stage: Creation of autonomous territories
The first stage has already begun and will end in a plebiscite in May 2019 to coincide with the midterm elections. Therefore, we elect all officials still under the old 1987 Constitution. Or it can be written in the transitory provisions of the revised constitution that these officials, elected under the 1987 constitution, will hold office only until the first parliamentary elections on May 2020 under the new federal Constitution or the members of the two houses of Congress become automatic members of a unicameral parliament by May 2020. The 12 months between May 2019 to May 2020 should be used in preparation towards the transition to a parliamentary-federal system.

2nd stage: May 2020-2025
Upon the establishment of the unicameral parliament, it may create a federalization commission to oversee the negotiations and allow the evolution of the provinces and highly urbanized cities from what they are today into autonomous territories (using as template the BOL-BAR). The local government units (LGUs) shall negotiate with one another the establishment of their federal state based on their geographical location, population, history, language and cultural similarities, considerations of their natural resources and wealth, and the selection of the seat of the state capital.

The result of these negotiations shall be incorporated in detail and enacted in an organic law by parliament within a year of a petition to be subsequently approved by the constituents of the newly formed autonomous territory in a referendum.

Some of the provinces and cities will be ahead of the pack and some will be laggards, therefore the development of a federal republic will not be uniform. All these need time and with guidance from parliament.

The incumbent President DU30, now in a parliamentary form of government, shall continue his dual presidential role as head of state and head of government (2020-2022) leading and presiding over the new unicameral parliament.

3rd stage: May of 2022
By May 2022, President DU30 steps down as head of state, as is clearly his intention, and a new president is elected by the parliament to serve the remaining term of President DU30; or ends his term by 2025. (This can be provided for in the transitory provisions of the new constitution, but a controversial one that contravenes his wishes.)

4th stage: May of 2025-2030
The second regular parliamentary election under the new constitution is held by 2025 with a five-year term to 2030. We then have a new prime minister and a new president.

It is our contention that if 3/5 (60 percent) of the provinces and highly urbanized cities become autonomous territories with organic acts, then the Federal Republic of the Philippines is created. By our reckoning this will happen in 2028.

Looking into the theoretical aspect of federalism and the models of successful federal governments in the world, the principles of self-determination, solidarity, autonomy, subsidiarity, and cooperation between the national and the federal states and among the states themselves are essential in sustaining a Federal Republic.

As I have often expounded: “This roadmap to federalism is thus designed to mitigate the shock to the body politic arising from the purging of traditional political practices through the immediate passage of reform legislation now pending in Congress. Furthermore, the critical process of transition to a parliamentary-federal republic has to be in place in the revised constitution so the assurance of its continuity is safeguarded by the constitution itself even beyond the term of the current president. To reiterate, the Centrist roadmap simply adapts to the exigencies of real change or “tunay na pagbabago,” the rallying slogan of the Deegong, accelerating change where feasible without unnecessarily upsetting institutions and government services.”

Published in LML Polettiques
Part 3 of a series
MY earlier columns presented a rationale for dismantling the century’s old dysfunctional American democratic political structures imposed on us by our colonizers. (Manila Times, August 1, 2018 “Parliamentary system and the reign of Gloria”; August 11,18 & 25, 2016, “How do we change from unitary to federal”).

We submit that the unitary-presidential system be replaced with a federal-parliamentary by revising the 1987 Constitution. The arguments we proffered simply are that the unitary-presidential system has evolved cultural behavioral practices inimical to the greater majority. It has not substantially eradicated poverty in the country, particularly in the periphery. Over the decades, stark impoverishment became the petri dish on which democratic deficits plaguing our country today are incubating; from the emergence of traditional political patronage practices, allowing the proliferation of political dynasties that preserve political power among and within families; to the culture of impunity, corruption and criminality; to the rise of an oligarchy that tends to control both political and economic power. And in a vicious cycle, these sordid conditions in turn induced a poverty trap that many of our people seldom escaped from. To break this, a new paradigm needs to be introduced; alter the form and system of government and the deeply embedded cultural deficits will begin to transform.

A federal system where the local governments in the regions are freed from the clutches of central authority and control and allowed to flourish on their own terms is a preferred alternative. And to complement the federal structure, we propose a parliamentary government, replacing our aberrant presidential government.

The assumption to power of the Deegong championing federalism has popularized the slogan without so much as understanding the concept. His original pronouncements on his first SONA in 2016 was his take on parliamentary-federal government modeled after France with a “strong” president, enamored perhaps by an iconic leader like Charles De Gaulle. But France is not even federal. It is a unitary state. Thus, his 2018 Con-Com proposed a hybrid presidential/parliamentary system.

However, the belief of his unknowing supporters that federalism is a “package-deal” and can be applied all at once in one fell swoop of the revisionist pen, is mistaken. We need to de-couple these two components to understand and internalize which is more critical that must come first.

The Citizen’s Movement for Federal Philippines (CMFP), the pedigree of CDP/CDPI (the Centrist groups) since the early 1990s have always maintained that a shift to parliamentary government be done first — before a full shift to a federal system. The logic here is simple. After 100 years of political malpractices and defects in governance, the political parties became the repositories of these perversions and thus are the primary perpetrators of this decadence on the body politic.

A case for immediate shift to parliamentary government is much easier once the various appropriate pending bills on political party reforms are enacted into law. These laws will effectively penalize and eliminate turncoatism (or the switching of political parties, “balimbing,” “political butterfly”); enforce transparent mechanisms providing and regulating campaign financing to eliminate graft, corruption, and patronag (corporate and individual contributions); and allow state subsidy to professionalize political parties by supporting their political education and campaign initiatives.

The Centrists therefore presented four preconditions while the process of constitutional revisions is ongoing; and to ease the shift from unitary-presidential to federal-parliamentary

1) The passage of the Political Party Development and Financing Act (SB 3214 and HB 6551);

2) Passage of the Freedom of Information bill (FOI) to enforce transparency in all transactions in government;

3) Initiate electoral reforms that put in place a system that will prevent the travesty of the will of the populace (i.e. rampant vote buying); and

4) Enact a law banning political dynasties as mandated in Article II Section 26 of the Constitution. This last item may have to be enacted as a self-executory provision in the revised constitution, considering the shameless disregard for its passage by Congress for decades.

As I have written in past columns, if these preconditions are not put in place and we proceed with a transition to a federal government, then we may have a government much worse than we have now.

Political party reform, the most important among the four preconditions, is imperative for the three draft constitutions being debated today: Centrist federal-parliamentary, PDP Laban hybrid-parliamentary and Con-com presidential-federal. Ample time is needed for the political parties to reorganize and reorient their ideological perspectives based on the new paradigm which is really the core operating program of a well-functioning government.

To reiterate, the Centrist preference for a parliamentary government is really based on the model’s proclivity to prevent gridlock in a unicameral body. The government of the day is checked by the opposition with a unique “question hour” that requires cabinet members who are likewise members of parliament to defend on the floor any policy questions. This ensures accountability and transparency on the part of the majority on all government transactions. On the part of the minority, a “shadow cabinet” parallels the work of the majority mirroring the positions of each member of the cabinet allowing considerations of alternatives. More importantly, all these promote cohesive and disciplined political parties, allowing a broader base and inclusive politics through a multi-party system.

The parliament is a critical component in the installation of federal states or regions as in our Centrist proposals it will oversee the step by step formation of the federal republic through initially, the creation of autonomous territories. The birthing of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) model through the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) bears witness to the intricacies and difficulties of the process and the many decades over which it was hammered into reality. The BAR could be the template upon which the national parliament will establish the future federal states of the country. But by then, the early kinks, failures and lessons of institutionalizing an autonomous region will have been learned and internalized.

In the Centrist roadmap (next week’s article in this series), this process will commence from the first proposed parliamentary elections in 2020, provided the constituent assembly AAcomposed of the two houses of Congress will take time out from their shameful bickering and will have their work finished in time for the 2019 plebiscite.

(Next week: The process of federalization, the roadmap/framework)
Published in LML Polettiques
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 13:40

Parliamentary system and the reign of Gloria

Part 2 on constitutional revisions
LAST week, President Duterte’s SONA, as in the past, would have been the centerpiece of the opening of Congress and his chance to claim bragging rights on the current state of the nation’s health. No details were spared starting with the “mini SONAs” conducted by the President’s henchmen in the various venues the previous weeks, to the hiring of an events director to oversee the President’s tour de force. It was, however, eclipsed by a naked power play by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) loyalists catapulting her to the speakership. But this was not totally unexpected although its timing was deplorable as it stole the thunder from the Deegong.

Gloria’s ascendancy was at the expense of Pantaleon ‘Bebot’ Alvarez. In my column “Games of thrones” (The Manila Times, March 15, 2018), I wrote: “…Alvarez’s… maneuvers were less than elegant: a petty and uncalled-for quarrel with an agricultural oligarch as an upshot of a catfight between their girlfriends; a puerile squabble with the daughter-mayor of his principal; and the snubbing of the ‘original PDP Laban purists.”

“According to the PDP Laban originals and purists, he is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the political party system in the country. In fact, rumors are rife that the factions arrayed against the Speaker are now gearing up to make him a one-time representative of the 2nd district of Davao del Norte, effectively toppling him from his perch.”

The portents to me were clear then and in “Part 2, Games of Thrones” (Times, March 22, 2018), I wrote: “And here awaits one astute politician who may have calculated these permutations and may now be positioned for any eventuality. In the midst of all these, it is obvious that the Deegong needs a surrogate that stands out from among the dregs of the carcasses of the other parties now populating his supermajority; one with a similar charisma, possessing qualities acquired uniquely by those who have attained the pinnacle of power and grasped the parameters of its flaws and possibilities.

We have such a one. Today Gloria stands at the cusp of a chaotic political tableau, poised on the side stage, awaiting the call. She is no doubt a quintessential traditional politician, steeped in the arcana of Philippine politics, knowledgeable of the flaws and strengths of the system.”

Thus, it came to pass!

But this article is not about the downfall of Bebot or the ascendancy of Gloria. This is about the underlying political structures that allow such distortions to the democratic process. Our centuries-old presidential-unitary system of government is susceptible to this kind of eruption as the system feeds on political power anchored on personalities rather than ideologically defined party politics. Both protagonists are members of PDP-Laban and both are traditional politicians although Bebot and his cohorts had recruited Gloria from her Lakas Party to bolster his own faction of PDP Laban, perhaps against the then Senate President Koko Pimentel and his PDP Laban purists. If we were in a parliamentary government, this sordid event would not have been executed in such an inelegant fashion.

But what is a parliamentary government in contrast to a presidential one. Read last week’s column (“Federalism Cha-cha going nowhere?” July 25, 2018) as a background for the following excerpts taken from the CENTRIST Proposals; the version of the CDP, CDPI, Lakas, 2005 ConCom draft replacing the Cory 1987 Constitution.

In a parliamentary government, the legislative and the executive powers are fused and vested in a unicameral parliament; and the head of government is the prime minister, with his cabinet recruited from among the members of parliament. The republican concept imposed on us by America on the fictional independence of the three branches of the executive, legislative and judiciary is drastically modified in the parliamentary system.

The president is the head of state, elected from among the members of parliament; and upon taking his oath he ceases to be a member of parliament and any political party. He serves a term of five years. The head of state is meant to be the unifying symbol of the Filipino nation and his powers are largely ceremonial.

A unicameral parliament is composed of elected members from the parliamentary districts, plus those chosen on the basis of “proportional representation” by the political party according to the votes each party obtained in the preceding elections. In the Centrist version, the two houses of Congress, the Senate and House of Representatives are replaced by a parliament.

The members chosen by the political parties (party list) shall constitute 30 percent of the total number of members of parliament and the seats reserved solely for the “less privileged”— farmers, fisherfolks, workers, etc. Party lists, as we have today under our anomalous 1987 Constitution, are not meant to run separately and outside of a nationally accredited party.

A parliamentary government is also called a “party government” because of the pivotal role of political parties in parliamentary elections, governance and public administrations, which means Congress should now pass the “Political Party Development Act” archived by the PNoy administration.

As proposed by the Centrists, any elective official who leaves his political party before the end of the term shall forfeit his seat and will be replaced by his political party.

A mechanism to replace a prime minister is for parliament to withdraw its confidence and choose a successor by a majority vote of all its members. This “vote of no confidence” is a much easier process of replacing a head of government in a parliamentary system than the current impeachment process.

The Centrists have always maintained that we shift to parliamentary government first before transitioning into a federal system, given that the federalization process is more complicated. This is contained in the Centrist Roadmap Toward a Federal Philippines which has undergone deep study and research and was codified by the 2005 Consultative Commission (ConCom) under the tutelage of President Arroyo, now the Speaker of the House.
Published in LML Polettiques