AS A MATTER OF FACT
By Sara Soliven De Guzman
The Philippine Star
The coming 2013 midterm election is already bringing in early noise from our politicos. Right now we are very conscious of those “balimbings” as we see them jumping from one party to another. This is clearly showing us that they do not go by a strong political party stand or platform. Good thing we still have some senators who want to ascend from old politics by bringing in a new wave of political commitment to the country as they push for the passage of Senate Bill 3214, formally called The Political Party Development Act. This bill seeks to punish political butterflies (turncoats) and at the same time establish a state subsidy fund for accredited political parties. What I don’t understand is why we (the taxpayers) have to foot the bill for their campaign expenses? I think this proposed bill should be revisited and fine-tuned. I am hoping that the senators are doing this to improve the state of what our political parties have become today.
In hindsight, however, there are other pending bills that need to be prioritized on education, health, agriculture, energy, etc. If this bill is passed before the midterm election then obviously our senators have prioritized it for their own glory. Abangan!
History has shown us that during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, a presidential decree (on penalizing party switchers) was issued. The penalty of which was prohibition from running in the next election. However, in an article written by Julio Teehankee entitled Electoral Politics in the Philippines, he said that the revival of electoral politics under Marcos authoritarian regime greatly restricted genuine party competition. Marcos began to institutionalize one-party dominance with the organization of the new society movement, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in 1978 (Tancangco, 1988). This resulted in various opposition groups establishing new parties. But most of these are regional parties who fielded candidates for specific regions and not for the national level. This indicated the consolidation of the dictatorial regime and the splintering of opposition forces (Wurfel,1988). The KBL continued to dominate the succeeding electoral exercises.
When we regained democracy in 1986, President Corazon Aquino convened a constitutional commission to pen a new constitution for the Philippines. But this constitution did not specify the placement of a two-party system. From then on, until today, we see the birth of more political parties in the country.
In a research entitled: Contemporary Political Parties in the Philippines – The Configuration of Post EDSA I Political Parties by Rolando G. Simbulan, it stated that: “Throughout the history of Philippine politics, the economic and political elite have always held on tightly to the reins of power. From the time the municipal governments were formed by the Americans, Philippines politics has operated within the institutional parameters that often limited and shaped interactions to factions of the elite, utilizing both unicameral and bicameral forms of government. Political parties have been the vehicle for this elite rule and monopoly of political power.”
This kind of political system had no real representation and participation of the people especially the marginalized, in decision-making in all levels of government. As a result this sector of society was further eased out.
The research also showed that in the post-EDSA I era, progressive mass movements and organizations emerged to challenged this kind of political system. And so we see the birth of more political parties in the country. Groups like Akbayan and later the Bayan Muna, party-list organizations have taken the path of electoral struggle in pursuing their goal of advancing the interests of the masses.
Clearly, we see that our current political parties have no backbone. Our politicos seem to only think about their own survival in their cruel world, having no political ideology whatsoever. And mind you, such behavior becomes a hindrance in the development of this nation. This is why there is no progress in our country. The different political colors coming in and out of the scene tend to change the political structure all the time losing the continuity of programs already installed through hard work and the taxpayer’s money.
Our leaders today many of whom belong to wealthy families tend to preserve their ‘haciendas’, their ‘balwartes’, their ‘Forts’, their ‘empires’, their kingdom more than the country’s interest.
I guess Manuel L. Quezon’s words, “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins” have already come to past. Not unless a brave knight shows up and brings back our Camelot!
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On Tuesday, the JBC will submit the names of the three nominees for the position. Among the candidates are 8 Supreme Court Justices: Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco, Teresita Leonardo De Castro, Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Roberto Abad, Jose Perez and Lourdes Sereno; 4 Cabinet executives: Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and Government Chief Peace Negotiator Marvic Leonen; other nominees are: Integrated Bar of the Philippines President Roan Libarios, Atty. Katrina Legarda, Atty. Rodolfo Robles, Atty. Pedro Aquino, Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, Vice Mayor Nepomuceno Aparis, former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, former energy secretary Raphael Lotilla, former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar Villanueva, former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan, University of the East College of Law Dean Amado Valdez, Rafael Morales and veteran journalist Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Among these nominees, I think Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio has an edge not only because he is said to be brilliant but more so because he is coming from the inside. But of course, this has its pros and cons. Nevertheless, he knows the system, is familiar with the organizational structure and knows what needs to be done to regain the dignity and integrity of the highest court of the land.
The Supreme Court has the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the meaning of laws. It determines what national policy will be followed when it applies the law to specific disputes. It can tell a President that his actions are allowed or not allowed by the Constitution. It can tell Congress that a law it passed violated the Constitution and is, therefore, no longer a law. The Supreme Court is the final judge in all cases involving laws of Congress, and the highest law of all – the Constitution.
The Supreme Court plays a vital role in our country so there is a need to appoint the “best and the brightest” to the tribunal. The decision now lies in P-Noy’s hands. I pray that he be guided by the Holy Spirit so that he can choose the right person who will redeem the judiciary from a point of no return.