Con Ass? Con Con? Con job!
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo 2004-07-12
TWENTY years or so ago when I was the CEO of an ad agency, I mounted a poster of a visibly distressed Orangutan right behind where I sat. It carried this caption: "Just when I figured all of life's answers, they changed all the questions!"

Well these days we are a nation dismayed because the simian types in our congress - how many times have we heard the complaint that our congress is like the zoo - are about to change the questions just when we finally figured out how to do away with them. The experience of the last two presidential elections of 1992 and 1998 had manifested the electorate's categorical rejection of two Speakers' bid for the highest office. This clearly reflects what low esteem people have for Congress, and even worse, for whoever is at its helm.

It is this political reality and not the promise of reform or change for better times that motivates Speaker Joe de Venecia and his cohorts of Pork Barrel gluttons to change the rules of the game. Actually, it's not just the rules of the game they seek to change - they want to change the whole game itself. They even have the temerity to make it look as though they are doing the nation a favor. Doomed to popular disfavor in a presidential system, they now want to revert to the parliamentary form of government where they can truly have their cake and eat it too. In this proposed system, they will be integrating legislative and executive powers in a single clout that will effectively shatter the built-in checks and balances we have in place under the present system.

In short, Joe de Venecia will end up more powerful than the president we would not allow him to be.

Ateneo Blue Eagles with their much vaunted Arreneow fighting spirit must just marvel at the never-say-die spirit of Speaker Joe de Venecia who continues to resurrect his Con Ass (constitutional reform through constitutional assembly) sales pitch. Jesus Christ had one resurrection and is good for a second coming. But Joe de Venecia keeps it coming - as to how many times he has tried to peddle his Con Ass, I have lost count.

Academicians and theorists love to tangle with the pros and cons between the parliamentary and the present presidential systems. They lose sight of the fact that no matter what the game is, if the players are ruffians and thugs, the game will still be dirty. By allowing your suicidal and speed freak of a driver to use a BMW instead of your Corolla, you will only be providing him a more efficient, high powered vehicle with which to drive you over the cliff.

We are all being sweet talked, cajoled and enticed into accepting the parliamentary system. Among the oft used arguments are:

1. That the parliamentary system does away with expensive national elections.

2. That change and response are faster in the parliamentary system.

We cannot afford to buy these arguments. On the point about expensive national elections, better that the people benefit from the money than for all the funds and resources to fatten the insatiable Pork Barrel gluttons. Filling Mang Pandoy's bare necessities would certainly leave a lot more to go around compared to the total bankruptcy of the treasury after its pillage by the cloven-hoofed apostles of the almighty Pork Barrel. And now they want a two-in-one fiesta by integrating the powers of the two branches, the executive and the legislative!

On the point about change and faster response, change can go for the worse or for the better. The problem lies not in the system but in the people who will run it. Changing the form of government would be meaningless unless its leaders or more aptly, its stewards, embody the true intent and ideals of the envisioned change. What about response? Response to whose needs, we must ask - theirs or ours? Again, judging from their previous performance, it will likely be a case of quicker and easier access to the perks of the Pork. A parliament will fry us all in our own oil.

Perish the thought that a parliament run by these people will provide the badly-needed economic stimulus and lure investors. On the contrary, investors will most certainly be wary of a government whose laws and rules can so easily be waved away, more so by people known to be so arrogant and so whimsical as to use whatever mechanisms are at hand to forward their personal interests. Have we forgotten how they tried to remove that honest and dedicated Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Hilario Davide?

No matter how they try to downplay or deny it, under a parliament, the prime minister will be beholden to the members of parliament who have the mandate to elect or reject him. The people would have lost their power to directly choose their chief executive. If we are complaining today that government is insensitive to the pulse of the nation, it will be worse under a parliament.

It has nothing to do with rules or form but the culture that breeds these Pork Barrel gluttons. The fact is no environment can be more hospitable to the proliferation of this iniquitous culture than a parliamentary setup.

One year ago, a Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo salivating for six more years in Malacanang, became the biggest hurdle for the peddlers of the parliamentary form. Now that Macapagal-Arroyo has her six more years, by hook and by crook I must add, Joe de Venecia and his cohorts are luring her to go with the proposal knowing the temptation to extend beyond 2010 is simply too irresistible for her.

Altogether lost on all of them is that the people want good governance and not a new form of government that they neither know nor trust.

Altogether lost on all of them is that the people have long lost their faith in their leadership. Do they really think the same people who rejected them for the presidency will now want to make them more powerful?

Before the gods destroy a man, they first make him mad. This is madness.
And they will destroy all of us along with them.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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