Da Coconut Repablik

A Chronicle of the Da Pinoys and Da Coconut Repablik of Da Pilipins

Pnoy and Louis XVI: They Speak Reforms But Oppose More “Important” Reforms

You know guys, The Aquino administration’s competent thing that they have ever done is their defiance to the dogmatic Catholic clergy. The rest are half-hearted attempts to reform the government and weed out the “corrupt” persons through trial by publicity. Congratulations Pnoy, you have humiliated yourself once again. Pnoy is a staunch critic of the Constitutional Reform or more popularly known as “Charter Change”.  This issue is a very controversial one since the late 1990’s. A series of attempts launched by the Ramos, Estrada and the Arroyo administration all ended in failure due to the efforts of the nationalists of the both sides of the spectrum, the Catholic clergy and the supporters of the Cory ‘magic’ lead by none other than Corazon Aquino herself.

This 2013, the 16th Congress is planning to push for its implementation especially the Federal and the Parliamentary clauses. The Makati Business Club shall pressure the administration to consider the dismantling of the protectionist provisions in order to invite more foreign investors to invest in the country. We all know that the President loves to speak economic reforms and ready for investment bullshit in the World Economic Forum but he is ignorant in the current reality of the world today.

The end of the Cold War coincided with the end of the Industrial Age. During the late 80’s and 90’s, computers became an important part of emerging industries across the world, coupled with the widespread use of the Internet for the first time, several trade barriers were dismantled to attract multinational companies who relied on computerised process of transaction. Even the large industries were forced to adopt computerised modes of production, thus slashing some redundant jobs and at the same time slashing the costs of production.

The Philippines was once a regional power during the Industrial Age but because of the elimination of the trade barriers implemented by its neighbours, several of the once lucrative industries in the country died a natural death. Now some folks of the National Economic Protectionism Association are crying over spilled milk and they began to suggest self sufficiency, something that will become disastrous considering our position in the heart of Asia which is viable for commerce.

Here is this Inquirer article that details his opposition to Charter Change:

President Aquino has a ready answer for those tirelessly reviving Charter change (Cha-cha) at every opportunity: No.

Aquino thumbed down Cha-cha anew, noting that the recurrent attempt to change the Constitution had since become a periodic undertaking by congressional leaders under the present dispensation.

“(M)y stand has been public for the longest time,” Aquino said in an ambush interview with reporters following his speech at the anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Fort San Felipe, Cavite province.

“I don’t think they (economic restrictions) are a necessary detriment to getting foreign investors in this country,” the President replied when asked about the renewed pitch of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., his close ally and Liberal Party stalwart, to amend the Constitution to attract foreign capital.

Cha-cha has the support of a number of senators, while various foreign chambers of commerce are seeking the lifting of restrictions on equity investments.

Seven out of the 12 newly elected senators have expressed their support for Cha-cha for different reasons and in varying degrees.

Those who indicated support for Charter change in their responses to a question from Inquirer’s Talk of the Town section were Senators-elect Juan Edgardo Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito and Gregorio Honasan.

Villar said she was “OK with Cha-cha” but added “it should not be a priority.”

Several incumbent senators like Ralph Recto, Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are also in favor of Cha-cha.

But Sen. Franklin Drilon, campaign manager of the victorious Team PNoy senatorial ticket, is opposed to Cha-cha.

“At this time, a debate on Charter change will divert our attention from more pressing concerns to provide jobs to our people, improve our economy and expand social services,” said Drilon, who is expected to head the Senate.

Order to attract capital

Instead of Cha-cha, the President has other things in mind to attract more investments.

To ensure the ease of doing business in the country, Aquino signed an administrative order for the creation of an interagency task force that will implement reforms in the business sector.

In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said on Monday that Aquino had signed Administrative Order No. 38 ordering the creation of Task Force on Ease of Doing Business (EODB Task Force) “in a bid to boost the country’s competitiveness ranking in the world and improve the business climate in the country.”

“The EODB Task Force is seen to significantly help improve our ranking in the survey since it is tasked to ensure the full implementation of the Gameplan for Competitiveness designed by the National Competitiveness Council  and endorsed by the Economic Development Cluster,” Ochoa said.

The Philippines ranks 138th out of 185 countries and is 8th in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Doing Business Survey of the World Bank’s International Finance Corp.

Foreign chambers

The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines is in favor of  modifying the “negative” list of investment areas that are off limits to foreigners under the Foreign Investments Act.

The group has called for the creation of an interagency committee to review “various restrictions on foreign equity investment … taking into account consideration whether restrictions impeded investments, job creation and competitiveness.”

It said a report with specific proposed amendments could be ready by the time the 16th Congress is convened.

Restrictions not detrimental

The President reiterated that restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution ratified under his mother’s presidency were  “not detriment[al] to getting foreign investors in this country.”

He was particularly referring to the provision in the Constitution that restricts to 40 percent foreign ownership of public utilities.

The President cited the case of China, whose economy has accelerated and is predicted to overtake the United States in a few years, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ownership of land

Referring to “ownership of land as one of the economic  provisions” being targeted by Cha-cha proponents, he said:

“(In) China you lease (land since) you cannot own land. But China’s economy grew by something like close to 10 percent for a decade. So, that, I think, is empirical evidence that suggests, perhaps, that that is not a main determinant.”

The 1987 Constitution bans aliens from owning land in the Philippines.

‘Very low priority’

The President cited a survey among foreign chambers of commerce in the country to demonstrate that the Constitution was not the root of the ills plaguing the Philippines.

“Our earlier studies on that (showed that) various chambers of commerce in the country have indicated a lot of issues, and the so-called economic provisions (were) very low on the priority (scale),” the President said.

What the business community was worrying about were things other than Cha-cha, Aquino said.

“They cited, at the time, the (inefficient) bureaucracy, the peace and order situation, among others, lack of infrastructure,” he said.

Resurrected

Moves to tinker with the Constitution were again resurrected by Speaker Belmonte on Monday, who repeated his argument for the nth time that the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions were driving away potential foreign investors and thus hampering economic growth.

Belmonte and other congressional leaders have been making a pitch for Cha-cha every chance they got, particularly ahead of the opening of every session of Congress.

Two weeks before the President was to face Congress to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address in July 2012, Belmonte teamed up with Enrile in rallying support for Cha-cha.

Enrile saw Cha-cha as a chance to facilitate increased military spending of the government amid Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Malacañang quickly responded by declaring that Cha-cha was not a priority of the Aquino administration.

Unperturbed, the duo even sought an audience with the President in Malacañang.

Closed-door meeting

At the closed-door meeting on July 30 last year, Belmonte and Enrile were politely rebuffed by the President.

“I stated my opposition, but we agreed to have the underlying basis studied by the economic and legal clusters [of the Cabinet and] with private sector participation, upon the suggestion of both the Senate President and the Speaker,” Aquino said.

Until now, it was unclear whether the study pushed through.

Unprecedented growth

“In the past three years, we achieved unprecedented growth through good governance,” Drilon said, indicating the needlessness of tackling Charter change in the 16th Congress.

“No need for Cha-cha yet. We are achieving economic gains without it,” said another senator in the next Congress, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, a member of the administration Liberal Party like Drilon.

Only economic provisions

In his speech when the Senate opened its third regular session in the 15th Congress in July last year, Enrile said: “We seek to amend only certain economic provisions therein such that there will be more flexibility in the ownership of certain industries particularly those that are involved in exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources.”

Enrile is one of the three leaders of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance and the leader of the Senate’s “macho” bloc to which Estrada and Sotto belong.

“Only (for) the economic provisions,” Estrada said in a text message when asked if he was in favor of Cha-cha.

Sotto was pushing for a line amendment that would encompass “especially the economic provisions.”

Citing the suggestion of a Supreme Court justice that he didn’t name, Sotto proposed that Congress be given the power to amend any economic provision in the Constitution. “Insert the clause ‘as may be provided by Congress,’” he said.

“There’s also a check and balance there because the President can veto the amendment if he doesn’t think it is right,” Sotto added.

Mixed reactions

The proposed Cha-cha drew mixed reactions from Catholic Church leaders in the Visayas.

Msgr. Esteban Binghay, Cebu Archdiocese Episcopal Vicar, believes that there is a need to change the Constitution now to “adjust to the present needs” and address the problems on election and political dynasties.

“The election every three years is very expensive which is why it would be better if the local and national elections would be held in one election, every six years. Cha-cha could also change the ambiguous definition of political dynasties in the Constitution,” he told the Inquirer.

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte province, said he would support Cha-cha if it would focus on  amending economic provisions, not the lifting of term limits.

But Msgr. Achilles Dakay,  media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said the country needed to “implement the good provisions of the Constitution first” before changing it.

Bishop Emmanuel Trance of the Diocese of Catarman, said he did not favor Cha-cha.

Msgr. Meliton Oso, social action director of the Archdiocese of Jaro in Iloilo, said extensive public discussions on the need for constitutional changes should be held before Congress initiates any amendments.

President Aquino is totally ignorant of the present realities and he made a wrong impression about the economic policies of China. The Chinese did not prohibited foreign business ownership but they prevent foreign land ownership. These are totally different issues. The former means that a foreigner has the ownership of his own business while the latter means that he owns also the land. Another point made by the President is that the Constitution is not the cause of the main problems of the country.

The mind of the President is somewhat similar to Louis XVI or “Louis the Last”. Both of them speak reforms but in reality made half hearted efforts on implementing them. Both leaders are indecisive and both of them are tied to their own interests. Aquino is tied to his political family while Louis XVI was tied to the old aristocracy which refused legitimate reforms to be implemented to reflect the current realities at his time.

The time of Louis XVI was a very uncertain point of history. The Age of Enlightenment which was once confined with the upper classes and the middle class had begun to spread in the lower classes of the society, the American Revolution was at its height and the ‘dangerous’ ideals of liberty, free trade, secularisation, distribution of wealth and equality became widely talked among the cafes and bistros of Europe. The most dangerous of these ideologies was it can be all achieved through a revolution. In fact, several radicals had already advocated that a revolution will bring a new dawn for humanity.

The widespread famine, population explosion, the enormous debt tracing back to the wars of Louis XIV and XV made worse by the intervention of France in the side of the American colonists during their war of independence, tax burden, political and social unrest and most of all, the excesses of the court in Versailles especially his wife Marie Antoinette had built up the flames of revolution. With all these problems that had spiralled out of control, Louis XVI remained indecisive.

In order to control the crisis, in  1788 he requested that the Estates General be summoned by the summer of 1789. It was a very radical move because the Estates’ last session was in 1614, Elections began immediately to represent the three classes. The Third Estate, which was largely dominated by the middle class had secured the notion that the Third Estates can double their seats. They became disappointed days before the session because the voting was not by head, rather by estates. At the start of the session, the King delivered a speech which was the main concern of the meeting: financial reforms. Hours later, the deputies had begun to debate the structure of the Estates instead of addressing the problem of the ruined finances of France.

Then the prominent liberal clergyman Abbe Sieyes moved at the Third Estate, which became known as The Commons. In a radical act of defiance against the King, the Third Estate had declared themselves the National Assembly, the representatives of the people. They invited the other estates to join them but not wait for them. The King resisted by closing the Salle des États, which he reasoned it was under reperations.

Deprived of their meeting place, the deputies met in a tennis court, and declared that they will not dissolve until they had created a Constitution. The majority of the clergy soon joined, as well did the 47 members of the nobility. By 27 of June, large numbers of troops began to concentrate around Versailles and Paris. With paranoia and fearful of a massacre, the citizens of Paris formed a National Guard and they targeted Bastille, which had a plentiful amount of gunpowder.

The Governor of the Bastille had tried to mount a hopeless resistance. A company of Grenadiers defended Bastille but they soon faced an endless horde of soldiers. Hours later he surrendered and the crowd shot him for treason and his head was severed on a pike. With the symbol of the authority of the monarchy already destroyed, the French Revolution which was the most influential revolution that had lead to the birth of the modern world had began all because of the indecisiveness of one man and his royal court.

The price of his resistance to reforms was his head. On Janurary 1793, he was guillotined on the Place De La Revolution. The place became notorious not only because of him but Marie Antoinette, Jean Paul Marat, the Girondins, countless civilians and the last Robespierre and his associates were all guillotined at the exact same place.

This sequence of events might happen in the Philippines if the Aquino administration will not heed the demands of the business and the middle class.  Thomas Jefferson said that a Constitution must be replaced every 20 years so defending a 35 year old Constitution was pointless. The dead cannot serve the living. It is the time to reconsider your point President Aquino regarding the modernisation of the country.

As we know it, time is running out. We are currently the Sick Man of Asia and we need to catch up with the progress of the world. There is no room for incompetent politicians to rule the majority. We need to discard the anti intellectual and anti progress attitudes of the country. If reforms will not be started at an earlier time, we shall expect blood to spill over the country due to the discontent of the population. The time has come  for Constitutional Reform.

President Aquino, if you don’t want the fate similar to Louis XVI happen to you, please listen to the advice of the educated people around you. Even half of your Cabinet supports Constitutional Reform. But I am expecting little from you because you are the defender of your family’s interests and its hold as one of the influential political families in the country. Until then, I see you guys on my next article. This song fits perfectly his personality:

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3 comments on “Pnoy and Louis XVI: They Speak Reforms But Oppose More “Important” Reforms

  1. xdarkx
    May 22, 2013

    Hearing that from AbNoy and Drilon makes me want to throw the former from the Grand Canyon headfirst and turn the latter into lechon. But on second thought, I think that mutant pig Drilon would taste bad because of all the “dirt” he has acquired and I might get infected by it when I eat his dirty meat. XD

    And I guess I may forgive Sotto already for supporting Cha-Cha……

  2. linthein
    July 3, 2013

    llike

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