How Could A Strong Executive Power Be Checked And Balanced By An Agreeable Turncoat-filled Super Majority?

About a year ago, I was invited to attend a forum on the Philippine Competition Law (RA 10667), organized by the Action for Economic Reforms. Below is a book they gave away to attendees and one of the articles inside is entitled "Checking The Abuse Of Presidential Powers" by Nepomuceno A. Malaluan and Solomon F. Lumba.

It's a very factual yet straightforward take on how dangerously cenrtralized the power of the Philippine president is, given the weak checks of the legislative and judiciary branches. I realized it's very fitting to write about it right now especially since we have an iron hand leading the executive branch and, as usual, a turncoat-filled super majority on congress.

For the benefit of Duterte fanatics who may be reading this, I voted for him. And for the benefit of those who despise of his methodologies, I have explained both my reasons for voting him as well as my reservations and disagreements. This piece, though, is not on Duterte per se, but on presidential power in general, along with that decadent "balimbing" culture of changing political parties based on money and machinery rather than principles and ideologies.

As enumerated in the article, the powers of the president are vast:

Control of all executive departments, power to appoint officials at the highest level of government, authority to conduct the country's foreign affairs, the duty to propose the budget and the sources of financing to disburse funds, the power to contract or guarantee foreign loans.
He/she has military powers as commander-in-chief, and in specific circumstances only he/she has the power to suspend habeas corpus. He/she has power over the police force and the prosecution department yet at the same time may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons after final judgement. He/she is immune from suit while in office. He/she may veto legislation but may in essence legislate through executive orders.

And this is ideally why we have separation of powers. The checks and balance are supposed to prevent any abuse of the powers listed above.

The problems, according to the two authors, that create this 'super majority' culture, actually, is the lack of principle-based political parties and incentives through appointments or budget disbursements from the president. The lack of ideological foundation in politicians and their parties make it easy for members to leave an alliance depending on what favors their political survival.

Every single politician or political party have similar motherhood statements, all alluding to social justice, and all could be changed without notice  wherever the populist wind blows.

Just a while back, the lower house was filled by members of the Liberal Party. It was disgusting how blatantly these people could instantly switch parties to form a super majority. And it's not a "yellow army" issue, it's a systemic issue and will exist regardless of who's president.

This is why, perhaps, I was enticed by his promise of constitutional reform and federalism, especially in its most decentralized form.

Yet now, I'm worried that, in spite of promises of market liberalization and the dismantlement of power from Imperial Manila, the police state tactics, centralized power, etc. could be carried over to the new constitution. For instance policy decisions about things like death penalty, cigarette prohibition, etc., should be an issue/legislation handled by the local states and not be mandated on a national level.

It all remains to be seen.

Follow me at Twitter: @harryinitiative to get updated on my new posts. I think I'll be writing more in the coming weeks.


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