Electoral Reforms

By Antonio C. Abaya

During my TV interview with Harry Tambuatco on Destiny Cable last week, we discussed my objections to the Federalism resolution of Senator Nene Pimentel on the grounds that federalists have not shown any empirical evidence that switching from a unitary to a federal system would “spur economic growth” etc.

Harry asked: “Are you against all changes? Are there any changes that you would like to see?” By all means, yes. But these changes should be made through an elected Constitutional Convention AFTER the 2010 elections.

Hurrying them through with a hastily convened constituent assembly BEFORE the 2010 elections merely creates a Trojan Horse, with President Arroyo crouching inside, scheming to become prime minister, in the manner of Vladimir Putin in Russia.

And what changes would I like to see? First and foremost, I would like to see senators elected by region, instead of at large. By this means, all regions are represented in the Senate all the time.

In the present system, in which senators are elected by nationwide vote, Central Luzon, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog and Bicol are over-represented, Visayas and Mindanao are under-represented, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is not represented at all.

When was the last time we had a Muslim in the Senate? As far as I can recall, that was in the ’70s or ’80s, in the person of Mamintal Tamano, father of the opposition spokesman Adel Tamano. No wonder the Bangsamoro want to secede. To have no Muslim presence in the Senate, for one whole generation, is against all political commonsense. Why didn’t the framers of the 1987 Constitution think of this?

“What other changes would you like to see,” asked Harry. I would like to see qualifying exams for all candidates for all elective positions, from municipal councilor to president.

This would disqualify, right from the start, the stupid and the ignorant, no matter how popular they may be with the squealing masa. [...]

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