Dindo Donato

 

Dindo Donato

  • "COLLEGIAL RULE" FOR "GOOD GOVERNANCE"

     

    “COLLEGIAL RULE” FOR

    “GOOD GOVERNANCE”

     

     

               Collegial rule promotes “good governance” because it provides for proficiency, integrity and accountability in making and implementing policies and programs of government.

     

               Firstly, collegial rule by its inherent nature harnesses Collegial wisdom. It extrapolates to a higher level the idiom “two heads are better than one.” [PROFICIENCY]

     

               Secondly, collegial rule impedes graft and corruption because its group-based mechanism necessarily requires the disclosure of material information to many individuals. As human experience shows, “corruption thrives in secrecy, and withers in the light.” [INTEGRITY]

     

               Thirdly, collegial rulestrengthens accountability because it separates the “exercise of power” from the “ultimate hold on power.” As political reality shows, the individual with delegated authority to exercise executive power, routinely defers to the Collegial will of the assembly of elected representatives, because this body holds the ultimate authority to hire-and-fire him. [ACCOUNTABILITY]

     

    Collegial rule also promotes consensus building, because it pre-supposes or necessarily requires the support of a majority to gain and retain political power. On the other hand, one-man rule may promote authoritarianism, because power may be gained by mere plurality of votes (i.e. a minority vote vis-à-vis the total votes), and may be retained despite overwhelming opposition, because the usual remedies for removal are either ineffective or impossible.

     

    Collegial rule by majority vote in Collegial decision making, is the standard in a parliamentary system (at the national level) and in a council type system (at the local level). It is the opposite of one-man rule by an individual decision maker, which is the virtual standard in a presidential system (at the national level) and in a mayor type system (at the local level).

     

               Following the American presidential system with separation of powers, the single individual who becomes president and assumes one-man rule, takes full control of the entire executive branch; appoints all the justices and judges of the judicial branch; enjoys immunity or cannot be sued while in office; and cannot be removed from office, except by impeachment (i.e. an ineffective legal remedy) or people’s power (i.e. a practical impossibility). This is the sad and sorry state of politics in the Philippines which undoubtedly needs to be revisited, re-examined and restructured.

     

    On the other hand, in the British parliamentary system that adopts collegial rule, the political branches of the executive and the legislature are merged, but leaves separate and independent the non-political branch of the judiciary. Accordingly, an effective mechanism for checks-and-balances is retained, notwithstanding the merger of executive and legislative branches of government. This is a working system of government, where some (not necessarily all) features may be considered and adopted by the Philippines.

     

               Collegial rule weakens the control or influence of the oligarchs and the family dynasties over the government, by dispersing the ultimate power of control from one individual to an assembly of elected representatives. At the same time, it strengthens the government vis-a-vis the powerful vested interests, by consolidating the law-making and law-execution powers in the assembly of representatives.

     

    Furthermore, collegial rule diminishes the natural advantage of “rich and famous” candidates over competent but underfunded and unknown candidates, through “voting by district” in multiple small constituencies, instead of “voting at large” in one big constituency. Notably, a manipulative mass media is less effective in small constituencies, because here the voter has greater chances of knowing the real qualities of the candidate.[i]Moreover, the selection process involving multiple small constituencies requires a substantially lower number of votes to win the post of chief executive.[ii]

     

    Finally, collegial rule makes the chief executive more readily removable for acts or omissions involving fault or negligence, through a mere vote of “loss of confidence” in the assembly of elected representatives, rather than through an impeachment trial, administrative proceeding or criminal prosecution.

               

    Does collegial rule have any known disadvantage or systemic weakness? Yes, it does. The mechanism to easily hire-and-fire the chief executive may cause instability. Can this be avoided? Yes, it can.

     

    Since the chief executive is ordinarily removable at any time by majority vote of the members of the elective assembly for mere loss of confidence, there can be frequent changes in political leaders over short durations like every few months or years. Changes in political leaders usually involve changes in policy. This results in the unpredictability of government that eventually hampers business and economic activity.

     

    Nonetheless, this systemic weakness may be addressed by modifying the mechanism to hire-and-fire the chief executive. The modified method can make it easy to “hire” the chief executive (such as by simple majority vote), but at the same time, difficult to “fire” him (such as by qualified 2/3 majority vote). Once elected, the chief executive may then hold the position until the expiration or termination of his membership in the elective assembly, or until he is earlier removed from office by higher or qualified majority vote.

     

               Accordingly, by modifying the method to hire-and-fire the chief executive, the people may enjoy the benefits of collegial rule, without the disadvantage of political instability.

     

     

     

    This material was written ex-gratia by Demosthenes B. Donato

    for Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem), Inc.

    All intellectual property rights are granted to the public domain.

    10 May 2021. Makati City, Philippines.

     

     

     Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author

    and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TanDem.

     



    [i]The electoral process for public officials needs to be designed in a manner that is immune from any deliberate manipulation of public opinion by mass media, considering that many television stations, radio stations, broadsheets, tabloids and online news sites, are by common knowledge owned or influenced by the oligarchs and the family dynasties.

     

    [ii]For example, in a state with 10,000,000 voters and only 2 candidates, a candidate needs 5,000,000 + 1 votes to win as president (chief executive), assuming that all voters vote in a “presidential system” with direct voting. On the other hand, in a “parliamentary system” assuming 100 districts with 100,000 voters per district, the party of a candidate for prime minister (chief executive) needs to win only 51 seats in the parliament (national assembly). This would be 2,550,000 + 51 (or 50,000 + 1 per district) or total of 2,550,051 votes only, assuming all voters in all districts vote.

     

    Another example, in a town with 10,000 voters and only 2 candidates, a candidate needs 5,000 + 1 votes to win as mayor, assuming that all voters vote in a “mayor type system”. On the other hand, in a “council type system” assuming 10 districts with 1,000 voters per district, the party of a mayoralty candidate needs to win only 6 seats in the council. This would be 3,000 + 6 (or 500 + 1 per district) or total of 3,006 votes only, assuming all voters in all districts vote.

  • EMPOWERING THE REGIONS, THE WAY FORWARD

     

    EMPOWERING THE REGIONS, THE WAY FORWARD

     


    As far as anyone can remember, Metro Manila had always been far ahead compared to any other region in socio-economic development. To correct this imbalance, many have pursued the regional decentralization of government, based on the social theory of “subsidiarity,” saying that regional government systems are in the best position to handle regional affairs.[i]

     

    As the late Dr. Gonzalo M. Jurado noted,regional government systems promote the dispersal of development by securing the benefits of “location” (or advantage of proximity to the regional center), by attracting the forces of “agglomeration” (or advantage of concentration in the regional center where there are already large concentrations of people and investments), and by facilitating “friendly competition” (or advantage of competition among regional centers to deliver the best services at the most reasonable prices).[ii]If I may add, they alsoinstitutionalize the systematic “integration” of the social and economic service functions of select government agencies, consolidating their operations, administration, control and supervision under a singular authority.[iii]

     

    So how exactly should we pursue regional decentralization? Based on what we already know, there are at least three (3) ways to do this - by regional authority (RA), by autonomous region (AR), and by sub-state (SS). RA is like SBMA, but for a much bigger area like Central Luzon, and without the tax incentives usually granted in freeport and economic zones. AR is like the BARMM and its predecessor ARMM. SS is like the component state of Sabah, that by “accession” has joined the federal state of Malaysia.[iv]


    Is there a national consensus on how to pursue regional decentralization? Based on my personal obversation, there is none. In Luzon, the people and their leaders are apparently open to RA (as they already have the SBMA). However, they are indifferent if not opposed to either the AR or the SS. Note that even the Cordillera region did not create its own AR, even if so provided in the 1987 Constitution. In Mindanao on the other hand, I recall the words of our late mentor, Fr. Romeo “Archie” J. Intengan, S.J. He once told me that as far as the Muslim communities are concerned, anything less than “accession” to a federal state would not be acceptable. Knowing that Fr. Archie spent a good part of his life in the South during the martial law years, I take his subtle observations as words of wisdom. In Visayas, it seems their sentiment is closer to Mindanao.


    So how do we move forward if there is no consensus? Well, the answer should be obvious. We should take the “bottom-up approach” and let the people of the regions decide for themselves, rather than take the “top-down approach” and impose on the regions uniform structures designed from the top. We need to consider that there are many factors that influence the success or failure of regional decentralization, including culture, demography,geography, natural resources, public funds and even insurgency.


    While we have heard about the benefits of regional decentralization, people do ask – are there are pitfalls along the way? Yes, there are pitfalls ahead. Can we avoid them? Yes, of course, we can.

     

    So what are these pitfalls? From my engagement with people's organizations and concerned citizens, the major concerns include the“Balkanization” of the nation (or the secession of sub-states from the federal state), the huge cost of funding multiple regional assemblies, double taxation that overburdens the taxpayers, and a complicated legal system(with divergent legal frameworks across the regions) that hamper doing business and job creation.


    To prevent “Balkanization,” the federal constitution may categorically prohibit secession, and to this end, vest solely in the federal state the establishment of military (AFP) and police (PNP) forces. Borrowing from the laws establishing freeports and economic zones, the SS may have “internal security forces” which are actually government security guards with the limited task of protecting persons and properties.

     

    To avoid the huge cost of funding multiple new regional assemblies, the present mayors and district congressmen may be designated as ex-officio members of these assemblies. Under the 1943 Constitution, local officials were made ex-officiomembers of the national assembly.

     

    To avoid double taxation, we can temporarily retain the present public finance system where only the national government collects the major taxes (on income, value added and import duties), and thereafter allocate to the regions their fair and equitable share in the collections.

     

    To avoid a complicated legal system, we can also temporarily prohibit the enactment by the SS of laws onbanking, insurance, commerce (on goods and services), insolvency, intellectual property rights, professional practice, immigration, naturalization.

     

    Looking at all these limitations on the SS, are we not rendering it inutile? No, we are not. They retain the government powers most important to them, i.e. the power to approve plans, programs and projects, and the power to allocate public funds.

     

    So how do we move forward in empowering the regions? Check out the People's Draft (a crowd-sourced constitution), hashtag #PeoplesDraft. It is ready for discussion and deliberation on all points raised, and even more.

     

     

     

     

    Demosthenes B. Donato

    13 September 2019

    Makati City, Philippines

     



    [i]Principle of Subsidiarity – “theory in sociology, that functions which subordinate or local organizations perform effectively belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization;” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, (c) 2002, page 2279.

    [ii]Gonzalo M. Jurado, Notes on the Federal Structure for the Philippines, pages 2-4, 10 September 2012.

    [iii]Demosthenes B. Donato, Advantages and Disadvantages of Regional Decentralization, 27 August 2016.

    [iv]Principle of Accession – “the act of becoming joined (as in a confederacy or union);” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary Unabridged, (c) 2002, page 11.

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