Basic Principles for Presidential Type of Government
This is my reply to Orion Perez D., a Get Real Philippines’ blogger, who posted the following statement on a Facebook group:
The key point is that ECONOMIC LIBERALIZATION is the most important agenda point, and its weighted accordingly with 50% of the entire advocacy being focused on it, and this is all about JOB CREATION and the removal of protectionism in order to allow more multinational companies into the country in order to create jobs for the people. Better bring the foreign companies into the Philippines than to keep sending OFW’s to foreign countries…
Evolving Region-based decentralization (aka “Evolving Federalism”) is at number two and it takes up 30% of the entire weight of the advocacy and it ensures that when economic liberalization does happen and jobs/economic opportunities are created for Filipinos in the Philippines, these jobs/opportunities are not concentrated only in MANILA, but instead, they are spread out across the regions.
Lastly, shifting to the parliamentary system is at number 3 and takes 20% of the entire “weight” of the advocacy. The parliamentary system ensures that we don’t end up with AIR-HEAD presidents who get elected solely on the basis of personality and popularity, but instead features a system where there is meritocracy within parties where the best people emerge on top. Moreover, parliamentary systems have proven to be more stable and more efficient, generally costing less in terms of election campaign costs as well as actual operations costs. Thus, advocates of “smaller government” usually find parliamentary systems to be more in line with their “smaller government” advocacy.
Parliamentary Systems also feature inherent policy-platform based dynamics that force political parties to become more platform-centric and less based on personality. Likewise, there is greater competition between parties according to results. Parliamentary Systems are much more “Market-oriented” in the sense that a political party must prove itself worthy of being voted in, and if it fails, then it loses to another party, just the same way that the market economy works: you buy the product you think is best for yourself and if you don’t like it, you go with the competition. Instead of individual candidates, the emphasis shifts to blocs and parties where campaigns become more focused on “what they plan to do” (platforms) rather than “how popular their candidates are.”
Presidential System versus Federal System? We have to consider first the basic principles!
I believe we have to scrupulously look at the difference and relation between political system and form of government. In my own opinion, political system is what defines the direction, the goals, and the future of a nation. There are many types of political system, e.g., capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, monarchy, etc. What the Philippines applies is the system of mixed economy, which is a mixture of freedom and state controls, or of capitalism and socialism (although I believe that we are moving towards a higher degree of socialism).
A form of government refers to political institutions that define and characterize a nation’s government/administration. It is sometimes called ‘system of government’ or ‘regime type.’
A political system (e.g., capitalism or socialism) applies a certain type or form of government so to achieve its national goals. For instance, most hard-core socialist states implement one-party system, which defines their form of government. These hard-core socialist states reject the notion of suffrage, transparency and honest governance. Whatever they/you call the head of a socialist state, the fact remains that he’s a dictator. In terms of its form of government, it is possible that a socialist state is ruled by one man or some council/congress/legislative body that serves as the country’s rule-making institution.
However, CAPITALISM applies a particular system that is and must be consistent with its basic principles, which are as follows:
- Individual rights;
- Limited government;
- Economic freedom
- Rule of law.
These principles/institutions define the concept of capitalism. Thus, the form of government to be implemented by the people must conform to the basic principles of CAPITALISM.
INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS mean the state/government must recognize and respect the people’s inalienable rights. Take note the word “recognize” and “respect”. This is because rights are not created by law or by some bureaucratic fiat. A “right” is natural; it is not man-made. It is innate to man. Some people ask, but what the heck is the source of right? Its source is YOUR/MY right to live. It’s man’s life. It means that if you want to live on earth as a civilized, dignified, proper human being, your rights must be protected and recognized by your state/government. However, your right to life does not mean the state or your neighbor is obligated to feed you. It simply means “a right of action in a social context”, or freedom of action. A right does not impose any form of obligation on others. Your right to education does not mean your neighbors or the state must pay for your school fees. It simply means NO ONE has the right to deprive you of your right to be educated.
LIMITED GOVERNMENT simply means that every government has its proper roles/functions. It recognizes the fact that there are natural laws and order on earth and in the entire universe. It’s akin to the law of gravity or the laws of physics and economics. Just as there must be order in man’s mind, so there must be some order in the government sector. The purpose of the Constitution then is to delimit and define the powers and privileges of the government, NOT to limit people’s freedom and rights.
ECONOMIC FREEDOM is part of man’s rights. It means that man has the freedom of action in a social context, e.g., to trade, to invest, to deal with human beings using the state’s legal institutions, to enter into contract, etc. It means that the government must not arbitrarily interfere with the nation’s economic affairs. The government’s only proper function is to protect rights, contracts, and to protect the people against fraud, criminals, scams, etc. Economic freedom does not mean anarchy or lawlessness. If a company commits fraud or any form of corporate crimes, the function of the government is to conduct proper investigation and to penalize the guilty.
RULE OF LAW refers to objective laws and order that define man’s relation to other men and man’s relation to the state. It means that the law of the land is the paramount law and that it must be objective and must not disregard the LAW OF IDENTITY, which simply means in layman’s term: You cannot eat your cake and have it, too. This concept recognizes the validity of two basic principles: 1) individual rights, and 2) role of government. It means that the state must protect its citizens against criminals, fraud, invasion, rebellion, treason, etc.
NOW, what’s the relation of “form of government” to the basic principles laid down above? The form of government must be consistent with the goals and aspirations of the nation. Unfortunately, our form of government departed from the American system upon which we borrowed most of our system of government and criminal justice system.
If we want a form of government that is and must be consistent with the FREE MARKET SYSTEM, we only have to properly define the roles and functions of the government, including the functions of its institutions and agents. Presidential system is just a form of government, which means it can be easily MODIFIED, CHANGED, ALTERED, or PERVERTED. One of the best imports of the United States of America is its presidential system. Its BEST import, in reality, is its Constitution, which was partly adopted by many states like France, the Philippines, among others.
However, the problem is that those countries that borrowed America’s presidential system merely implemented a PARTIAL copy of the system, disregarding its basic principles such as equal protection under the law, separation of powers, checks and balances, accountability of public officers, the proper concept of rights, and economic freedom.
The Philippines is guilty of national IGNORANCE and stupidity by perverting the concept of rights, by establishing protectionism, and by arbitrarily limiting economic freedom.
Our presidential system is NOT to be blamed for the country’s poverty, economic ills, and shameful cases of graft and corruption. It’s those who drafted the Constitution who must take the blame for our country’s ill, and the joke is on those who continue to support the system. We need a system that imposes separation of powers and checks and balances to safeguard our rights and future against any possible legislative farce and ignorance.
If greater efficiency and stability is what we want, we can achieve this goal by putting the government to its proper place. The government cannot legislate efficiency and stability. Economically, to achieve greater efficiency and stability the government only needs to do NOTHING except to protect individual rights.
If we want more investors, the solutions are as follows:
- Revise the charter;
- Implement the proper concept of rights. There are no such things as right to education, right to food, right to affordable housing, right to jobs, etc.;
- Separation of state and economy;
- Remove/repeal the country’s protectionist policies;
- Lower taxes and remove others;
- Abolish unnecessary government agencies and departments, and remove the lawmakers’ pork barrel;
- Abolish government-owned and -controlled corporations;
- Lessen government spending;
- Rule of law;
- Economic freedom;
If we want more accountability in the government, we only need to implement the law. The source of corruption is BIG GOVERNMENT. The solution then is limited government. Unaccountable, corrupt, dishonest president, lawmakers or politicians can be removed by simply inserting more safeguards into the Constitution. The president may be “easily” impeached by focusing on the articles of and any matters related to impeachment.
As to decentralization, in reality limited government is all about decentralization. However, if we want federal system, we only need to incorporate that political aspiration into the New Charter. In regard to this, the proper functions of the federal government and the state governments must be properly delimited and defined. This is to prevent certain problems like the ones caused by interstate commerce in the United States.