Why Arroyo decided to run for Congress: A perspective from a concerned young Filipino citizen

Why Arroyo decided to run for Congress:
A perspective from a concerned young Filipino citizen

By Marlon B. Raquel

With barely six months remaining before Mrs. Arroyo's term ends as the President of the Republic of the Philipines, many people are speculating what would Arroyo do (sounds like W.W.J.D., do you know that?) within that period. Of course, she is expected to perform her tasks as president but her decision to run for Congress in 2010 leads people to doubt her motives. She might use this 6-month period to solidy her support in the 2nd district of Pampanga.

According to Mrs. Arroyo, she is not yet ready to step down from power completely because she wants to take heed to the clamor of the people, especially from her own cabalens, to run again in 2010. In other words, Mrs. Arroyo is telling us that we still need her. On the contrary, many people don't like her anymore. The public wants her to step down from power which she is not willing to do so.

If the President really wants to serve the public in the years to come, she should have chosen to run for Vice-President. It's just one step behind the position of the Presidency. She could serve the entire Philippine Islands as Vice-President. But why Congress? She will only be serving the people residing in the 2nd district of Pampanga if she wins. I'll tell you in the latter part of this article why.

If the President really wants to give her sincere efforts to help the entire Filipinos, she could opt to run for a Senate seat. As a Senator, it would be her responsibility to create laws for the benefit of the general public. Again, same question is vital here: why Congress?

If Mrs. Arroyo really doesn't have any hidden agenda, she could have filed her certificate of candidacy as a Governor or Vice-Governor of Pampanga. She could serve all the cabalens not just in the second district but the entire province. Same question applies here: why did she choose to grab for a Congress seat?

We all know that moves to change our Consitution is still active today in the House of Representatives. In fact, a resolution calling members of both the House of Representatives and Senate to convene in a constituent assembly has been passed to discuss on how they could amend or revise the Constitution. These congressmen tried to ignore their conterparts in the Senate but fortunately, the resolution was just like a mist that vanished right away. I consider those congressmen who signed the resolution as acting like criminals. Many attempts have been undertaken since the Ramos administration to amend the 1987 Constitution but to no avail.

There is a need for us to understand what this charter change is, how it is related to PGMA's interest in running for Congress, and why a lot of Congressmen are very excited with the change. The present form of government we have today is presidential, meaning, the leader of our nation is the president. GMA is the Chief Executive. In a presidential form of government, it is divided into three distinct branches, each with its defined power and responsibilities - the Executive, the Legislative (House of Representatives and Senate), and the Judicial branch (Supreme Court and other lower courts). With charter change, the presidential form of government will be replaced with a parliamentary form of government. In a parliamentary system, the head of the government is the Prime Minister. It's either there will be no President at all or there would still be President but he/she would only serve as a ceremonial president. In other words, the ultimate power lies in the hands of a Prime Minister. The prime minister is both the chief executive and the chief legislator.

Another feature of a parliamentary form of government is that the prime minister is not elected through popular vote. He or she will be chosen by the members of the ruling or majority party. In our case, it is the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, of which Arroyo is the main leader of the party, which is dominant in the political system today. If in any case, Lakas-Kampi-CMD woul still be dominant in the 2010 elections, they would do everything to change the constitution. If successful, we will have a prime minister by 2013 perhaps in the person of GMA. Still GMA. I am quite sure that Arroyo would win in the 2010 elections as a Congresswoman in Pampanga. She has all the political machineries to use for her campaign. Her party members would then elect her to be the Prime Minister and boom! She will rule again as the head of our government, this time - indefinitely. If in a presidential form the president is limited to a six-year term, in parliamentary system there is no such thing. Arroyo could rule as many years as she wants as long as she has the vote of confidence from her party members. And I think she would be successful in leading the legislature. Remember the time when an impeachment complaint was filed against her. All of a sudden, some members of the Congress received a bag with P500,000 each. Wow! Strategic, right? Until now, no acceptable explanation has been given regarding the issue, so with the rest of the scandals involving the President, the First Gentleman, and her galamays. This is the very reason, at least to my opinion and the rest of the Filipinos who are doubtful with her motives, why Arroyo decided to run for Congress and not for the Vice-Presidency, Senate, or gubernatorial position.

Another striking characteristic under the parliamentary form of government is that Senate will be abolished. No more Miriam Defensor-Santiago who constantly bombards erring government officials with her hyphaluting words. No more Senators who are just sleeping in their chairs while the Senate is in session (they're bored). And this is also the very reason why the Senate doesn't want to have a constituent assembly to change the constitution. Although there are countries in the world that have parliamentary systems of government with a bicameral legislature, I doubt that those congressmen will approve it.

Personally, I see the need to change our 1987 Constitution. There are provisions that need to be amended to keep pace with this fast-changing world. However, certain conditions must be satisfied. First, it should be done after the 2010 elections. Second, the mode for changing the constitution should be constitutional convention and not constituent assembly. And lastly, the legislature should still be bicameral - with the House of Representatives and the Senate - for a balance of power.

With all these scenarios in mind, I totally agree with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's statement that she is not yet ready to step down from power because whether or not she admit it, she wants to become a prime minister in the country. And again, this is just my opinion.

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