For the next government, a citizen’s wish list

To the Representative to the House for Mandaluyong City:

I am Antonio A Hilario, resident of this city.

I am looking forward to Mr Duterte leaving office, now. It occurs to me that this is going to leave a sour taste in the mouth for the two-fifths of the electorate that managed to get their wish – a leader who promised straight talk, and fast, far-ranging solutions to complex problems.

 I count myself part of the opposition to Duterte’s “leadership,” if you could call it that. Apart from wanting a President who thinks clearly and deeply about things that matter to me, what do I want from the government that will supplant this one?
 
1. An election reform law in two parts: Modify the Omnibus Election Code to institutionalize a runoff mechanism to reduce a multiway Presidential race to a choice between two leading candidates. Let’s not do this again – permit a candidate chosen by a non-majority to impose a wildly unreal platform of governance on the entire country. And some sort of law that will attenuate the impact, if not remove the possibility, of forming a legislative supermajority like we saw with the 17th Congress. I don’t know if that’s a good idea, let alone how it can be done.
 
2. Immediately define a program to improve the Local Government Code to address both a) devolution of political and fiscal authority, and b) improvement of NG project budgeting for provincial infra development. We learned that a periodic review of the LGC needed to be done, was mandated to be done; the next government will just please see to it.
 
3. I want the banking system to extend credit to startup manufacturing enterprises that can be grown from Kickstarter– or Crowd Supply-like projects by Filipinos. I want our existing export industry to be mandated to support these enterprises. The idea is to promote what the previous generation called “high-tech industry” including not just electronics and communcation technology, but also maybe biotech and software engineering, and I.T. security. For example, it would be nice for companies like Mesco, who manufacture and market machine tools, be given tax credits for providing low-cost consulting and machining/manufacturing support for a bunch of inexperienced designers who want to bring a design to market. That’s going to take a regulatory framework I don’t feel is present today.
The circuit layout I cannot manufacture
The 3-axis desktop mill I’ve yet to complete

 

4. I want the Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights to institute a program to support litigation by victims of tokhang against the State, for the utterly irresponsible conduct of the present government’s “drug war” campaign. The country must make amends, by means including indemnification, to citizens harmed by this policy.
 
5. I want this problem of food security to go away: Government has to find a way to support ALL the smallholder food farmers to improve their efficiency and make rice and vegetable farms viable sources of income.
 
6. I want a fair share of the benefit and responsibility of using the West Philippine Sea, and for Government to work with co-claimants to put together a unified diplomatic front against China’s expansionism.
 
7. I want political party platforms, and not the whims of powerful, unaccountable patrons fronted by attractive personalities, become the basis for NG programs. This inescapably means that private campaign funding must become more strongly regulated, and possibly that money for e.g. airtime on commercial broadcast stations, indirect funding of political party operations (by tax credit, maybe) has to come from the public coffers.
 
8. I never ever want to hear again, the line that “the Constitution is trash”, come from the mouth of any Filipino of voting age, who has absolutely no argument to back that up. I put this to the secondary schools to have to fix. There’s only so much that an individual citizen can do to help make the Constitution accessible to others, and it is not enough to merely publish the Constitution online.
 
9. A president who isn’t such a fucking jackass (and deserved special mention in my privacy policy), who doesn’t represent the worst of the politics and mindset of the 70s – that would be good to have, along with a new government.
 
– Some thoughts arising from first reading, a couple of days back, Ateneo de Manila Lecturer Segundo E Romero‘s post on the idea of a shadow cabinet, a shadow government.

Human rights transcend
individual respect

Using lies to spread rumor of “widespread support!” for a proposed constitution, for a democracy, does not inspire trust. It invites scorn.
 
Neither do word games that hide far reaching consequences, such as changing this:
 
Section 11: The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights
to this
 
"The Federal Republic values the dignity of every person and guarantees full respect for the person and the right of all citizens to participate in all government processes."
 
which reduces the State’s obligation toward individuals to an abstract “respect” toward individuals, and “participation in government processes.” The revised wording is not an elaboration, but a contraction. A diminution of a value citizens can recognize, and that our State is supposed to uphold.
 
Why? The contest of asserting individual rights is inevitably social. Asserting human rights is bound up in how society treats whole classes of individuals. Especially (but not only) the marginalized, who otherwise have no power over circumstances that profoundly affect the course of their lives. Those conflicts, those contests, arise that are not resolved by the services of a bureaucracy.
 
Such conflicts, for example, may ultimately be about sovereignty over one’s body; the desire to be free to profess or reject any recognizably human creed; or to participate in expressions of rootedness in an identity shared with others, without fear of censure or shame, and as profoundly fundamental as one’s sexuality, or the color of one’s skin, or the language that one grew up with. Each such conflict has a history. The concepts, and the history to recognize and protect those examples, above, as goods, are contained by the words “human rights”.
 
The alteration or removal of these words (as in the draft constitution) signifies a turning away from recognizing those struggles (often also waged elsewhere), those histories as valid parts of human experience. There can be no bureaucracy so total, so far-reaching, as to be able to enforce a just solution to every instance of oppression; at least, I cannot imagine one that also allows us to be free. There is an economy to the phrase “guarantees full respect for human rights” that is ill served in the alteration. There is no need to do so that the high priest of legal scholarship Fr Ranhilo Aquino has bothered to explain.