Robredo: PH not ready for change in gov’t system, advocates party reform instead
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo believes Filipinos are not yet ready to change the country’s system of government, advocating instead for clearer party-lines under the current system.
During DZBB’s presidential interviews on Monday, Robredo was asked if she has a preferred form of government in mind, like other predecessors, the most recent of which was President Rodrigo Duterte who tried to push for a federalist state.
However, Robredo said that what she would focus on is changing the country’s party system where the Philippines is an outlier as the country uses a presidential government but adopted a multi-party system instead.
“Kapag tinignan kasi natin ngayon, ano ba ‘yung klase ng gobyerno na meron tayo? Presidential pero multi-party system tayo. Eto medyo may disconnect ito nang konti kasi bihira ‘yung presidential na multi-party system. Kung meron man, mas exception to the rule siya, so tayo mas exception to the rule,” she said.
“So kung titignan natin ‘yung any changes or amendment sa constitution on the form of government, para sa akin ito ‘yung tignan natin: talaga bang nararapat para sa atin ‘yung multi-party system considering na presidential tayo?” she asked.
The Vice President clarified that while discussions for a federal form of government are OK, she thinks that the country is not yet ready for changes in the constitution as other regions may not be equipped with the resources needed for the shift.
“Ang mga advocate ng federal form of government para sa akin pwede itong pag-usapan ng masinsinan. Pero kung ako ‘yung tatanungin niyo, hindi pa tayo handa. Hindi pa tayo handa kasi kapag tinignan natin ‘yung lahat ng regions all over the Philippines, grabe ‘yung imbalance sa kakayahan ng mga regions,”
“Halimbawa sa Visayas, ‘yung pinakamaatas ‘yung income ay Region 7. ‘Yung Region 7 hindi ito kasing taas noon, o malapit sa Metro Manila. Kapag tinignan natin ‘yung Mindanao, ganoon din. Merong mga regions na sobrang layo ng income. So, kung papunta tayo doon sa federal form of government, ang important first step muna ‘yung kakayahan ng mga regions, ‘yung capacity nila para sa isang sistemang ganito,” she added.
Over the years, there have been many attempts to either change or amend the 1987 Constitution, which provided six-year terms to a president and vice president who were elected separately.
During the time of former president Fidel Ramos, there was a proposal to shift to a parliamentary style of government where the prime minister would be selected from among the members of the parliament.
Charter change was also alive during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, where decentralization of government through a unicameral parliamentary form was sought. Then as mentioned above, adopting federalism was also a campaign promise of Duterte, which led the pro-federalist party PDP-Laban to support his bid.
But less than a year into Duterte’s term, none of the proposals have been adopted, and the original system placed by the 1987 Constitution remains in place.
In the past, Robredo had already noted that the country’s party system is a mess, as officials would just jump ship to a ruling party after the elections — much like what happened to the Liberal Party (LP), which she is chairperson of.
After the 2016 national elections, a lot of LP members left the party and joined administration-allied groups like PDP-Laban.
Robredo thinks it would be difficult to use a parliament system as the voters would only have control over their representatives to the parliament — and not the head of state, which Filipinos may find uncomfortable about.
“Marami na ding pag-aaral na ginawa tungkol dito. At ang isa sa mga findings, ang Pilipino talaga gusto niya, siya ‘yung directly bumoboto sa pagkapangulo. Marami nang pag-aaral na mga napagdaanan natin, medyo hindi ko alam kung magiging— magwowork sa atin ‘yung parliamentary form of government,” she said.
“Kasi sa parliamentary di ba ‘yung— ‘yung pinaka pinuno ay pinagbobotohan ng parliament. Sa akin, puwedeng pag-aralan pero kapag pinag-aralan mo, kailangan talaga ‘yung mga debate ay masusi, pag-aralan ‘yung lahat ng mga anggulo,” she added.