Like a sequel of a bad movie, Sigaw ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines are all set to test the waters anew with a second people’s initiative petition. Their proposal is to amend the Constitution to achieve unicameralism under a presidential set-up. In other words, abolish the Senate. And yes, they would like to do this before next year’s elections take place.
Under the initiative law, which ten SC justices said is valid, the Commission on Elections must put up signature stations in aid of any initiative filed with the body. With concurrent preparations for a 2007 nationwide polls, setting up such stations will deplete Comelec funds and distract its personnel and officers.
A second PI will also necessitate the use of government funds for “mobilization”, “information campaign”, and other hidden and thus difficult-to-account costs. It will also trigger more legal battles, more political debates, and give investors more reasons to avoid the Philippines altogether.
Allowing this to happen is irrational on the part of government and our leaders, tragic on the part of the Filipino poor, and suicidal on the part of cooperative local officials. The mere fact that it is being discussed, and that the Palace recently invited governors to “consult” them about it, tells us that a presumption of logic in decision-making at the highest echelons of power is dangerously over-stated.
That the president’s own chief of staff needed to go to the media to appeal to his own peers in the Cabinet not to push the country off the deep end, tells us that we are already in the ravine.
In the face of such irrational and irresponsible behavior, what are we, the people, to do?
We need to speak up and be more united. Stand our ground and let them know that what they are doing is shameful and wrong. Tell them that government is there to represent the people – without us, they are just a country club.
They already know this, of course. Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray comes to mind. The more they indulge in Cha-cha, the more lacerations our own self-portrait as a nation suffers.
So, are you ready for PI 2?