By Lito Monico C. Lorenzana | The Manila Times
MR. President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., congratulations on your triumph! Our people have spoken as various surveys predicted. I wish you well. I also take the liberty of putting on paper some unsolicited suggestions, as you promised a unifying presidency. We have never met. You don't know me, and that is fine by me. I have not voted for you, ever, not even as senator. But you are now my president too. I also never met your father, although I voted for him in 1969.
The Centrist Democrats (CD) sent a memo for then President-elect Duterte, which I thought would be taken up at my first audience with him. He sort of hinted he welcomed ideas, especially from a Davaoeño who worked for Charter change in previous administrations. I was of course flattered by this "non-request" and drafted this two-page memo. This was sent to the Malacañang of the South (Davao City) for his review. I never got a reply to that well-constructed memo and that was that! Looking back, it was perhaps the Deegong's way of dismissing an audience scheduled at an ungodly hour nearing dawn.
Although I have not been asked to do so, I am writing a similar memo to you, sir, but this time publicly in my column. The Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) makes no suggestions on how to run your government. This is your mandate, not ours. No doubt you have a plethora of expert advice from your incoming Cabinet.
These concerns, as we see fit, have persisted for decades. Our treatise is that they are consequences of the systemic anomalies perpetuated by the unitary-presidential system and protected through the perversion of the Philippine constitutions. And if they contradict your appreciation of these problems, we hope this will precipitate a clash of ideas which could only redound to the benefit of the Filipinos.
But first, my credentials. I have been anti-Marcos since shortly before your father declared martial law. There were many of us then, but time has decimated our ranks and we are a dying breed. Those whose memories and experiences were defined by your father's despotic regime are now in the minority. Perhaps this is only fitting as your administration should only be defined by your own actuations — nothing more.
The Yellow Peril and 1987 Constitution
I worked with President Cory's government after the EDSA People Power Revolution terminated your father's regime. I am an original supporter of the Yellow color — before her son, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, co-opted and perverted the yellow symbolisms. I never met PNoy himself though I knew of him as a dilettante uninterested in the free tutorials in governance available to him as the unico hijo of a mother-president and heir to a storied political family.
My main tiff with PNoy was never personal but my disillusionment with the son of my former boss, was gradual, from his leadership flaws in the handling of crises that defined his administration: the Luneta hostage fiasco of August 2010; to Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan), the most powerful storm that hit the country in November 2013 devastating swaths of the Visayas region; to his personal motivations behind the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona where senators were bribed P50 million each to have him removed; to the Mamasapano incident in June of 2015 that caused the death of 44 elite SAF troops.
His economic achievements during his term, which could be considered as better than that of his predecessors, failed to mitigate these catastrophes. But the single factor that for me broke the camel's back was his refusal to consider systemic changes that were the curse of good governance, for decades and ensconced by his mother's elite cohorts in her 1987 Constitution with a pompous declaration that "not a comma of the 1987 Constitution will be changed."
As a backgrounder, the late Professor Jose Abueva and I were designated by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as chairmen respectively of the 2005 Consultative Commission (ConCom) and the 2006 Advocacy Commission (AdCom) tasked to recommend revisions to the 1987 Constitution. We sought to shift the Philippines from a unitary-presidential form to a parliamentary-federal system, while striking out the anti-foreign direct investments (FDI) provisions.
Centrist Democrats and the 4 pillars
Let me introduce my group to you, sir. We are adherents of CD ideals, and we situate ourselves within the wide center of the political spectrum with political ideologies spilling toward the center-left and center-right. I am a member of the CDP. Mindanao congressman and Deputy House Speaker Rufus Rodriguez is our party president. My party did not support you. But we supported Vice President Leni Robredo and Vice President-elect Sara Duterte. I infer from your statements that we share common cause with some important advocacies. This is the reason why I am writing you this memo. Unless systemic changes are applied to our current concepts and modes of governance, the Philippines will perpetually be condemned to stark poverty, corruption and social injustices — which you declared you wanted eradicated.
The following are excerpts from our literature.
"Human dignity is the core value of Centrist Democracy. We hold therefore that political, economic, and social order must be logically designed that the dignity of each person is promoted and enriched. Freedom is a prerequisite upon which human dignity is enhanced. Self-determination by each individual, an essential component, is the impetus for collective expression towards the development of a just society; and for society to prosper, it must make available to each individual the needed ingredients for a decent life.
"Complimentary to this, Centrist Democracy therefore embraces these essential sets of doctrines which we call the four pillars that support this core value: 1) We must strive to create a truly functioning democracy and the rule of law; 2) We must endeavor to establish a thriving social market economy (SOME), the reliance on free markets imbued with social responsibility; 3) We must work for the adoption and practice of subsidiarity in all structures of government and the principles of decentralization leading towards an eventual Federal Republic of the Philippines; and 4) We must help build up strong and sustainable political parties."
You ran under your clarion call for unity. By this we assume that you intend to bring us all together after years of polarization, disarray and acrimony. Your message resonated with the Filipino as reflected in the majority votes – unprecedented since you father's terms in 1965 and 1969. We glean from your pronouncements that you are now setting in process your priority programs, foremost of which is to end the vestiges of the pandemic which your predecessor has started to surmount but at a great cost to the country's economy. No doubt the economic team you are forming will find ways to get us through these difficulties setting the path towards recovery and eventual gains, expansion and sustainability.
Meantime we Centrist Democrats continue to fashion our role in a dynamic manner. For a vibrant democracy to flourish, we must remain critical to your government as a legitimate opposition.
For your consideration, sir.