Cause of Social Dysfunction

Expanded presidential powers cause of society’s dysfunction

Philippine Daily Inquirer
9:27 pm | Sunday, November 17th, 2013
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In my commentary of Nov. 4, 2013, titled “The Philippines’ debt hole,” I failed to mention that in the United States all members, including the chair and the vice chair, of the Federal Reserve System or Federal Reserve which is the US central banking system, are appointed by the president but confirmed by the Senate. This secures the independence of the agency, whose main functions are to promote employment and prevent inflation through monetary regulations.

On the other hand, all seven members of our Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) are appointed by the president without confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, which is composed of senators and congressmen. The BSP has also the power to incur foreign loans with the “prior concurrence” of the president and to approve borrowings by local government units. The power to borrow money, both from local and foreign sources, is thus lodged exclusively in the chief executive.
In the United States, the power to raise money through loans is exercised exclusively by Congress. This is only rational because it is Congress that is empowered to pass laws to raise tax revenues for government expenses,
including debt payment.

Our public debt is now estimated to be at least 50 percent of our gross domestic product, requiring the allocation of 34 percent of our national budget to debt service.

Ever since the English Magna Carta of 1215, the “power of the purse” was lodged in the representatives of the people. The Magna Carta required the king (the executive) to get the consent of the people through the barons before levying taxes. Our 1935 and 1987 constitutions provide that “bills authorizing increase of the public debt” must originate from the House of Representatives, but “the Senate may propose or concur with amendments.” This has been ignored by Presidential Decree No. 1177 issued by Ferdinand Marcos, and by Republic Act No. 7553, the New Central Bank Act.

Further, the independence of the third branch of government, the judiciary, was also undermined when the 1987 Constitution removed from Congress the power to confirm the president’s appointments of the Supreme Court justices and the lower court judges. Under the 1935 Constitution, all appointments of justices and judges by the president must be approved by the Commission on Appointments.

But under the 1987 Constitution, appointments to the judiciary must be confirmed only by the Judicial and Bar Council, all seven members of whom, except one (a member of Congress), are appointees of the president. This is a farce.

Hence, the powers of the president have been enhanced resulting in the emasculation of the countervailing powers of the legislature and the judiciary. The cart of checks and balances between supposedly coequal and independent branches of government, necessary to prevent official abuses, has been overturned.

This is the main cause of the dysfunction and imbalance of our society, leading to massive corruption and widespread poverty that are now
agitating our people.

Movement for Truth in History (MOTH),

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