A matter of comparison
COMPARE the Marcos progressive 20 years in office, including the nine years of martial law, to that of the 31 years of the post-Marcos deregulated, privatized, corrupt and plunderous regimes, beginning with President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, and her favorite son, Benigno III, that ended in 2016 and the three presidents between them, and records will show that all of them largely wasted time and resources, creating and managing crisis, instead of shaping the future.
As a result, the country today remains an economic laggard, stuck in the cycle of deficit-spending and borrowing, high prices of goods, lack of strategic direction, beset by terrorists, serious problems on drugs, corruption, plunder, murder and other heinous crimes.
President Marcos’s accumulated official budgets in 20 years was only P486.42 billion, while the five presidents who succeeded him spent close to P35 trillion in 31 years, and yet Marcos had more tangible and intangible accomplishments to show to the people than any one or all of them combined.
In his time, Marcos gave much attention to the full and active participation of the citizenry in public and community affairs and the attainment of the highest integrity in public service. The 1973 Constitution, framed by the country’s best thinkers, adhered to these same basic guidelines.
In the 1973 Constitution, citizens were obliged to vote; and for the first time, the 18 to 20 year olds and those who cannot read or write were allowed to vote. The New Society has demonstrated its determination and courage to rid the government of the corrupt and the grafters—so does the 1973 Constitution provided for stiff sanctions against those who abuse their public office. Just as the New Society has made it plain and clear that there will be no buck-passing among those who hold public office, so too does the 1973 Constitution seek to ensure political and official accountability. In the old order, which the New Society seeks to dismantle, the structure of the government was essentially conducive to horse-trading and compromises.
The New Constitution joins this movement by adopting the parliamentary system of government to ensure that the Prime Minister and Cabinet become responsible to the country and its people through the National Assembly.
The regular “question hour” subjects these officials to an examination of their actuations. The Prime Minister, as a counter-check, has the right to dissolve the Assembly and demand the holding of a new election of members. No longer is there the permanence of fixed terms. A special anti-graft court, called Sandiganbayan, and a special complaints and prosecution office, called Tanodbayan, have been created for the citizens.
Both the New Society and the 1973 Constitution are concerned with the attainment of higher standards of living for our teeming masses. The New Charter empowers the National Assembly to create the National Economic and Development Authority to coordinate economic planning and development designed to maximize our human and natural resources and increase our competitiveness in the world trading market.
The New Society seeks to equalize the powers of the citizens and break the oligarchic society. The 1973 Constitution, likewise, seeks the larger distribution of wealth and income among the people. For example, the New Society promulgated the historic land-reform decree and issued various decrees on taxation calculated to bring about uniform and just taxation. The 1973 Constitution considers these same problems by limiting landownership, regulating its use, and prohibiting combinations in restraint of trade and unfair competition. There is free public elementary education; and, in areas where finances are available, secondary education shall be given free.
The New Society has made strong moves to decentralize the Manila-based powers of government by giving more autonomy to barrio governments. It has created an executive department for local governments as a sign of its intent in this area. The 1973 Constitution, likewise, mandates the National Assembly to enact a Local Government Code to implement the principles of local autonomy and self-reliance.
The New Society has repeatedly stressed the need for the integration of the Filipino nation, despite its plurality and conservative regional interests. The New Constitution promulgates the unity of the Filipino people as among its primary objectives. It asks all the diverse elements of our society to come under one fold and build one nation, indivisible.
The New Society has encouraged stronger ties between the Philippines and all countries regardless of ideology. In mounting quantities, foreign investments are coming to the country, a barometer of the confidence placed on the Philippines by the international community. The 1973 Constitution likewise encouraged this development.
When President Marcos certified to the ratification of the New Constitution by the Citizens’ Assemblies on January 17, 1973, the Philippines kissed goodbye an era of frustrations. What propelled us to a new chapter of our history? The inexorable forces of history itself? Or the men and ideas that saw conflict in this decade? Possibly, a combination of both forces.
In certifying the ratification by the people of the New Constitution, President Marcos reiterated:
- That civil government remains supreme, with the military playing a secondary role in the affairs of state;
- That the American type of democracy which has been practiced by our people since the 1900s “did not die” with the ratification of the New Constitution, but continues except that it is now devoid of its licentiousness and irresponsibility;
- That what has evolved from the Marcos leadership is not dictatorship of any kind or variety, but a constitutional authoritarianism dictated by the needs of the times and the peculiarities of the ideological forces at work trying to destroy our society; and
- That the Marcos Doctrine sought its strength, inspiration and vote of confidence from the people through the Citizens’ Assemblies and the barangays.
To be continued
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