We Should Elect Senators By Region

Posted: July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Note: I wrote this persuasive speech a month before the 2013 National Election. It was tragic, because my professor was not in favor of my proposal.

What I am holding right now is the official sample ballot for the upcoming 2013 senatorial election. This sample ballot gives us an overview of the list of politicians who are trying to win our votes by convincing us that they have genuine desire to serve our nation. As we all know, the election is scheduled a month from now. Have you finalized the list of senators whom you will vote for? If not yet, you better listen.

Here are some of the alarming facts that I’ve gathered during my reasearch:
– Are you aware that 82 % of the current Philippine Senators are from Luzon? And 52 % are from NCR?

– Are you aware that 88 % of the current senatoriables are from Luzon? And 67 % are from NCR?

– Do you know that there are three Cayetanos who became senators? And two of them simultaneously serve in the senate (Senator Pia Cayetano and Senator Allan Cayetano )?

– Do you know that there are also three Estradas who became senators? And two of them simultaneously serve in senate too (Senator Jinngoy Estrada and his mother- former Senator Loi Ejercito Estrada)? And history will repeat itself if JV Ejercito wins.

Considering all of these, can we claim that the current Philippine Senate may still be considered as the representative of the Filipino people? I don’t think so.

For that reason, I am going to speak about why Filipinos should elect senators proportionately by region to guarantee equal representation of the people in the Philippine Senate.

This is a complex issue, but you don’t have to worry, for easier comprehension, I have divided my speech into four parts:

First, I will give you a brief background of the current Philippine Senate.

Second, I will expose some disadvantages of the current system.

Third, I will cite concrete examples why electing senators by region is better.

And finally, I will give you an idea of what you can do to support this cause.

I devoted much of my time researching about this issue. I hope the effort pays off, if you could just spare a few moments to listen.

I firmly believe that we should change the way we elect senators because the current Philippine Senate is not “ representative” of the people anymore. The statistics I’ve gathered will support this claim: Only 3 out of our 24 senators are from Visayas and Mindanao; And most of them are coming from different politcal dynasties in the Philippines.

Using these data, we can say that the current senate is Luzon/Manila-centric and is just a mere family affair. They are not subjected to any constituents, they are only subjected to their own selves. No wonde they are not performing their duties well. Imagine, they only pass useless laws last year, including the Cyber Crime Prevention Law and Data Privacy Act while ignoring important bills like the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill that will distribute lands to the landless farmers. They are only wasting our nation’s money in irrelevant senate inquiries, while spending billions of unaccounted pork barrel funds amounting to 4.1 Billion last year (200 million per senator).

Undeniably, the Senate as a national institution has members who are more concerned in maintaining a “national” image than reaching out to regions and provinces which are often neglected by the central government. Here are some of the alarming examples: Literacy rate in ARMM is the lowest (78%), poorest province are in Visayas (29%) and Mindanao (56%).
Well, there are no studies that will link poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment to the way we elect senators, but please, let’s learn how to read between the lines. We should know that electing senators nationally didn’t do us any good for the past few years.

So, what am I proposing now? Well, for me each region in the Philippines should be represented by one senator elected by the people in that region. This will promote equality, cooperation and accountability.
This will promote equality becasue all regions, big or small, rich or poor, will be treated equally, for they will have equal representation in the Senate. This will pave the way for countryside development too, since the national budget will be equally divided among the regions.
This will promote cooperation for it will encourage local people to take active participation. Senator and Congressmen from the same region can work as a team as well, which has never happened before.
This will promote accountability because we will be more careful in electing our region senator and elected senators will be more sensitive to the needs of their constituents.

Once we have a Senate composed of Senators from each region in the Philippines, we will be sure that: the Senate will truly represent the ideals and aspiration of every Filipinos, we will see progress in underdeveloped areas in the country, and our senators will be more sensitive to the needs of their constituents.

Of course, we will not be able to achieve this without your participation. As ordinary citizens, here are some of the things that we can do to make this great endeavor a reality:
– Since electing Senators by region requires constitutional change. In the meantime, we should consider candidates who are amenable to the idea of having regional representation for the Philippine Senate.
– People in the Visayas and Mindanao should actively support senatorial candidates who have roots from these region.
– Educate others on why voting senators by region is better than voting nationally

Moving from centralized to regionalized senatorial election will not guarantee that Filipinos will stop voting traditional corrupt politicians, thus we should also not stop from educating our fellow Filipinos on what criteria they should use in determining whom to vote in the senate – principles, conviction, and genuine desire to serve.

Comments
  1. Archie dela Cruz says:

    From 1916 to 1934, we elect our 24 Senators per district. The Senate then was represented by 2 Senators from each of the 12 Senatorial Districts, which at present time is equivalent to the Regions. The term of office of Senators is 6 years. The system of election then was that 12 Senators shall be elected every 3 years. The National Assembly (which is equivalent to our present-day House of Representatives) has a term of 3 years. We patterned that system of electing our Senators from the US. However, the framers of the 1935 Constitution decided to have a unicameral system of legislature. Thus, the Senate was abolished. When the 1935 Constitution was amended in 1940, it re-establishes the Senate of the Philippines but the system of election was changed. The new system was that 8 Senators shall be elected at large every 2 years. The President’s term of office was also amended. It was reduced from 6 years (without re-election) to 4 years (with one-time re-election). The National Assembly was renamed as House of Representatives and their term of office was increased from 3 years to 4 years. That’s the reason why we had elections every two years in the past. We elect the President together with the Vice-President, Congressmen and 8 Senators. Two years after the presidential election, we elect the local government officials together with another set of 8 Senators. We practically have elections every two years until Martial Law was declared. The rest as they say is history.

    ADDED INFORMATION:

    Before Martial Law, elections were held on the second Tuesday of November. It was only changed in 1971 to second Monday of November. The President and Vice-President’s term begins at 12:00pm on December 30th after the election in November. That’s why in the past they took their oath at Rizal Park (Quirino Grandstand) at exactly 12:00pm lunch time. The President delivers his SONA every fourth Monday of January.

    Today, elections are held on the second Monday of May. The President and Vice-President’s term begins at 12:00pm on June 30th after the election in May. The President and Vice-President shall took their oath at 12:00pm lunch time on June 30th. The President delivers his SONA every fourth Monday of July.

  2. Joseph A says:

    Yes – I agree, but to be more specific, each region should be represented by AT LEAST ONE (1) senator, depending on the population. Further, the membership should remain at 24. These 24 slots should then be distributed proportionately to all regions. I imagine, there will be regions where it will have one (1) Senator, while a few, particularly NCR will have a maximum of three (3). I believe majority of the regions will get two (2) senators each.

  3. Archie dela Cruz says:

    The reason why each Senatorial District was represented only by 2 Senators during that time regardless of the population is because that system was patterned to the US Senate. The system of government of the Philippines in its early years of transition to democratic self-government was deliberately structured to emulate the American model. The Philippines thus followed the American system of electing the members of Senate. In the US, each state shall be represented by only 2 Senators in the US senate. The history why the US adopted a bicameral Congress was due to the clamor of both bigger states and the smaller states to be represented equally in the legislature. This was explained by Victor Avecilla in his article in Manila Standard:

    “Under General George Washington, the Americans won the war.

    Soon thereafter, the Americans proceeded to create their own brand of government. Because the Americans disdained the British monarchy, they envisioned a written Constitution and a government where the will of the majority prevails, and where its leaders are elected at regular intervals. For them, power had to be distributed among three branches of government – the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The government was to be a federal one which exercised only such powers vested in it by the federal Constitution, while all other government powers are deemed reserved to the states themselves.

    Congress was the legislature contemplated in the US Constitution. Initially, Congress was to be composed of representatives from each of the 13 states. In turn, each state was entitled to such number of representatives corresponding to the ratio of its population to those of the other states. Under this system, the big states with big populations like New York and Pennsylvania were entitled to several representatives each, while the small ones with small populations like Rhode Island and Delaware were entitled to just one each.

    Rhode Island and Delaware opposed the proposal because it was tantamount to their getting bullied by the bigger states. Unless representation in Congress was in equal numbers for all 13 states regardless of the size of their populations, the small states threatened to leave the union. From their point of view, they were better off remaining as independent countries.

    New York and Pennsylvania rejected the equal representation proposal. They argued that the proposal will give the minority the power to supplant the will of the majority. The big states also threatened to leave the union if the minority were to have its way.

    Almost overnight, the new country was on the brink of disintegration.

    Fortunately, the drafters of the US Constitution came out with an equitable solution to the problem. They decided to make Congress a bicameral legislature composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each state was entitled to two senators. That resolved the protest of the small states. In the House, however, each state was entitled to as many representatives in proportion to their respective populations. That resolved the protest of the big states. The arrangement was acceptable to all 13 states, and the union was saved.

    Truth to tell, a bicameral legislature is both cumbersome and costly. Legislation has to go through a tedious, protracted process which necessarily means more public expenses. Unfortunately, bicameralism was the only way to keep the American government from disintegrating almost upon its birth.”

    What Victor Avecilla discussed was called the “Connecticut Compromise”. The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman’s Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution. It retained the bicameral legislature as proposed by Roger Sherman, along with proportional representation in the lower house, but required the upper house to be weighted equally between the states. Each state would have two representatives in the upper house.

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