A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The Philippines is a democratic country! We have so much freedom here! We were once ruled by a dictator before but the unity of our countrymen were able to defeat the dictator and he fled to Hawaii on the 26th of February of 1986. That was how democracy was once again restored in the Philippines. Now, not a single trace of his dictatorship remains; or so I thought…

The government has three main powers: the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Under a democratic government, there are three branches of government which hold each of these three powers and are separated from one another. Furthermore, no single entity shall hold more than one of these powers. This is to prevent a dictator from rising once again. This is the democratic dictum of separation of powers! This is the democratic principle of trias politica! It is according to our constitution that the legislative branch be granted control over debt, budget, and appropriations. That is to say that the power concerning fiscal institutions was designed to be biased towards the Congress; and there’s nothing wrong with that. The people in the Congress are supposed to be our representatives and are therefore, expected to know more about the needs of the people. It is only logical to let them decide about public finance. However, a few years after the “end” of dictatorship, something contradictory begins to unfold. The so-called “Fiscal Democracy” that we’re supposed to be enjoying is nothing but an illusion. Where is this bias of the law towards the Congress with regards to public finance when former-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, started impounding on her opposition’s budget and realigning approved budgets? Where was it when she was line-vetoing budgets and re-enacting the previous ones? It’s gone…

But Arroyo is no longer our president now. There shouldn’t be any problems now, right? Well, think again. What Arroyo did before may sound… “awful” but it’s actually not illegal. Surprised? So was I? All of those things that were mentioned before, along with the power to represent our country and form loan contracts with other countries and the automatic debt servicing are all powers of the president as stated in the Revised Administrative Code of 1987. Ah! But perhaps we should have seen this coming. After all, some of the provisions of this administrative code were copied directly from Marcos’ budgeting system, PD1177. The dictatorial government’s public finance infrastructure endured… The problem lies in the very structure itself… She was merely exercising her powers as the president…

So there we have it! An entity that heads both the executive and legislative branches in a “democratic” government. An entity that was can constitutionally do the unconstitutional… A wolf in sheep’s clothing…

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