The Country’s (Inter)Dependent Branches of Government

What we have today are severely fragmented and damaged political institutions. Initiatives for Constitutional Reform by key personalities from the administration are imbued with persona interest rather than genuine intent to reform our system. 

Independent in theory, beholden to one in practice. This statement describes the state of the country's three branches of government- the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.

The Philippines is a republican democracy wherein power is divided among three branches. These branches are supposed to be co-equal, interdependent and autonomous. The actual division of these branches in the Philippine Constitution clearly, though not expressly, highlights that separation of powers is a fundamental principle in Philippine Governance. Each of these branches is also granted powers to check on other branches so that no single branch has a monopoly in power (Principle of checks and balances).

The principle of separation of powers, however, is challenged by current institutional arrangements and behaviors exhibited by key personalities.

Current Institutional Setup

The Supreme Court (SC) is the highest judicial body in the Philippines. At present, the Chief Justice and associate justices of the SC are appointed by the President based on a shortlist submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council composed of government, private sector, and law practicing members.

Appointments made in present and past administrations have been a subject of constant controversy with claimed preference to classmates, friends and townmates of the appointing power over more senior candidates. This practice brings to the discussion whether we have a truly independent judiciary capable to exercise proper checks and balances.

Behavior of the Lower House

The independence of the House of Representatives has always been a question mark based on the influence the Chief Executive has on its decisions. It can be recalled that the Chief Executive was greatly involved in the forged term-sharing agreement for the House Speakership between Rep. Alan Cayetano and Rep. Lord Velasco. With reports that the term-sharing agreement will not be honored, the Chief Executive once again stepped-in to settle the issue.

It is also said by many that the Chief Executive's influence loomed large on Congress' decision to reject the franchise renewal of ABSCBN. Although the Palace claims its neutrality on the issue, the very own words of the Chief Executive at an event after Congress' rejection of the franchise reveal his seeming partiality against the network due to its alleged bias during the 2016 Elections.

These incidents have raised eyebrows whether the claims of a truly independent Lower House were indeed true or merely a farce.

Damaged Political Institutions

What we have today are severely fragmented and damaged political institutions. Initiatives for Constitutional Reform by key personalities from the administration are imbued with persona interest rather than genuine intent to reform our system. Further, ridiculous calls for a revolutionary government will totally disintegrate any effort to at least having a working (not necessarily effective) government for our people.

As the 2022 Elections are fast approaching, I’m reminded once again to help educate voters on supporting a leader with a vision for institutional reform.

Enough of populist candidates cloaked as “pro-poor, pro-country, probinsyano messiahs”! We need to save our country from your like!

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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