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Same dog, different collar? Editorial for March 18, 1972

Same Dog, Different Collar?

March 18, 1972–FOUR months ago, the overwhelming majority of the electorate voted against six of the eight NP senatorial candidates (picked by President and Mrs. Marcos) as an act of protest against the Marcos Administration. No other administration had inflicted so much suffering on the Filipino people since the establishment of the Republic! Mr. Marcos, it was clear, could not win if he ran for President again—not if the elections are clean. He might not even make it if he ran for senator.

But if Mr. Marcos were to run for deputy in Ilocos Norte under the Parliamentary system, he would surely win in that province. Once in Parliament he could shoot for the Premiership—and get it. Nacionalista congressmen, with huge sums in criminal allowances collected during their present term and with additional financial support from Malacañang plus electoral frauds and terrorism, would support for Parliament on their respective districts and most of them would win—and, in gratitude for the help extended them during the elections, not to mention whatever they might get after, vote for Mr. Marcos for Premier. Thus, Mr. Marcos would be head of state for the third time. He would have run, in effect, for reelection a second time and won.

The evils of having a reelectionist President or head of state are well known and most of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had declared that they were against reelection for the President. A reelectionist President would mean monstrous graft and corruption during his administration to collect the necessary funds for his reelection campaign, then mass frauds and terrorism at the polls in addition to massive vote-buying to ensure his victory. Both democracy and the currency would take a terrible licking to make the reelectionist President win, judging from what happened in 1969. As President he would be in a position to administer that licking. And how the people, apart from the democratic institutions, would suffer as prices of food, clothing and shelter shoot up! There would be more demonstrations and slaughter of demonstrators and threat, once more, of military dictatorship.

Mr. Marcos is barred from running for reelection under the present Constitution but if the Parliamentary system were adopted, he could run for Parliament and return to Malacañang, regardless of the cost to the nation. By a dirty coincidence, many of those who were against the Parliamentary system before last year’s elections were converted to it after the miserable showing made by the Administration in the senatorial poll. The only way for Mr. Marcos to be perpetuated in power after 1973 is for the Con-Con to junk the Presidential system, which they had previously favored, and adopt the Parliamentary.

Dogs are dogs. Their canine behavior should surprise no one; for them to act with the dignity of human beings would be unnatural. But there are Parliamentarists who are so from conviction. Their arguments in favor of the Parliamentary system are, however, arguments articulated in a vacuum. Without the adoption of a Ban-Marcos or Ban-the-Marcoses provision in the new charter, they would be acting—objectively, judging from the results of their action, not their intention—no differently from the professional tuta of Malacañang. (It is argued that such a ban should have no place in the new Constitution because it would be directed at an individual, yet without such a ban, provision against reelection of the head of state would be discriminatory against everyone except Mr. Marcos who would be allowed to run for the position for the third time. They couldn’t run for reelection but he could!) Parliamentarists would be the same dog, in effect, though with a different collar. Whatever their intentions, they would be paving the roads to hell.

By their fruits should you judge them.

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