* The CDP Political Platform was unanimously ratified by the National Congress held last March 25, 2012 at the Makati Sports Club, Leviste St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. However, discussion and debate is still encouraged to make the CDP Platform dynamic and responsive to the current Philippine reality. Kindly read and send your comments and suggestions to the CDP Main Office.
Centrist Democratic Party
Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya
For a strong and bright Philippine Nation
Our country is in a bad shape – 25 years after our peaceful “people power” uprising and the restoration of democracy, this is what we have:
We have hardening poverty everywhere and a growing disparity between the “have and the have nots”; darkening prospects for so many young people; the dominance of the oligarchy in the economic life, distorting market forces, deterring healthy competition; pervasive blatant impunity underscoring a weak rule of law and the inability of a soft state to protect all its citizens; a dysfunctional democracy with no real participation of the citizenry; and concentration of power in the epicenter and a highly centralized bureaucracy, neglecting the periphery of governance.
The problems are with the system – not with the Filipino. The structures provide no clear way out of this socio-economic-political quagmire; no incentives for integrity, good performance and accountability for public office holders and our political leadership; and scant possibilities for ordinary citizens to be active stakeholders in our democracy.
The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines has been established to effectively address the systemic problems of our country, among others: reduce poverty, create jobs, increase competitiveness, protect the environment, improve the judicial system, introduce electoral reforms, enforce the rule of law and truly make democracy work.
We have a clear political philosophy, anchored on the core value of HUMAN DIGNITY, guided by principles of Christian and Muslim social teachings – which we translate down to concrete and credible concepts and programs.
The underlying principles of our political agenda are our adherence to personal freedom tempered by personal responsibility, justice, solidarity, subsidiarity and equal opportunities for all.
We are a Political Party owned, funded and controlled by its members – ordinary, committed citizens of the Philippines. We are a party that will hold accountable through its members our elected representatives, not only during elections but also in between campaign periods. We serve no special interest groups, oligarchs or dynasties looking for power and profits. Our mission is to serve the Filipino.
I Philippine Social Market Economy
A. Our first priority: overcoming poverty and underdevelopment
The economy has to serve the people. Nearly half of the population is considered poor and one quarter lead miserable lives below the poverty line, in the fringes of society. This is an unacceptable condition. Human dignity embraces a people’s deep longing for freedom, for being responsible for themselves and their families and for being useful members of the community
(1) Job Creation through Free Market mechanisms & peoples initiatives
We do not believe in mere social assistance and redistribution of incomes as first measures to fight poverty. The core tool for poverty reduction is the creation of decent jobs for everyone able and willing to work. Jobs cannot be created sustainably by State fiat. We believe in the superior steering capacity of the free market mechanisms, which bring together in an efficient manner the capacities of people to produce and supply what is demanded at reasonable prices. More jobs are created by the citizenry themselves when these prerequisites are present:
- quality education is provided to all citizens;
- open markets where they can offer their goods and services are available;
- state bureaucracy and regulatory agencies are supportive of the business environment and economic activities;
- infrastructure is in place – power, water, communication and transportation;
- protection against unfair trade practices, discrimination and intimidation or violence by powerful market actors, cartels and monopolies is enforced;
- credits with reasonable interests and conditions are accessible and a cooperative banking sector is further developed;
- business associations and chambers of commerce/industry are established to enhance ethical practices and encourage their membership to adopt improved systems.
(2) The Role of the State to provide a supportive framework
A “weak and soft state” is unable to play a vital role in providing political, legal and economic framework for businesses to flourish, curtailing positive economic activity and discouraging dynamic responsibility of its citizens. Such is the condition of thePhilippinestoday. We therefore propose a strong subsidiary state.
- We support the adoption of the draft bill in Congress on a strong and independent Competition Commission (an Anti-Trust mechanism) that will break the grip of monopolies and cartels on all markets, ensuring fair competition and open market access for local informal business and local and foreign investors;
- We will further strengthen the independence of the Central Bank and promote an effective and transparent financial market system, making sure that the Financial Industry serves the real economy and does not focus on instruments and strategies which only benefit its own stakeholders.
- We will streamline and simplify the registration and licensing processes for all types of businesses by the regulatory bureaucracy and install mechanisms for transparent, effective and affordable procedures;
- We will give priority to the rehabilitation and improvement of basic infrastructures (roads and bridges, power, water, communications) with special emphasis on the dissolution of cartels in the port services, ferry providers and other transport operators;
- We will support and encourage the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises – not through government subsidies, but through access to credits and compelling the systematic assistance by business associations and local chambers.
(3) Strategic approaches for the promotion of inclusive growth
These approaches are to be applied by the State to ensure economic growth in the outlying areas.
- We will implement a countrywide economic development program where each province will have at least one medium level development centre identified and supported in its infrastructure development.
- We will create countrywide 80 – 100 hubs for local and foreign investors in order to provide jobs for the many young people who cannot be employed in the farming and fishing sectors. We have to offer them an alternative option from migrating to the slums of the big cities.
- We will increase the state budget for applied research which currently is the lowest in the region.
(4) Modernization and restructuring of agriculture
We strongly support the modernization and restructuring of agriculture and the development of agricultural processing industries. It is necessary to build our future on products where we have comparative advantage over other countries in the region. We have to stop subsidizing products which we can import cheaper from other countries – as long as the supply from regional or global markets is reasonably safe and sustainable. We will promote local and international investments in value added processing as substitutes for incomes derive from waning traditional farming and fishing.
(5) Responsible management of structural changes in fishery
Our country is blessed with rich maritime resources which have been the source of income for millions of families of fishers for centuries. Today the majority of the fisherfolks are living in deep poverty with dark prospects and pressure mounting year by year. Irresponsible forms of fishing have reduced dramatically the potential yields. At most places the ordinary small fishing boats are no more allowed to fish far outside the coastal lines as these areas are reserved through agreements for huge trawlers, mostly from other countries. The profits from selling the catch at local markets are poor due to the bad quality of transportation roads, high ports service fees, bargaining power of middle-men backed by the rich families and patrons on many islands. We cannot stop the trend to bigger boats and units and the structural changes in fishery. But we will strictly implement the laws against illegal practices of fishing. We will open the markets for the numerous cooperatives of small fishermen and break the power of middle-men and big traders. And we will systematically work on alternative job opportunities for young people from the fishing villages who cannot find jobs and income in traditional fishing any more.
(6) Responsible mining
We need to use all the natural and human resources of our country to overcome poverty and to achieve decent living conditions and welfare for all. This includes the systematic exploration and use of the rich mineral resources of our country by local and international investors. However, mining has to be done in a responsible way. We will enforce a strict adherence to all regulations, which protect the health, safety and decent payment of the laborers, the integrity and rehabilitation of the natural environment at the mining places and a fair participation of the local population from the profits and benefits of the mining activities.
(7) Systematic attraction of foreign technology and investment
We believe in the benefit of free trade and investment in a globalizing world. The unilateral protection of our national markets against foreign technology and investment in a time, where we are eyeing on an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, is anachronistic and supports only the small group of owners of huge Philippine companies dominating monopolized or cartelized markets. We have to amend the provisions in our 1987 Constitution which hinder foreign investors to build up production and bring in modern technologies into the Philippines, creating jobs and income for many poor families. However, the state has to ensure the strict enforcement of our labor laws and environmental protection regulations both with local as with foreign owned companies.
(8) Responsible taxation policy for an increased state budget
The State needs additional revenues in order to play its supportive role for poverty alleviation, inclusive economic growth and provision of social assistance. ThePhilippinesare trailing at the last position among all other Southeast- and East-Asian countries with regard to their tax collection quotes – resulting from a lack of political will. We favour a tax system
- with exemption of poor people and small incomes from income tax,
- with a progressive income tax leading up to 50% tax rates for very high incomes,
- with high consumption taxes for cigarettes, alcohol and luxury goods.
We have to encourage and support young citizens to take over entrepreneurial risks. Taxation should not punish the ones who are willing to take economic risks. We will support the reinvestment of private or corporate profits by tax free regulations in all economic sectors beneficial for the development of the country. However, no private person shall be allowed to save more than 50% of his profit/income taxes by tax free regulations. And we will ensure a strict and systematic tax collection through the professionalization of the tax collectors and the prevention of any type of corruption.
B. Responsibility for the future for our children: sustainable growth through the use of clean energies and environmental protection
We believe that we are the stewards of the Earth and that we are dependent on its resources and are thus responsible for protecting and maintaining these for the human race. We uphold and shall enforce the 1987 Constitutional provision regarding the responsibility of the State, as the collective representative of the people, to “protect and advance the right of the people to a healthful and balanced ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” We believe that this right does not cover only the present generations but also the generations yet unborn, and that this principle of equity also applies across communities and nations within one generation.
(9) Poverty and Environment
We recognize the interrelationship of poverty and environment where the poor: (a) live in places that are ecologically more vulnerable, (b) derive their livelihood income from natural resources, (c) are more vulnerable to environmental shocks with less coping mechanisms, and (d) can cause the degradation of the environment. We recognize therefore that in order to address the poverty situation of the country, we must ensure the protection of the environment. Such environmental change, however, is not a simple technical issue but has political implications considering the unequal distribution of environmental costs and benefits, where change signifies wealth creation for some versus impoverishment for others. We shall therefore ensure the proper assertion of the State’s responsibility, ensuring the protection and proper management of our country’s natural resources, to ensure that these are done in an equitable manner while taking into consideration the true value of ecosystem services and the full costs of environmental degradation.
(10) Development and Environment
Further, in light of the drive towards growth and the need for resources to support such growth, we shall emphasize the need for dematerialization of production processes to allow sustainable levels of material flows. We shall therefore encourage the development of technologies that increase productivity and efficiency, recycling, and more sustainable consumption patterns.
(11) Climate Change
We recognize the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings that climate change is already an “unequivocal” phenomenon. We also realize that the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts and thereby adopt the precautionary principle and shall take a more proactive position towards addressing climate change. We shall prioritize increasing communities’ resilience to climate change impacts (adaptation and disaster risk reduction) by ensuring the conduct of vulnerability assessments and the integration of these findings into the planning process and systems of local governments. Moreover, despite the country’s low contribution to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, we shall already seek means to manage emissions and encourage the development of low-carbon communities as part of our moral obligation as guardians of the Earth. Finally, in light also of the cross-sectoral nature of the issue, we shall encourage coordination and cooperation among the institutions, the participation of local communities in the planning and implementation of strategies, and further empowerment at the local level.
(12) Renewable Energy
Development and growth demand energy. At present, there is still a sizable Philippine population without access to electricity and rely on conventional sources of energy (i.e. firewood, charcoal, biomass). The additional time and effort for their collection/production results in lost opportunities for income and education as well as poorer health, especially for the women in the household towards whom such responsibilities are given. Thus, in order for us to lift people out of poverty, we must provide them access to affordable modern sources of energy, since these are also prerequisites for safe drinking water, lower child mortality rates, agriculture, lighting, transportation, telecommunications and entrepreneurship. It is with this perspective and the knowledge that our supply of fossil fuels in this world is limited that we find it mandatory to actively decrease our dependence on fossil-fuel based energies as we encourage rapid development of technologies to make almost limitless amount of renewable energies accessible and affordable to the majority of the population.
(13) Air Pollution
It is necessary that people are given rightful health. The air pollution levels in major Philippine cities are above maximum particulate levels. It is estimated that more than a million people get sick and thousands die prematurely every year due to outdoor air pollution in urban areas in the Philippines. Most vulnerable to these are the urban poor who live on the side of roads exposing themselves to the highest level of air pollutants that will have detrimental effects to their health and welfare, thereby affecting their productivity and general well-being. It is our responsibility then to create more livable cities, by not only enforcing air pollution laws consistent with the Clean Air Act, but by also planning urban spaces and by developing and implementing policies and programs that will reduce the incidence of emissions at a systemic level. Special attention must also be given to the transportation sector from which majority of these emissions stem.
(14) Water Pollution
Water pollution has also become an increasing problem in urban areas, with almost half of the pollution coming from domestic solid waste and wastewater, leaving water bodies biologically dead. Poor solid waste management, together with the absence of sewerage systems, results in the contamination of these waters. This is further worsened by the presence of slum communities along rivers, creeks and coastal areas where communities dispose their waste into the nearby water bodies. The lack of access to safe water, whereby the poor bear the majority of the burden, results in increased malnutrition and high morbidity rates. We shall therefore ensure that proper waste and sanitation systems are set in place and fully implemented to avoid the further pollution of our waters, as we seek to rehabilitate existing water bodies.
C. Fighting for a humane society: Each and any citizen is entitled to live in dignity. This has to be ensured by the State.
Open markets and fair competition, protected by a strong state, are fundamental conditions for a productive economy, in which enough goods and services can be provided for the welfare of all citizens. But they have to be accompanied by effective policies and measures of a socially responsible state in order to create a humane society in which each and any citizen can live in dignity. The State has to ensure decent life for the weak and the disadvantaged members of society. He has to address the manifold present social problems in the Philippines.
(15) The family – fundamental structure of society: to be supported by the state
We believe that the family as the fundamental structure of a humane society has to be promoted and protected by the state. The state has to support the parents in bringing up, taking care for and educating their children – where necessary also with financial assistance. When a family cannot live a decent life by their own resources and no help is available from relatives or private and religious organisations, the state has to provide social assistance – always with the approach of help for self-help in order to overcome this situation as fast as possible.
(16) Effective protection of human life
We believe in human life as the highest good and value in our world. It starts in the family and has to be protected from conception until natural death by the state. But it is not enough that the state prohibits killings and abortion in poorly enforced laws. The state has to get serious with its efforts to end the impunity culture in our country, to investigate effectively, bring to the court and ensure a fast process for all the violators, be it simple criminals, extremist rebel groups, members of ruthless clans or business groups, misguided law and order promoters or powerful individuals in the security organs. And the state has to provide consultative help and financial assistance – subsidiary to religious and humanitarian organizations – to pregnant women who find themselves in desperate situations in order to help them to give birth to their children in decent circumstances.
(17) Responsibility for children´s lives in dignity
We strongly believe that parents have the first and highest responsibility to ensure a life in dignity for their children. This includes that they have to consider well, not having more children than they can take care for, children who with a high probability will grow up later in deep poverty and misery. The state has to help them to understand this responsibility by enlightening them through information and counselling services. However it has to stay in the free decision of each family and in their exclusive responsibility to decide upon which measures they will employ to eventually limit the number of their children – as long as they respect the absolute taboo of taking human life.
(18) State shall enforce responsibility of both parents
The state has to support also the mothers or fathers, who are left alone by their partners to take care for their children. We will ensure that legal measures will be drafted and enforced systematically to hold both parents financially responsible for the upbringing and care of their children, if one of them decided to leave his partner alone with the child. This we owe not only to the parent – mostly the mother – who is taking over the responsibility alone for the child, but also for the children, who are often suffering under most miserable living conditions.
(19) Stop the trend to force Philippine citizens to look for labour abroad
We have to turn the trend of forcing more and more Filipinos to leave the country in order to find labor and income outside. The actual situation at the Philippine labor market and the active support of this migration by the Philippine Administrations in the past for fiscal reasons has not only lead to an exodus of many of the brightest young people of the country and many of the more dynamic personalities even among the less educated parts of the population. It also creates huge collateral damages in the Philippine society, as many of the migrants are mothers or fathers of young children and leave behind their partners with the children, leading often also to the complete and final breakup of the families. A policy which actively encourages and supports foreign investment in the Philippines – last, but not least by amending the restrictive passages against foreign investment in the Philippine Constitution – can contribute effectively to build on the comparative advantages of the Philippines in international competition and to open options for these people to find employment in our country. However – given the actual situation with a huge number of Overseas Filipino Workers all over the world – we will work on mechanisms for a strong reduction of costs for the transfer of money by OFW to their families and for attractive models of investment for major part of these transfers in local and regional projects.
(20) Ensure quality education for each and any Philippine child
Education is a fundamental right of each person. It is the basic and most important precondition for the equality of opportunities. Education is the first and indispensable tool for overcoming unemployment and underemployment in the country, because it provides human beings with the opportunity to develop their talents and skills for a productive participation in economic life. ThePhilippinesis the country in East- and Southeast-Asia spending the lowest share of its GDP for education. We will triple the national budget for education within 3 years. We have to ensure that each and any child will be enrolled in school and that at least 90% of all children can finish high school. In order to achieve this goal we have to extend the Conditional Cash Transfer Program beyond its scheduled limited duration and sharpen its focus on the basic education of poor children. We have to offer free meals for children of poor families during their school classes and assure the free provision of school books and learning materials for them. We have to rehabilitate school buildings and facilities all over the country and to provide the schools with decent teaching facilities and equipment. And we have to increase the salaries of the teachers to enable them to live by these salaries without being forced to look for other jobs and sources of income.
(21) Education Initiatives
The system of education must be crafted to serve the citizenry, especially the young people as an entry into the labour market.
It is a betrayal for the young to waste precious years paying exorbitant fees at educational institutions that are unable to provide them the skills that are demanded at the labour market. We also acknowledge the diverse and disparate aptitudes of the populace and therefore the system must be so designed as to serve well both the professional and vocational calling. The dual system of education shall become, in a medium term perspective, dominant.
- We will shut down state and private education institutions which lead their students into a future of unemployment and frustration;
- We will promote the establishment or further development of institutions offering engineering and any other type of technical qualifications with market driven demand;
- We will systematically develop the dual system of professional/vocational training by involving the private local and foreign companies into an effective cooperation with technical schools and academic institutions both in the development of curricula and in the integration of major modules of practical learning in factories, workshops, offices and laboratories in the respective careers and professions, under the joint supervision of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the respective State Agencies.
(22) Improvement and extension of the public health care system
Health care is another fundamental right of each human being. The public health system in thePhilippinesis in a miserable condition. We have to ensure access to basic health services for all people in all parts of the country. Members of very poor families have to be treated for free and receive necessary medication for free. The PhilHealth insurance system has to be cleaned from corruptive practices – like the distribution of PhilHealth membership cards during election campaigns – and extended to all groups in the population, which cannot afford private health insurances, i.e. small vendors, farmers, fisherfolk. The prices of medicine in the Philippines are among the highest in the world. We will open the pharmacy market for real and fair competition and break the market power of the actual dominant distributor.
(23) Social Assistance – protection of the weakest
We believe in the principle of subsidiarity. When a citizen or a family are not able to cover their basic needs for survival, the relatives, neighbours, religious or private humanitarian groups and services shall show solidarity and support them. However, if this private help is not available or not sufficient, the state has to guarantee a minimum of material means to ensure a life in dignity of these citizens. This social assistance shall focus on helping these citizens or families to overcome the situation and not to create permanent dependency from the state subsidies. However, in cases of unsolvable problems or weaknesses, handicaps or diseases the state support has to be provided as a permanent support. It shall be organized on the level of the smallest local government units in order to ensure a targeted assistance based on a realistic assessment of the situation of the respective citizens or families. The national administration has to provide and transfer sufficient funds for this assistance out of its national budget to the local governments.
(24) Address the problem of the slums and urban poor
The living situation of huge numbers of Philippine families in the urban slums of the country – including many millions of children and youth – are an unacceptable violation of human dignity and a scandal for a value based democratic country. The key approach for the solution of the urban slum problem is the reduction of the pressure from uncontrolled migration from poor rural areas into the big cities through
- the systematic development of urban middle centres with modern infrastructure all over the country connected with effective transportation systems and
- the reduction of the high population growth rates in the poor rural families.
- However, where huge slum areas already exist and cannot be dissolved in a humane way by forcing the inhabitants to go back to the desperate places where they came from, integrated solutions have to be designed and implemented in order to develop for and together with the people in these areas livable environments with perspectives for decent, normal lives. As it has been demonstrated by so many civil society initiatives and projects, the solutions have to build on the empowerment of the target group, their education and professional trainings, their self-help efforts for developing sustainable small businesses, building houses and neighborhoods. But the state has to systematically support these integrated, self-help based efforts by providing clear and supportive legal and political framework, schooling, access to electricity and fresh water for affordable prices, social consulting and the necessary funds. We request each city government affected by these problems to develop a realistic medium term plan to solve their slum problems. And we demand the national administration to develop a national coordination and support programme in order to enable, support and control the respective cities in these efforts.
(25) Improving the situation of the Labour Sector in the country
During the last years the number of Filipinos employed in call centres and other out-sourced sectors of international companies and factories has been growing continuously. However much more growth of these employment opportunities would be possible, when thePhilippines
- would open up their economy more for international investors,
- dissolve and control the monopolies and cartels in so many local and national markets and
- reduce their cumbersome bureaucracy.
Less than 10% of the Philippine labour force is nowadays included in the formal sector – the rest is working in completely unprotected situations. The Philippine labour laws follow international standards, but in many cases they are not implemented. We promote a continuous, institutionalized dialogue between the Philippine employers associations, the trade unions and the government on:
- the development of decent and realistic labour laws and protection regulations and their strict implementation;
- a labour market policy which includes more and more parts of the informal sector into this protected framework and at the same time
- uphold and increase the competitiveness of the major economic sectors in thePhilippinesin the regional and global framework.
And we will promote the development of a co-determination model in which elected representatives of the workers and employees in major companies will share responsibility for the management and strategic decisions with the representatives of the capital.
(26) Adopting and implementing a fair land law
We support the adoption of a fair land use law by Congress. The majority of the farmers and small house owners have to live in a situation, where they do not have clear legal ownership of the land, what they use. This creates not only difficult situations with regard to the use of income and profits earned on this land, but it prevents also many potential small and medium investors from realizing their plans for future business and creation of jobs. We believe that a fair and socially just land law is a precondition for social peace and successful economic development in each country. We demand to give priority to the adoption of such legislation and to set up an effective control system for the transparent and fast implementation of the law in all parts of the country.
(27) Protecting the consumers in a highly cartelized market
The Philippine markets for food and the goods of daily consumption – beside small markets for local food – are dominated by few powerful businesses and conglomerates, restricting the competition by prices and quality to the disadvantage of the consumers. Additional problems are the overwhelming, uncontrolled and omnipresent advertising and the nearly complete absence of control of quality standards and of fake products – even in sensitive markets like medical products and food. We request the development of a strong consumer protection authority with branches in the different parts of the country. This authority should have the right of observation and investigation on the authenticity and quality of products and should have access to the main popular media in order to inform the population. Furthermore it should be able to initiate law suits against the producers and distributors of fake products and dangerous products on behalf of the consumers.
(28) Protecting culture, rights and equal opportunities of indigenous people
Several million indigenous people from many different tribes are living on the different islands of the Philippine archipelago. Most of them are highly discriminated in the use of their culture and language, the respect of their traditional rights and mores and in their participation in social, economic and political life of the country, following the principle of equal opportunities. The problem is not so much the absence of protecting laws, but the lack of implementing secondary law, contradictions between the laws protecting them with other laws of the country and the lack of practical implementation of these protecting regulations. We have to support the many initiatives from civil society organizations and some less powerful state agencies to empower them and to bring them in the mainstream of the socio-economic development and political life of the country. The improvement of their situation has to be a cross-cutting issue to be considered systematically in the impact of all new legislation and policies.
Chapter 2: Democracy and Rule of Law
A. Taking democracy seriously: equal opportunities for democratic participation
Democracy is not just an electoral system, in which the majority of the votes decides about who can govern the country or the local community. Democracy is a set of values and principles which ensures the integration of all citizens into decision making in the community as well as fair, transparent, effective procedures of governance, the proximity of decision making to the citizens in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, accountability of the elected representatives of the citizens and all civil servants, and the integrity of the political life of the country.
(29) Establishment of a truly democratic political party system
Political parties are key actors in a democracy. Without political parties, citizens are not represented in governing institutions, cannot control power and participate in decision making, thereby unable to prevent abuse of power.
- Political parties need to be owned and controlled by their members, following strictly internal democratic procedures;
- they need to have a clear programmatic orientation and provide policy options for the electorate;
- they need to organize ongoing activities for members and interested citizens and to hold accountable the elected representatives between the election and campaign periods.
We do not have such parties in our country. Our political party system is weak. Therefore our democracy is weak. We, the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines, demand a reform of the legal framework for political parties in the country. Only parties, which are member based, with internal democratic structures and procedures and clear programmatic orientation shall be permitted to file candidates for elections. Turncoatism has to be limited. The amount of donations for the work of political parties has to be limited to 1 Mil Pesos per natural person and 10 Mil Pesos per juridical person (company). The state has to provide subsidies for such truly democratic political parties in accordance to the number of votes they can gain in elections, in order to make them independent from big donations, enable them to qualify their leaders and to organize continuous dialogue between the citizens and their elected representatives.
(30) Political Education
We consider a sound political party system one cornerstone of a vibrant democracy, the other one is a well educated citizenry. We will introduce a systematic and intensive element on political education as part of the national curriculum for secondary level schools in order to provide the young citizens with a sound knowledge and understanding of democratic mechanisms and good governance.
(31) Reform of the electoral system
Our electoral system, in which 80% of the members of the House of Representatives are elected in one-man congressional districts, supports the success and sustainability of political dynasties and powerful families all over the country. The party-list system, pretending to provide access to political power for representatives of marginalized groups, in fact only leads to a factionalization of the Congress and is heavily misused by powerful and rich families and personalities. This system, which by the Constitution and in its implementing law was introduced only for a transitional period of three elections, is perpetuated due to vested interests of many persons directly benefitting from it. The members of the house shall be elected in a mixed system of 50% direct elections in Congressional Districts and 50% election in a proportional system through party lists from all parties registered and accredited for participation in the elections without limitation of seats for each party. This will ensure a very effective representation of different sectors and marginalized groups as candidates on the party lists of major national parties, competing with each other for the votes of the respective groups of citizens.
Furthermore the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines will fight for the reform of the election periods of national and local elections. Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives shall be elected for four years with possibility of re-election for two times. Governors, Mayors and all elected local officials shall be elected for five years with possibility of re-election for two times. This will strongly improve the quality of the work of these democratic institutions, enable them to follow more medium and long-term objectives for the benefit of the citizens and save money through the reduction of the number of costly election campaigns. In addition to that people must have access to effective local executive recall elections that are also not easy to abuse.
(32) Strengthening of Local Democracy and local Self-Government
In spite of the bold intentions and far-reaching provisions of the Local Government Code from 1991 our political system continues to be highly centralized until today. Provinces, cities and municipalities are widely dependent on financial transfers from the central government, which can be used through delays or denial of provisions as tools for controlling the respective local administrations and undermining their self-government rights. We request a general overhaul of the Local Government Code, which is mandated by law to be done by Congress every five years but has never been done at all since 1991. These amendments have to lead to a review of all state powers and administrative services, following the principle of subsidiarity: providing the decision making powers the financial means and the human resources for the respective tasks and services to the lowest possible level of administration, taking into account the optimization of peoples involvement, satisfaction of their real needs, accountability of the respective offices and civil servants and of economic rationality.
(33) Strengthening of the Regions as a first step for the establishment of a Federal System
The Archipelagic character and the diversity of the population of the Philippines are facts which make a Federal System of Government highly recommendable for the country. As a first step we demand the establishment of a limited number of 10 – 12 regions, covering the whole country, as autonomous, democratically controlled sub-national entities. The division of power between the central state and these regions shall be discussed in line with the principle of subsidiarity, providing the regions with a high level of autonomy focusing on issues of culture, education and economic development. The regions shall have direct share and power to collect all taxes and remit to both the National Administration and the component LGUs their respective shares. The regional governments shall be controlled by an elected regional council. The election of the Senators shall be amended from national to regional elections, changing the role of the Senate in the government system of the country into a National Representation Chamber of the Regions in legislation and supervision of the Central Government.
(34) Replacing the Presidential System by the Parliamentary System of Government
The first Democratic Constitution of the Philippines in 1898 decided to establish a parliamentary form of Government. However under the influence of the American Colonial Power a copy of the American Presidential System of Governance was taken over in the 1935 Constitution. We strongly promote the replacement of the Presidential System of Government, which has been confirmed again in the 1987 Constitution, by the original Parliamentary System of Government. History of the last 25 years under the 1987 Constitution has shown that there is a strong imbalance of power under this system, with the danger of misuse of power by a strong president, who cannot be really controlled after being elected for six years. We have to provide real power of control and oversight of the Administration to the elected representatives of the people in the Congress and clarify the role of the Judiciary by creating a Constitutional Court– not to be involved easily in the daily political struggles and decision making of the executive and legislative powers.
(35) Fundamental Reforms of the Constitution
The creation of a Federal Philippines, the replacement of the Presidential System by a Parliamentary System of Government, the meaningful reform of the electoral system to a more participatory democracy, the opening of the Philippine Economy for international investments and free trade need constitutional reforms – as it has been demanded by responsible patriotic politicians and experts for many years. Without these fundamental amendments of the 1987 Constitution the patronage system, the weaknesses of democracy and rule of law and the miserable living conditions of so many Filipinos cannot be changed in a relevant and sustainable way. The Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines will make the fight for these constitutional amendments a priority of its policies.
(36) Removing structural incentives for corruption and unaccountability
The actual political structures and procedures include many elements which lead directly to corruption and unaccountability of major public office holders.
- We will eliminate the system of pork barrels. They have been used in all administrations during the last decades as an instrument of control of the legislative power by the President – undermining the independence and responsibility of the Congress. They are often used to finance projects, which are not in line with or not priorities in the socio-economic development plans of the legitimately elected representatives of the citizens in the local administrations and councils – serving mainly the re-election attempts of the incumbent members of Congress. And in many cases the costs are inflated in order to provide the respective members of Congress with funds for the reimbursement of their campaigning costs or for other non-legitimate purposes.
- We will support the long-term efforts of civil society to adopt the Right to Information Act as an important instrument for more transparency in the relations between the administration and the citizens.
- And we will work on an overall reform of the civil service with the objective of creating a lean, highly professional, well paid bureaucracy – with focus on the fields of customs, taxation, biddings, police and other departments prone to corruption and misuse of power.
(37) Strengthening independence, quality and responsibility of the media
The media have to play a crucial role in a democracy. They have to provide the citizens with clear and understandable information on events, developments, problems, decisions to be taken and options promoted by different political stakeholders. However, in the Philippines many of the influential print and audiovisual media are under the influence of big families and are lacking independence in reporting and analyzing issues and positions. The information quality is often poor, many journalists are not qualified and do not act responsible or are open for bribery. On the other hand journalists who try to address serious problems of social injustice, corruption, impunity, unfair trade practices are intimidated or even risk their lives. We will work in order to enable media to play their role as the fourth power in democracy. We will enforce transparency with regard to the ownership and dependencies of major media, improve the economic independence of media, develop measures for the stronger control of professionalism of journalists and for more effective protection of journalists against threads.
(38) Respect for the moral authority of the religious communities
The Roman Catholic Church and the other Christian and Muslim Religious Communities are highly important institutions for the well-being of the Philippine people. In promoting a society protecting and fostering the core value of human dignity they can use their moral authority for providing orientation to the citizens and political decision makers on direction and priorities for the solution of the serious problems in the development of our countries. We, the Centrist Democrats of the Philippines, are looking forward to a continuous fruitful dialogue with the leaders of the religious communities. However we believe that it is in the responsibility of the elected representatives of the people to discuss and decide upon the concrete options and technical solutions for the implementation of our core value of human dignity and of our principles into political strategies and actions. The leaders of the religious communities shall respect this authority of the democratic institutions of our state – as long as they do not violate basic ethic principles as enshrined in the natural law.
B. Making justice work for all citizens: effective protection for people and business
The rule of law is weak in the Philippines and plagued by many problems. People need a functioning law and order, human security, protection against aggression and injustice, predictability, effectiveness and transparency of the legal system and the judicial procedures. To improve and even rehabilitate the rule of law is a precondition for the protection of human dignity and for improved economic productivity in the Philippines. It is a priority for the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines.
(39) Reform of the police forces for the improvement of human security
The police is not effective in preventing the high level of daily violence and in bringing criminals to justice. This can be attributed to insufficient training, poor equipment, low wages and pervasive corruption within the ranks. We will speed up the reform of the police of the country. Key elements of these reforms will be:
- Police forces in the cities and municipalities have to be put under the control of a special police command chain , at regional and provincial/independent city level;
- All police officers have to undergo a capacity analysis, leading to a regrouping for different tasks for the best 60% of them in accordance to their respective capacity profile, followed by specialized trainings for their new tasks;
- The salary of the continuing police officers shall be increased by 100% in 2 steps within 4 years, meanwhile the number of the individuals serving in the police force can be reduced by the 40% with lowest competence and performance scoring during the same period;
- The regrouping and training of the police force to specific tasks has to go hand in hand with the purchase of modern equipment for the respective tasks. One priority is the purchase of modern forensic equipment and the training of the respective officers in its use in order to improve the possibilities of solving criminal cases without solely relying on oral testimonies of witnesses, who often will be intimidated in spite of improved witness protection measures;
- Training on human rights and on respectful treatment of all citizens shall be a core part of the retraining curricula;
- An effective monitoring and evaluation system for the performance of the police officers has to be developed and implemented, with a focus also on the early discovery and strict punishment of corruptive behavior and other wrongdoings.
(40) Reform of the court procedures and other measures in order to make justice work
Impunity is high and the rich ones have ways of buying themselves out from trials or even from prison. Further to the reform of the police force we shall focus on the following reforms in order to make justice work:
- In criminal court trials the party losing the case has to take over all court fees and costs for the procedures (lawyers) of the winning side. This will lead to a much more careful consideration of each party on avoiding ineffective prolongation of trials and unsuccessful appeal against court rulings at the next level;
- The right of appeal against court rulings at higher courts shall be drastically reduced for normal and minor cases;
- An effective monitoring and evaluation system for the performance of judges shall be developed and implemented, with a focus on early discovery of corruptive practice and unnecessary delay of proceedings. Administrative sanctions, removal from office and severe punishment shall be applied in accordance to the gravity of the wrongdoings;
- The access of poor people to courts/justice must be improved through the countrywide installation of a system of state funded legal aid.
(41) Strict implementation of existing laws
Many laws in thePhilippinesfollow international standards. However, their implementation often is not monitored and enforced. This creates a general atmosphere of disrespect of the law and the state by the citizens. It also creates legal insecurity with very negative consequences for business activities. And it provokes corruption and extortion activities by the law enforcing agencies. In some cases the influential, powerful or rich simply do not respect the laws and they get away with it. In many cases the non-enforcement of laws leads to severe violations of human dignity with weak or poor citizens being the most affected victims. This is obvious in the fields of environmental protection, of traffic laws, of labour conditions etc.
In order to improve law and order, legal security and the equality before the law, the Centrist Democratic Party will focus on the following measures:
- Assessments shall be made by the respective Departments of the National Administration in cooperation with major Universities on the degree of implementation of major legislation in the fields of administrative services, business and trade, labour conditions and contracts, health and education, mining, fishing and farming, housing, traffic and environmental protection;
- This assessments shall include an analysis of the reasons for non-implementation, i.e. unclear or non-existing secondary legislation and administrative procedural rules, weak or non-existing monitoring and enforcing structures, lack of awareness or even rejection of the substance of the respective legislation by the population, impossibility of implementation due to natural, financial or other reasons;
- In a next step, tailor made targeted action plans shall be drafted and implemented within three years in all these different fields with the intention to clean up unrealistic or outdated legislation, to set up clear and practicable necessary secondary legislation as well as enforcing and monitoring structures and to educate the population in accordance with this new regime.
(42) Enforcing the State Monopoly of Force
In a modern society with its numerous interdependences and vulnerabilities of its citizens, a precondition for decent life is the legitimate state monopoly of physical force. The State cannot allow any group, family or other actors to usurp this right of exercising physical power. The Centrist Democrat Party will make the fight against violence and physical force exercised against citizens a top priority of our political agenda. This includes:
- The complete and immediate dismantling of all private armies, paramilitary forces or “volunteer citizen forces” – whatever the justification for their build up has been;
- The review of the legal provisions for the private ownership of small arms with the intention to limit the reasons for their purchase and legal possession;
- The strict control of the implementation of registration and monitoring regulations for private people in possession of small arms; and
- The limitation of legal framework for the use of private guard services and the stricter observation of their performance and actions.
(43) Addressing the problems and conditions underlying the Communist Rebellion
The Communist Rebellion, continuing already for many decades in a high number of Philippine provinces, is a serious violation of the principle of State Monopoly of Force, a grave thread for the life of many farmers and members of the security forces and a huge obstacle for the socio-economic development of our country. Nowadays the strength of this rebellion seems to have diminished, as international support for the different groups has nearly dried out. However if we ask for the reasons for the continuation of this rebellion, it is clear that the shameful hardening of poverty and inhuman miserable living conditions of major parts of our population during the last decades is the driving force behind it. As long, as this situation will not be changed and perspectives of decent life, of equality of opportunities and of an end of the poverty conserving patronage structures cannot be developed, the Communist rebellion cannot be defeated by military forces.
We, the Centrist Democrats of the Philippines, suffer with the millions of desperate farmers and fishermen in the countryside and the urban poor in our big cities. And we understand, that some of them, driven by desperation, dream from an exit of their nightmares by following the recruiters – and often intimidation – of these communist groups. However, we appeal to all of you: Stop using violence! Here is another option. We will change the situation, will improve your lives through the termination of the patronage system and the building up of a fair society and productive economy through a new policy within the democratic system of our country, a policy grounded on the core value of human dignity, a policy consequent in overcoming poverty and injustice.
(44) Ensuring Good Governance, Peace and Development in Mindanao
The problems of violence, bad governance, poverty and miserable living conditions in major parts of Mindanao are a huge obstacle for the development of our whole country. They are the result of a complex bundle of causes and cannot be solved simply by a peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF. We will contribute, as a truly democratic party, to a sustainable solution of these problems through the strict orientation of all political decisions and actions in Mindanao and related to Mindanao at our core value of human dignity, which includes the principles of personal freedom and responsibility, justice and solidarity. We will improve the security situation by consequently dismantling all private armies and paramilitary groups and organizing a close cooperation between civil society, the religious communities, the local governments and the security forces. We will fight against the widespread misuse of power by oligarchs, warlords and irresponsible local government leaders. We will terminate the discrimination of the IP localities and Muslim-majority provinces by the central government. And we will work on strict transparency, integrity and accountability of all elected local and regional bodies in their dealings with the citizens and their use of public funds.
(45) Peace through a Bangsamoro Political Entity towards the vision of a Federal Republic of the Philippines
The request of the Muslim people and Bangsamoro leaders for a Bangsamoro political entity, in which they can organize and govern themselves in real autonomy – including fiscal autonomy -, continuing to be part of the Republic of the Philippines, is legitimate. As long, as this request is rejected by the Central Administration, the modest Bangsamoro leaders of the Philippine Muslims will not be able to control fanatic groups which boycott and undermine any peaceful cohabitation. They need real cultural, financial and political autonomy in order to feel respected and to develop loyalty and affirmation to the Philippines as their motherland. This solution is possible in a Federal Philippines, in which all the diverse ethnic groups of our Archipelago will be able to contribute to a strong nation, unified in diversity.
Chapter 3: The Philippines – a proud nation in a peaceful world
(46) Promoting our values in a globalizing world
The Philippines have been known in the World as a promoter of human rights and democracy. However our reputation and our capacity to work worldwide for these values, which are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and in our own Constitution, have been strongly affected by the poor records inside our own country. We will improve our international reputation and our weight in fighting for these values worldwide through the consequence and seriousness of our efforts to make human dignity the core value in all our internal politics. By signing all the international treaties which shall help to implement these values in a highly diverse, but interdependent world, we can strengthen the respective institutions and become an example in our own region, encouraging our neighbors to go in the same direction.
(47) Good governance practices at international capital markets
International Capital Markets today play a crucial role for the socio-economic developments in all countries. They have to be limited therefore with regard to the use of instruments and strategies which create major damage to the economies of developing and developed countries. We will make sure that the Philippines strongly support all international efforts introducing and monitoring good governance practices at the International Capital Markets as part of our value based foreign policy.
(48) Peace and mutual respect as guiding principles of our foreign policy
We believe that mutual respect between different states – regardless size, economic and military power of each one – and the peaceful resolution of contradicting interests and conflicts are beneficial for all countries and in the interest of all human beings who would suffer so much in armed conflicts. The Philippines shall give a good example for such policies, contributing especially to peace and development in the East- and Southeast-Asian Region. However there is no guarantee that other countries and their leaders will develop the same attitude. Therefore we have to make sure that we are able to defend our legitimate national interests also against aggressive neighbors. We will build up a strong and modern navy and air-force in order to become a relevant partner for our friends and allies in Asia and in the world, in case that we have to defend our country or our legitimate interests in the Philippine Sea against aggression from hostile neighbors.
(49) Sovereignty of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea
We will strongly defend the sovereignty of the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea in accordance with the UN Law of the Sea. We envision promote a peaceful resolution of the conflicts about the sovereignty over the Philippine Sea through multilateral negotiations based on international laws and agreements.
(50) Strengthening ASEAN and increasing our regional integration
The Association of Southeast-Asian Nations is of utmost importance for our country. The strengthening of this institutional cooperation of small and middle-sized countries in our region will provide us with much better opportunities than we would have alone to fight against any economic and political domination and bullying efforts by the big Asian powers. ASEAN is today no more only an economic cooperation and integration instrument. With the set up of a first Human Rights Body and the unanimous confirmation of a democratic development perspective ASEAN has made some first important steps in direction of political integration during the last years. We will strongly support the further development and integration process of ASEAN in all these different aspects. We will specifically support political development in its member states in direction of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance. And we will work for the development of close strategic partnerships of ASEAN with the EU, the United States, the other Western Democracies and the democratic countries in East-Asia.