Is the Philippines Ready for Government 2.0?
To say that AP commentor Lilly was frustrated when she wrote
The learned and capable men tried. They just are too outnumbered to make a dent in the Philippines’ downward spiral to self-inflicted doom.
Look at those who voted for Gordon and Gibo. Compare those numbers with those who voted for Noynoy and Erap.
Look at how actual efforts to alleviate the pisspoor quality of life were received. The stupid poor instead prefers to bet on Lotto and fight tooth and nail to get into Wowowee rather than learning a profitable skill.
The learned and capable men tried. But this is a nation overrun by idiots, ruled by families who feed on the stupidity of the idiots.
— is an understatement.
I agree. This is is a game the learned and capable men will be hard-pressed to win. And if I may add, that’s because they are using 19th century tools in the face of 21st century challenges.
As you can see, the “learned men” are still playing under rules skewed in favor of the oligarchs. Money is important in a campaign – but should simply be a means to an end – not the end in itself. Or if it were the end in itself, it should be for the purpose of expanding public services or increasing investments in strategic infrastructure.
Under the current Aquino regime that’s better said than done. The odds are stacked against you, us. -The Kamag-anak Mapping Project initiated by benign0 provides you an idea of what Filipinos are up against.
[iframe: src=”http://mind42.com/pub/mindmap?mid=e37e71bf-b038-45b7-9f8f-efa973f0fb5f” width=”100%” height=”640″ frameborder=”1″ scrolling=”YES”]
Gordon and Villar had no chance – not when you are up against an entrenched oligarchy – their rules, their game. That’s the bad news.
The good news is – the Philippine constitution allows for a system of initiatives and referendum – and has an enabling law on Initiatives and Referendums – RA 6735. The bad news is – Filipinos can’t get along and are hesitant to take this route.
Guess what people, don’t expect the oligarchs to give it up either – you are not going to win.. uh uh.. ain’t happening. Not now, not tomorrow – – if you played under the same rules. It will still be LP vs NP – plus a sprinkling of chimeras and the coterie of party-lists vying to be called “honorable” in an institution that is anything.. but!
The good news is there is a nascent emergence of active citizenship emanating from the Pinoy blogosphere. The bad news is Pinoys do not trust themselves enough to pull this one off.
The thing is – whether Filipinos like it or not – other nations will embark on this paradigm very soon. And all of this is due to – yes, you guessed it right – The Internet.
Thinking Outside the Oligarch-Skewed Trapo-Centric Congress – Government 2.0
Arianna Huffington recently asked Can Technology Forge a New Relationship Between Government and the Public?” – she was clearly referring to Tim O’ Reilly – the techie who coined Web 2.0 when she wrote:
the need to create a new relationship between We the People and those we elect to represent us — and the crucial role technology can play in it. For O’Reilly, Government 2.0 isn’t about every office in D.C. having its own website and posting reams of data. It’s about, as he put it in a blog post-cum-manifesto, “a new compact between government and the public, in which government puts in place mechanisms for services that are delivered not by government, but by private citizens.”
It’s about government as a facilitator, laying the foundation for innovation in self-governance. It’s “government as a platform.” As O’Reilly notes:
If there’s one thing we learn from the technology industry, it’s that every big winner has been a platform company: someone whose success has enabled others, who’ve built on their work and multiplied its impact. Microsoft put “a PC on every desk and in every home,” the Internet connected those PCs, Google enabled a generation of ad-supported startups, Apple turned the phone market upside down by letting developers loose to invent applications no phone company would ever have thought of. In each case, the platform provider raised the bar, and created opportunities for others to exploit.
Using government as a platform also means changing the way we think about legislating. “Government 2.0 requires a new approach to the design of programs,” writes O’Reilly, “not as finished products, perfected in a congressional bill, executive order, or procurement specification, but as ongoing experiments.”
Not surprisingly, many of those experiments are going on at the local level. One leader who has enthusiastically embraced the new model is Newark Mayor Cory Booker. “We are one part of a larger democracy that is learning how to master media to drive social change,” says Booker, who was on the same panel with O’Reilly and me at the Personal Democracy Forum. “Social media is a forum where people can come together to connect, talk, mobilize, and create a larger sense of community.”
To advance the notion of applying this model to government, O’Reilly has created the Gov 2.0 Expo (the latest concluded two weeks ago) and the Gov 2.0 Summit (coming in September).
Going forward, it’s clear that we are going to have to forge a new relationship with our government. “Citizens are connected like never before and have the skill sets and passion to solve problems affecting them locally as well as nationally,” writes O’Reilly. “Citizens are empowered to spark the innovation that will result in an improved approach to governance.”
We can’t expect a government hobbled by centuries-old tools to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why Government 2.0 needs to be taken out of beta and put into practice across the nation.
AP has already sounded the call for Government 2.0 ever since it started to advocate people’s initiative as a modality for expediting legislation. It will not serve as a substitute – rather it will supplement or close the gaps that are currently not being addressed by the traditional legislative framework.
Government 2.0 – Upgrading Classic Direct Democracy
Initiatives are not exactly new and have been around for quite sometime – the earliest known being Athenian democracy. Allow me to cite Wikipedia
Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy, is a form of democracy and a theory of civics in which sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. Depending on the particular system, this assembly might pass executive motions, make laws, elect or dismiss officials, and conduct trials. Direct democracy stands in contrast to representative democracy, where sovereignty is exercised by a subset of the people, usually on the basis of election. Deliberative democracy incorporates elements of both direct democracy and representative democracy.
Many countries that are representative democracies allow for three forms of political action that provide limited direct democracy: initiative, referendum (plebiscite), and recall. Referenda can include the ability to hold a binding referendum on whether a given law should be rejected. This effectively grants the populace which holds suffrage a veto on government legislation. Initiatives, usually put forward by the populace, force the consideration of laws or amendments (usually by a subsequent referendum), without the consent of the elected officials, or even in opposition to the will of said officials. Recalls give people the right to remove elected officials from office before the end of their term, although this is very rare in modern democracies.
Also relevant is the history of Roman republic beginning circa 449 BC (Cary, 1967). The ancient Roman Republic’s “citizen lawmaking”—citizen formulation and passage of law, as well as citizen veto of legislature-madelaw—began about 449 BC and lasted the approximately 400 years to the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Many historians mark the end of the Republic on the passage of a law named the Lex Titia, 27 November 43 BC (Cary, 1967).
Modern-era citizen lawmaking began in the towns of Switzerland in the 13th century. In 1847, the Swiss added the “statute referendum” to their national constitution. They soon discovered that merely having the power to veto Parliament’s laws was not enough. In 1891, they added the “constitutional amendment initiative”. The Swiss political battles since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative (Kobach, 1993). In the past 120 years, more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendum. The populace has been conservative, approving only about 10% of these initiatives; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by government. (See Direct democracy in Switzerland below.) Another example is the United States, where, despite being a federal republic where no direct democracy exists at the federal level, almost half the states (and many localities) provide for citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives (also called “ballot measures” or “ballot questions”) and the vast majority of the states have either initiatives and/or referendums. (See Direct democracy in the United States below.)
Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in e-democracy. More concisely, the concept of open source governance applies principles of the free software movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please. This development strains the traditional concept of democracy, because it does not give equal representation to each person. Some implementations may even be considered democratically-inspired meritocracies, where contributors to the code of laws are given preference based on their ranking by other contributors.
The Issue of Cost
It can be argued that cost is an issue. I argue back that WE ARE ALREADY PAYING A COST – AND NOT GETTING ANY SERVICE FROM THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS – OR THE ENTIRE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT FOR THAT MATTER.
If we need to get to the brass tacks – I would like to invite any of our readers who are good with the numbers to compute the costs below:
As-Is State: (compute costs)
* Congressman Salary
* Congressional Staff
* Congressional Office (Manila)
* Congressional Office (Local)
* Office Supplies/Transpo/RATA
* Pork Barrel
Multiply that with 238 Congressman who can’t even ****ing show up to pass the FOIA. Now compute the cost for three years – AND STILL NO LEGISLATION. NO OUTPUT.
* Cost of secretariat (manila/local)
* Cost of mobilization for signature drive
* Cost of printing referendum ballots
* Use PCOS machines for counting referendum results)
* NO PORK BARREL
I will wager that the cost of running one initiative is lesser than the cost of one congressman who does not even show up for work.
let’s say we spent conservatively – P2M per congressman – wala pang pork barrel yan – that’s PhP476M – and what have they shown thus far? Nothing.
Let’s say I’ll have a couple of Jet hernandezes or a Paul Farols run an operation – each with P3M even (they will shepherd the passing of the initiative – they will have no pork barrel at all) – I would bet they will have the legislation, signed, sealed, and delivered – with budget surplus to share.
Comparison of Processes – Congress-centric vs Initiative-centric
Consider the typical Pinoy citizen
1 – Elects congressman without thinking
2 – Congressman gets into the office, goes through the motions of legislation – but have no laws passed.
3 – Pinoy complains.
4 – Pinoy waits for another cycle of elections
5 – In the process, no laws are passed, but we keep on paying for a service which is not being rendered
Obviously, he is stuck in an endless loop with the current attitude.
Now, consider this:
1 – Pinoy Elects congressman without thinking
2 – Congressman gets into the office, goes through the motions of legislation – but have no laws passed.
3 – Pinoy initiates legislation (based on RA 6735)
4 – Law is passed
The only hindrance left here really is attitude.
Technologically – it is feasible. Morga brings out a very good point
Here’s an idea: Why not keep the PCOS machines and program them for regular People’s Initiatives? Will we see the day someday when technology will render congressmen obsolete? What will the Representatives represent when the people can represent themselves directly through the PCOS machines? To save on the cost of printing ballots, number codes can be used to determine choices. So a “yes” vote would be “1?, a “no” vote would be “2?, etc. I believe this is what Manoling Morato meant when he said the lotto machines could have been used for automated voting. Imagine that. We can finally get urgent legislation like the FOI law, charter change, population management, etc done at the push of a few buttons.
Just thinking out loud. Have not thought through the details. But I think this idea has potential. Of course, it also means it will be easier for the majority to make idiotic choices that will cause us all to suffer. Freedom is a dangerous weapon.
The price of liberty is vigilance. Given that we are without alternatives under the current game – passing legislation then entails nurturing and cultivating a base of active citizen legislators who can get out the vote, collect the signatures, all the way through ratification. That is a challenging but fulfilling task – an Everest, a Mt. Banahaw, or a Mt. Apo that climbers will love to climb.
And should someone come up with an insane piece of proposal via initiative – one can use the same machinery that crafts legislation to work for the rejection of asinine proposals. The “base” of active citizen legislators can be a formidable politcal bloc once fully nurtured and organized.
Financially, it is viable. Politically it is empowering – and dumps the lawmakers in the wayside if they don’t step up to the plate.
The Need to Retrofit The ex-Presidential Candidates Machinery
The presidential campaigns still have their machinery of volunteers intact. At the moment Gordon’s Bagumbayan has degraded into a social club . It’s volunteers are like flotsam looking for meaning – after the elections are over. Just looking at the current activities of its volunteers – I got sick in the stomach after reading a call to Bagumbayan/Gibo volunteers to “remind ourselves how great we are as a nation” or birthday ni Gibo– really???? Two weeks after the election – the “volunteers” have been re-assimilated into the tontowist PoV – backsliding ika nga – what a waste of machinery.
Converting that machinery into an organized bloc of politically aware operators who can roll out the signatures and create law without having to go through Congress is a direct exercise of political power by the constituents. Through people’s initiative – the constituents can directly cause change – without having to go through congress.
This is an issue that the volunteers of Gibo, Gordon, and Perlas can work together on.Their nationwide machinery is still intact. This is a matter of retrofitting the machinery for the shift in strategy. Who needs to be elected to make laws if citizens make use of RA 6735 to the hilt and pass grassroots-centric legislation via initiatives/referendum. The legislative themes can be as diverse and as meaningful.
* Infrastructure projects/programs?
* Health Services?
* Pork Barrel reduction?
* Whistleblower Protection and Rewards Program?
* Solid Waste Management?
* Government Re-engineering?
Of course, there will be debates – that comes with the territory – and that’s a good thing. It forces the issue – if lawmakers will not do the job – the people will, and the regulations can wind up tighter than Congressmen want. Heck, it would be sweet payback to have a people’s referendum that will remove the pork barrel from the Congressmen – and redirect the funds towards more productive uses.
My mentality is this – S-C-R-E-W Congress – let the citizenry craft the law if congress is inutile – heck maybe generate the bandwagon to shift from presidential to parliamentary.
In campaigns of thias sort – it boils down to the numbers – there is no need for an overwhelming mandate – use the law RA 6735 and make it work FOR the people.
The FOIA as Test Case
For example, If Congress does not want to pass the FOIA, and the people want it – if they want it so bad – I say, the people ought to shut, grab themselves by the bootstrap – and pass the FOIA as an initiative.
Remember this – 8 laws in 3 years – and people expect Aquino to pass the FOIA? Are you kidding? Aquino didn’t even reveal how his pork barrel was spent – why will he support a law that will disclose his pork barrel spending. The calculus does not add up.
Bottom line – if people expect an Aquino congress to pass the FOIA – I doubt it very much. ABS-CBN, the Inquirer, RMN will make the FOIA story die a natural death.
Where does that leave the people – wait for another election of congressman? We’ve tried that before – we’ve had the same results. If we want change – screw elections, people’s initiative is the way to go.
Shepherding the Citizen-centric Legislative Process
What you need are experienced marketing and sales corporate dudes who understand the dynamics of generating leads and closing a sale. Folks who can operate on a lean budget, self-starters, assigned to “sales territories”, and can generate a “buy-in”.
Our paradigm has always been to look at the legislator as the only person who will.. legislate. And that, the lawmaker bring remiss in his job should be removed. But there are no mechanisms for doing that except through elections.
When election happens, the cycle repeats itself. But, the cycle can be broken – through people’s initiative.
With the advent of the Internet, legislation powered by crowd-sourcing is no longer just a possibility – it already is a reality. It can be ours – provided the requirements of the enabling law on people’s initiative are met.
The idea for Government 2.0 is ready – the Filipinos and the Philippines, are not ready for Government 2.0.
Are you ready for Government 2.0?