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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Senator Pimentel Reports to the Senate on His Trip to Mexico
Senator Pimentel Reports to the Senate on His Trip to Mexico PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Tuesday, 19 February 2008 01:41

Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., at no expense to the Philippine Senate, attended a three-day (plus 3 days more of travel time) international conference in Mexico City on the subject of the Presidential Form of Government. The conference was organized by Institute for Democracy  and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.

 

REPORT TO THE SENATE

SUBJECT:      INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN MEXICO CITY

FROM:           SEN. AQUILINO PIMENTEL JR.

 
DATE:            FEBRUARY 18, 2008

 

 

At no expense to the Senate, I attended a three-day (plus 3 days more of travel time) international conference in Mexico City on the subject of the Presidential Form of Government.

The conference was organized by Institute for Democracy  and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.

The panel of experts included Dr. Hector Fix-Fierro, Dr. Andrew Elllis, Spanish Ambassador to Mexico Carmelo Angulo, Dr. Pedro Salazar (Mexico), Dr. Jean Claude Colliard (France), Dr. Abdou Khadre Lo (Senegal), Dr. Carlos Huneeus (Chile), Dr. Etsi Yudhini (Indonesia), Dr. David Usupashvili (Georgia), Dr. Virgilio Afonso da Silva (Brazil), Dr. Antonio Ma. Hernandez (Argentina), Dr. Jose Maria Serna (Mexico), Dr. Daniel Sovatto (Argentina), Senators Febio Beltrones, Santiago Creel and Carlos Navarrete (Mexico), Dr. Jorge Carpizo (Mexico) and Dr. Diego Valades (Mexico).

While the conference was angled to help the ongoing debate in Mexico on the reform of government institutions in the country, I was asked to do a critique of the presidential form of government.

I did as asked but with focus on our experience in the Philippines. Briefly, I told the participants that we have always had a presidential form of government in the country. And that it was not working that well.

Concentration of Power

I said that there was too much concentration of power in the hands of the President and that the tendency to abuse it has been too great to resist by various holders of the presidential office.

I cited instances in past of presidential abuse (martial law) and present history (police dispersals of even peaceful demonstrations to express people’s concerns).

Moreover, I said the concentration of the power to plan, fund and implement projects of national import in Manila, the seat of the national government has stymied national development.

Weak institutions

Much of the difficulties we have with the presidential form of government, I said, stems from weak political institutions that produce weak political parties, weak legislatures, and a weakened judicial system.

Hence, I said that a group of legislators in our country is planning to amend or revise our constitution so that we may have a presidential form with a federal system of government.

Discussion followed my presentation.

No silver bullet

To sum up my reply to the questions, I said that unlike my favourite comic character when I was a young boy, the Lone Ranger, who had a silver bullet to end the reign of bad men, there is no magic prescription in the form of government to solve all the problems of any nation. Each country must try to adapt its own form of government to suit the needs of the people. The bottom line, I said, was that our peoples’ basic rights and liberties, especially, human rights have to be respected whatever the form of government we adopt.

I attach a copy of my speech to the conference as Annex A of this report.

I pray that it be considered read into the records of this Chamber.

ADDENDA:

1. Mexico also has a spate of extrajudicial killings, particularly of journalists.

The latest of the killings took place while I was there. Bonifacio Cruz Santiago, publisher of the weekly, El Real, and son, Alfonso Cruz, were gunned down by unknown assailants.

It was reported that in the past seven years, 36 journalists had been killed in Mexico. In the last 30 years, 50 journalists have been shot in the country.

2. The Mexican constitution requires congressional approval of presidential travels abroad.

While I was there, President Felipe Calderon was allowed by the Congress to travel to the US.

In a famous rebuff, President Vicente Fox was refused permission to travel to Australia and Vietnam in 2006.

3. The Mexican Senate was considering amending their laws to allow more competition in its broadcast industry which had been dominated by a small number of companies (Televiza and TV Azteca, particularly).

4.  The Mexican restaurants prize their menus in $.

I almost fainted when I was billed $129 for a simple breakfast (the first I had in Mexico).

          Before the end of the day, I recovered my equanimity when a Filipino diplomat told me that the $ sign was to be read in Mexican pesos. The US dollar was supposed to have two slashes. 

5. On the personal level, may I put on record that on the way home, I broke the long trip from Mexico City by a three day stop-over in LA to meet with Filipino residents there. I also wanted to rest my back after an excoriating 25-hour travel (airport delays included) to Mexico City from Manila via Tokyo. And consult a doctor friend.

While I was away, Engineer Jun Lozada surfaced to testify before the Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the ZTE deal. I apologize to our colleagues and to the people for my absence in the week of Lozada’s revelations. I had left before knowing that the Committee would have such an important witness. # # #



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2008 01:47
 

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