Sunday, May 10, 2009

Institutional Reform

The Ateneo School of Government with support from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung has launched the Institutional Reform (IR) Paper Series, which showcases 8 handy, balanced and well-researched papers intended to provide decision-makers, opinion-makers, and conscientious citizens with resource materials on issues concerning the performance of constitutional institutions and the impact of key constitutional concepts such as: dynamic economic productivity, local autonomy, extraordinary executive powers, bicameralism, modes of changing the Constitution, and the party-list system.

The IR Paper Series presents perspectives on re-examining the institutional arrangements of the Philippine State, and tackles topics from a spectrum of issues that periodically emerge in constitutional discussions. The IR Papers can be downloaded through the School website under the heading Resources and then Research Papers & Publications.

The initial offering of the IR Paper Series consists of 8 papers that can be categorized according to the following themes: legislative issues, economic issues, executive powers, and religious-political proposal.

The IR Papers on legislative issues: “Is there a Party in the House?” by Dr. Edna E.A. Co describes and analyzes the party-list conundrum and argues for the development of party-list groups into full-fledged political parties that are capable of competing in mainstream politics; “Are Two Better than One?” by Dr. Nereus ‘Neric’ Acosta argues that Bicameralism offers greater assurance of legislative oversight of executive decisions and actions in a Soft State with a tendency towards a heavy-handed presidency; “Initiating Change? People’s Initiative as a Mode of Changing the 1987 Constitution” by Joy Aceron and Francis Isaac explores the pros and cons of a people’s initiative by revisiting the attempts of PIRMA and Sigaw ng Bayan and examining the barriers to making operational and practicable this mode of Charter Change.

The IR Papers on economic issues: “The Impact of Restrictions to Ownership in Public Utilities” by Dr. Alvin P. Ang argues that the available data do not show conclusively that the constitutional restriction is a major reason for limited foreign investment in the public utilities sector; “Digital Convergence: An Argument for Constitutional Reform” by Novel Bangsal describes the insufficient flexibility of the institutional environment to respond to and maximize the benefits of the multi-media convergence process worldwide; “Globalized Services: Towards Liberalization of Professional and Educational Services in the Philippines” by Jaime Singson contends that the liberalization of professional and educational services will enhance the economic competitiveness of the country in the medium to long terms.

The IR Paper on executive powers, “Extraordinary Measures: Constitutional Powers in Times of Crisis” by Dr. Antonio G.M. La Viña, Anna Su, and Edgar Bonto, reviews the recourse to emergency powers by four presidencies and examines their intended and unintended consequences.

The IR Paper on a religious-political proposal, “Islam and the Shariâ in a Proposed Bangsamoro Federal Islamic State” by Anna Liza Su, shows that Islamic tradition can permit a Bangsamoro Federal Islamic State within a secular democratic system.

Legislators and policy-makers are urged to engage the academe more closely in studying any particular institutional reform question or idea. Many political and policy questions and proposals in the past and present have been discussed by public officials and media commentators on the basis of mere opinions and impressions; the Philippine citizenry and the State will benefit much more from research-based and data-driven institutional development and policy-making.