Monday, March 02, 2015

Create laws that are easy to enforce

Today I reviewed our 1987 Constitution. It is a good constitution made with love and justice. But it has a big problem: it's too long. Maybe our Constitution was an extreme reaction to the 1973 Constitution, the Marcos dictatorship, and martial law. But our Constitution is still too long and we can hardly enforce many provisions.

1. We haven't passed a law against political dynasties. We have seen so many bills filed against political dysnasties, but we haven't passed a law yet. Maybe it's a conflict of interest for many legislators because many of them come from political dynasties. The best way to pass a law against political dynasties is through a people's initiative.

2. We haven't passed a comprehensive law against monopolies. Sure, we have provisions against anti-competitive practices in the Constitution and the Intellectual Property Code, but these aren't enough to stand against the big monopolies, oligopolies, and cartels in the Philippines.

Retail and real estate companies merge and take advantage of the high cost of land and low cost of labor. See SM, Ayala, Robinsons, Megaworld, etc. Energy and telecommunications companies make a killing in profits but give little added value. See Shell, Petron, Caltex, PLDT, Smart, Globe, etc. It's difficult to pass an anti-competition law as an initiative, but the National Economic and Development Authority can draft the law and Congress can support this bill into law.

3. We can't enforce basic economic human rights. We protect labor, peasants, urban poor, women and children, environment, indigenous peoples, etc. But we can't put food in the tables of many Filipinos because thousands still go hungry. Not everyone has a house that can withstand the floods and storms every year.

We can't educate each Filipino child because the roads are not paved, there are no bridges, the schools are far away, and many children work instead of studying. Mothers are dying while giving birth, and children are contracting preventable diseases, such as mumps, measles, polio, etc.

The solutions are many: Feed hungry indigent children at school before class. Vaccinate babies and toddlers against preventable diseases. Pave roads and build bridges and homes with the labor of the people who live there, just like Gawad Kalinga. Check up on the health of mothers and children. Build more classrooms and bring teachers to the students.

4. Sinasabi ng ating Saligang Batas na ang wikang Filipino ang pambansang wika, pero palagi pa rin nating ginagamit ang wikang Ingles sa halip na wikang Filipino. Isalin ang mga batas at mga alituntunin sa wikang Filipino at sa wikang katutubo sa lugar.

5. Think about the cost and the enforcement when making laws. Don't just think of the purpose and means. Who will enforce the law? Would they have conflicts of interest? Do they have the knowledge and skills to enforce the law? How can we check if the law is enforced? Maybe we can have an automatic review of national laws every five years.

For example, the Urban Development and Housing Act is a good law but is seldom enforced. I believe it's because local governments have a conflict of interest. They want squatters or informal settlers to remain for the votes, but they do not want to do anything that would cost the government. They also do not prohibit public utilities from connecting electricity and water to them. Sayang naman ang kita.

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