Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Philippine version of "town hall meetings" (performance audit by the masses) is needed.

One thing I admire about American Democracy is the regular practice of holding "town hall meetings" which are attended by congressmen and senators during their recess.

It is a good tool of democratic consultation.

It disciplines the local and national legislators to listen to the voice of the people.

After all, the sovereign people are the constitutional source of all governmental authority and the constitutional master and employer of all public officials and employees.

In the Philippines, all Barangay are required by the 1991 Local Government Code to hold annual Barangay Assemblies.

The same Code requires Mayors and Governors to hold annual assemblies of their respective Local Development Councils. The People's Organizations and the Non-Governmental Organizations in their areas of responsibility are supposed to be invited to participate therein.

It appears that the Barangays all over the country properly perform their duty in this regard.

As to the Mayors and Governors, it seems that the annual assemblies of their respective Local Development Councils are limited to the partisan members of their political parties.

This is not democratic.

With respect to the congressmen or district representatives of the House of Representatives and the Members of the Philippine Senate, there is no law that mandates them to hold regular "town hall meetings" with their constituents for purposes of democratic, non-partisan and mass-based consultations on any and all issues that concern the masses.

(Being elected on a national basis, the constituencies of the Senators are the Filipinos in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Hence, the town hall meetings of the Senators must be held on a regional basis).

Internal consultations and caucuses within a political party led by a local or national legislator are not an effective substitute for the more democratic, non-partisan and mass-based town hall meetings.

In-house party caucuses are limited to the partisan elites of a particular political party.

Neither are the Congressional committee hearings an effective substitute.

Congressional hearings are limited to a select group of resource persons, most of whom are top government officials, business magnates, and prominent academicians and professionals. They do not necessarily represent the views of the masses.

It is time for the legislators to justify their huge salaries and fringe benefits. They must serve the masses, first of all, by listening to them and consulting their native wisdom on any and all issues that concern their daily living and their future.

A special law commanding the mandatory conduct of district and regional town hall meetings by local and national legislators during their recess periods (which are plentiful) must soonest be adopted.

Let us give flesh to the true meaning of Democracy, Republicanism and Constitutionalism in our country.

The sovereign Filipino people have the constitutional right and duty to require their public servants to undergo regular "performance audit" by the masses.