Democratic Deficit in the Philippines; The Case of Joseph Estrada Presidential Tenure

1st paper written in English. finally🙂

Chapter I

Introduction

1.1 Background

Democratic deficit is one of serious problem that challenging democracy. Despite of formal democracy which showed by democratic electoral process, democratic process in that country could be classified into democratic deficit. Democratic deficits equal with low quality of democracy. It is tell about how democracy could not accommodate what people need. Democratic deficit itself occurs when ostensibly democratic organizations or institutions (particularly government) fall short of fulfilling the principles of democracy in their practices or operation where representative and linked parliamentary integrity becomes widely discussed.[1] This problem has made enormous public disenchantment toward democracy.

Philippine is one of the oldest democratic countries in Asia. This county has experienced democracy for hundred years. Since attained its independence from United States of America in 1946, Philippine began to conduct their government autonomously. They adopt American Democratic system of government. Nowadays, we can see many problems are challenging democratic process in the Philippine. As Arugay noted, cited from O’Donnell, main challenges that the Philippines should immediately address is how to combat and control the problems of corruption and other form of particularistic behavior.[2] Hutchroft and Rocamora argue that Philippine Democracy is in a crisis. Its manifested on inability of democratic institutions to deliver the public goods.[3] In fact, Philippine is a country which own rich human and natural resources. Ironically, in 21st century, Philippine ranks among the first in two lists: the list of the countries perceived to be most corrupt and the list of countries most hit by disasters.[4]

This paper will focus on Joseph Estrada Presidency as a proof of democratic deficit in the Philippines. Instead of fulfilling the popular expectations toward his presidency, Estrada disenchanted the people by his poor presidential performance. Ironically, he practiced a corrupt government which in the end forced the people to overthrow him from his presidency.

1.2 Research 

Regarding to democratic deficit which exist in the Philippine, especially in Joseph Estrada era, this paper try to explain the cause of democratic deficit in the Philippine. Thus, my research question is

            “Why democratic deficit exist in Philippine?”

1.3 Conceptual Framework

            State Building

Regarding to Fukuyama, state-building is the creation of new government institutions and the strengthening of existing ones. Generally, discourse about state-building will link to division about Strong and Weak State. Weak is a state that does not have capacities to penetrate society, regulate social relationships, extract resources, and appropriate or use resources in determined ways.[5] Whilst, strong state is a state that have capacities to penetrate society, regulate social relationships, extract resources, and appropriate or use resources in determined ways.

Case of democratic deficit in the Philippines showed us how weak government institution. They fail to fulfill the basic need of the people. Furthermore, many government officials abuse their power and break the law. They do corruption, manipulating state resources for their private interests, and so forth.

Function of Political Party

According to Almond, Political party is group or organization that seeks to place candidates in office under their label.[6] It has several functions, which are representation, convert and aggregation; integration (participation, socialization, and mobilization); persuasion, recruitment, control the government, and policy formulation.[7] Due to broad range of function, political party needs to institutionalize itself toward a modern and professional organization. Political Party supposed to run their organization all the time long to fix that their function running well.

1.4 Preeliminary Assumption

I contend that democratic deficit in the Philippines cause by its weak political parties. Democratic deficit in the Philippines showed by the inability of the state to penetrate society, regulate social relationships, extract resources, and appropriate or use resources in determined ways. Arguably, that weak state criteria that occur in Philippines due to failure of political parties to run their function. They prioritize to win the next election instead of fulfill the expectations and the need of the people. Weakness of political parties in the Philippines has maintained the patronage politics that undermines political process in this country.

 

Chapter II

Analysis

2.1 Philippines Politics after People Power

People power revolution which was success to overthrow the Ferdinand Marcos authoritarian regime has mark the new era of Philippines politics. After Marcos 21 year presidential tenure, Philippines return to democratic political system. Corazon Aquino which succeeded Marcos did enormous effort to transform legal bases toward a more democratic one. Some analysts argue that post-people power Philippines show continuity and change in their political life. They enjoy a stable but low quality democracy. This chapter aims to explain the condition of democracy in the post-people power Philippines.

During her presidential tenure,Corazon Aquino made remarkable change in Philippine politics. She was very aware that her main tasks are made new anti-dictatorship system and deliver social justice to Philippines.[8] She was success generate 1987 constitution to replace the previous one. This newly constitution is an important legal bases toward democratic process in the Philippine. 1987 constitution regulate that president merely possess one term presidency for six years. Besides, this constitution also generate institutional innovations was sectoral representation in local government councils and party-list elections for 20 percent members of the lower house (the remaining 80 percent of which were to remain under the single-member district plurality system of pre-martial law democracy).[9] Furthermore, Aquino promoted a Local Government Code (LGC) 1991. LGC was a decentralization initiative which inviting more participative democratic process in the local level. To some extent, LGC has changed the pattern of patronage politics in the Philippine.[10]

Nevertheless, Philippine politics remain show a continuity of pre-Marcos era. In order to secure her presidency and preserve the political stability, Corazon Aquino built an elite unity by tolerate and preserve the patronage politics. Actually, Aquino has initiated some reforms to fulfill the expectations of her constituent. For example, to raise the quality of Philippines democracy she closed the tainted Batasang (Election Commission formed by Marcos).[11] Furthermore, to deliver social justice, she tried to promote land reform program.[12] Consequently, several elite who felt their vested interest disturbed angry and stood against Aquino. Thus, in order to restore elite cohesion and perpetuate democracy, Aquino scaled back her reform.

Fidel v. Ramos succeeded Aquino to hold the presidential power for 1992-1998. He elected as president via first regular election since enforcement of 1987 constitution. After he came to power, he focused on Philippines economic improvement. He was success to transform the Philippine economic image in international fore by take several substantial reforms. However, he not merely success on economic realm, but also success keep political stability in the Philippines. His image as retired air force marshal gave him strong believe from the people. Besides, he has strong elite back up which Aquino has not.

When he came to power, Ramos inherited laggard economic status compare to another country even in Southeast Asia. Ramos and his chief theoretician, retired army general Jose Almonte, blamed oligarchic groups for the laggard economic status and combined measures of economic liberalization, privatization, and infrastructure development with concerted attacks on cartel and monopolies.[13] Ramos also could to get international trust about Philippines economic prospect. He success get 20 Billions US$ foreign investment to Philippines. His administration always proud to the compatibility of development and democracy but he still rely on old-style pork-barrel politics to promote his new style economics.[14]

Apart from progress on democratic and economic realm that has recorded by both presidents, what does really mean with the return of electoral politics is entrenchment of elite-led democracy. This style of democracy actually showed the inclusion of popular masses from democratic process. As Abinales and Amoroso noted, “the post-1986 restoration of electoral democracy had dampened the use of violence to achieve political ends, helping reformist candidates backed by church groups, NGOs, and POs oust entrenched political clans in some provinces.”[15]In the other word, the electoral politics has reactivated and reinforced patronage in Philippines politics. Consequently, this style of democracy represent the low quality of democracy which could not accommodate what the need of oppressed people since the core value of democracy is juggle between the need of the have and have not.

2.2 Estrada Presidential Tenure : Popular Disenchantment

Joseph Estrada recorded a significant victory in 1998 election. The former vice president succeeded his partner, Fidel v. Ramos with excessive difference than his competitor in the election. He win approximately 40% vote in the election. Many scholars argue that his victory much more influence by his popularity. Besides, his populist promise during the campaign has met with the popular demand, especially the oppressed people. However, his performance in office was extremely poor. Instead of proof his campaign promise, he inviting the public disenchantment which in the end were overthrow him from presidency.

Joseph “Erap” Estrada, a Manila born man, is a popular figure which combine movie star image and long political experience in the Philippines. His career as a movie star has made broad range of people know him. From upper class to the lower, from old people to the young know him for his hundred of film. Beside an actor, Estrada also has a long experience in Philippine politics. He recorded several political positions such as San Juan mayor for 16 years. Then, he also served as senator in national level for one term. His highest political position was the vice president of Fidel v. Ramos.

Some analysts contend that Estrada victory in 1998 was due to his populist candidacy. As a young actor, Estrada almost always played the popular role of defender of the oppressed.[16] This gave him strong lower class support. Abinales and Amoroso noted that television assist him on keep this image. “In the 1990s, television networks, which had achieved national coverage, aired his old movies and introduced him to a younger generation.”[17] Estrada was fully aware that this image would elevate his electoral outcome. Thus, he used “Erap para sa Mahihirap” as his campaign  slogans which means Erap for the poor.

Philippine elections in 1998 accidentally held at the same time with economic hardship in the Southeast Asia region.  As we know, Asian regional crisis which began in 1997 has broadly impacted the economy of almost all country in the region. Philippine is one of the countries who suffered badly from this crisis beside Indonesia.The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had weakened the public faith in the paradigm of liberalization and deregulation.[18] Therefore, this specific condition form a popular demand that government should be improve the economy. People hope the new president would give them job, provide new housing, get visas of the foreign work, or remove injustice done them.[19] That demand match with Estrada campaign issue.

Unfortunately, Estrada presidential performance was extremely poor. His administration undermines the democratic process by showed almost all of weak state criterion. Philippines under the administration of Estrada failed to exert its will and showed strong influence of Estrada patronage in policy formulation. A year in the office, Estrada almost did nothing to improve Philippines economic. Although the Philippine economy was to be among the least damaged by the 1997 Asian financial contagion, by the end of 1999 it was small rate growing.[20] His cabinet management was as bad as his economic performance. He was never met his cabinet regularly. Ironically, he kept his movie star habit to gambling, and carousing at night with his friends. Those friends had a powerful influence toward Estrada policy making. Analyst gave them name “midnight cabinet” due to Estrada habit preferring to deal with his department secretaries individually — usually by phone, and late at night after he met with his midnight cabinet.[21]  By the end his presidency, he faced combination of substantial capital flight during the year, the collapse of confidence in the stock market, a sharp decline in investments, and a drop in export growth, that rising social stress, and sharp political confrontations.[22]

Finally, after a disclosure from Luis Singson – Governors of Illocos Sur Province—about the revealed that he had personally delivered 8 million US$ in illegal gambling money to the president over a twenty-onemonth period, plus an additional $2.5 million as the president’s cut of the tobacco excise taxes allotted to his province, occurred broad mass movement which ask Estrada resignation.[23] By the end of 2000, House of Representative passed the Estrada impeachment articles due to his plunder, graft, and corruption. Finally, after a protracted political process which could not overthrow Estrada, popular movement which called “People Power 2” was successfully overthrow him.

2.3 Core Problems in the Philippines Democracy : Weak Political Party

Political party seems become the perpetuate problem that undermine democratic process in the Philippines. Instead of run their function well, political parties in the Philippines not more than a elite vehicle to gain access toward political power. Once in power, they are practicing rent-seeking activity. Thus, they try to win the vote at all cost, including support candidacy of popular person as vote getter.

Philippines political party showed its failure to run their function. Generally, political party has to run a political recruitment, educating the member, articulate and aggregate interest, run a political socialization, and control the government. Instead of run their function, political parties in the Philippines seems deactivate when election season is out. When the election season come, they reactivate the party and run political campaign which highly depend on patronage, money, and even violence politics.

According to Filipino sociologist Randolph David, Philippines political parties are “nothing more than the tools used by the elites in a personalistic system of political contest.”[24] Political party essentially formed to accommodate a group of people which have a similar ideology to manage the state. In the Philippines political system, there is no ideological cleavage one to another.[25] Thus, the politicians almost have no difference stance on their program. In consequence, the people differentiate one to another party by seeing their candidate. Under this circumstance, popular candidate such as movie stars have an advantage to win the vote. Absent of ideological cleavage also give an impetus toward phenomenon shift party membership to ruling party. This phenomenon called turncoatism.

Estrada case showed us how the weakness of political party gave an impetus to the collapse of government. Victory of Estrada nothing more than the winning of his image as movie stars rather than the hard work that the political parties work. His image elevated his election results albeit he never built and maintain his party. His party, PMP, frankly speaking just a vehicle of Estrada to win the election so gave him access toward the state resources. Due to the weakness of political party, they never gave insight toward Estrada presidency. His party also never controlled his power. He maintained his power via patronages politics. He get the bribery and happiness from his friends. Thus, his friends which incorporated to midnight cabinet have an enormous influence in Philippines policy formulation. Above all, the party, PMP itself fail to run its function : political recruitment to recruit the best and capable candidate for the presidency. So, it does make sense when Estrada did many abuse of power during his presidential tenure.

Chapter III

Conclusion

We can conclude that democratic deficit which exists in the Philippines caused by the weakness of its political parties.Political parties in the Philippines fail to run their function. Instead of maintain the leadership ideologically, the President maintain the leadership via patronage politics and by populist means. In the Estrada case, we could see the weakness of the state to improve its economic performance. We also see, how the extra-governmental group have an enormous and decisive impact on policy formulation. The failure of PMP to run its function, especially to recruit the best people to run the presidency can be conclude as the impetus toward the democratic deficit in Estrada era.

Bibliography

Abinales, P.N.  and Amoroso, D.J. State and Society in the Philippines, ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS INC, New York, 2005.

Almond G.A. et.al, Comparative Politics Today ninth edition, Pearson Longman, New York, 2008.

Amal, I. Teori-teori mutakhir partai politik, Tiara Wacana, Yogyakarta, 1988.

Arugay, A.A.  ‘The Accountability Deficit in the Philippines : …’,Philippine Political Science Journal, Vol. 26 No. 49, 2005.

Carlos, C.R.  & Lalata D. M. (eds), Democratic Deficit in the Philippine : What is to be done? ,Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Makati, 2010.

Case,W. Politics in Southeast Asia; Democracy or Less, Routledge, New York, 2002.

Hehir, A. and Robinson, N.  State Building; Theory and Practice, Routdlege, New York, 2007,

Hutchcroft,  P. D. &  Rocamora, J. ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003.

Levinson,S. How the United States Constitution Contributes to the Democratic Deficit in America, 55 Drake L. Rev, 2007.

Magno, A.R.  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001.

[1] S. Levinson, How the United States Constitution Contributes to the Democratic Deficit in America, 55 Drake L. Rev. 859, 860, 2007.

[2] A.A. Arugay, ‘The Accountability Deficit in the Philippines : …’,Philippine Political Science Journal, Vol. 26 No. 49, 2005, P. 64.

[3] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 259.

[4] C.R. Carlos & D. M. Lalata (eds), Democratic Deficit in the Philippine : What is to be done? ,Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Makati, 2010, P. 14.

[5] A. Hehir and N. Robinson, State Building; Theory and Practice, Routdlege, New York, 2007, P.3.

[6] G.A. Almond et.al, Comparative Politics Today ninth edition, Pearson Longman, New York, 2008, P. 81.

[7]I. Amal, Teori-teori mutakhir partai politik, Tiara Wacana, Yogyakarta, 1988, P. 5.

[8] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 277.

[9] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 278.

[10] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 278.

[11] W. Case, Politics in Southeast Asia; Democracy or Less, Routledge, New York, 2002, P. 227.

[12] W. Case, Politics in Southeast Asia; Democracy or Less, Routledge, New York, 2002, P. 227.

[13] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 279.

[14] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 280.

[15] P.N. Abinales and D.J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines, ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS INC, New York, 2005, P. 267.

[16] P.N. Abinales and D.J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines, ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS INC, New York, 2005, P. 270.

[17] P.N. Abinales and D.J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines, ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS INC, New York, 2005, P. 270.

[18] A.R. Magno,  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001, P. 252.

[19] A.R. Magno,  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001, P. 254.

[20] A.R. Magno,  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001, P. 254.

[21] A.R. Magno,  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001, P. 253.

[22] A.R. Magno,  Southeast Asian Affairs 2001, ISEAS, Singapore, 2001, P. 252.

[23] P.N. Abinales and D.J. Amoroso, State and Society in the Philippines, ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD PUBLISHERS INC, New York, 2005, P. 277.

[24] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 262.

[25] P. D. Hutchcroft &  J. Rocamora, ‘Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines’, Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 3. 2003, P. 269

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s