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Random Thoughts | 2020 battleground on constitutional reform

“Jose Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform said the amendments (or revision) to the (1987) Constitution should be done in 2020 as the expected dynamics will change as presidential hopefuls start their preparations for the next national election 2022”, (Emmanuel Tupas, “256 local governments back constitutional reforms,” The Philippine Star, December 11, 2019).

-oOo-

DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya fully agreed with Mr.Casiple’s keen observation above. Usec. Malaya stated: “That is really the period if we have significant movements.” This writer, is also in agreement that 2020 is very crucial anent Constitutional Reform in our country. To reform or not to reform is now the question.

DILG recently launched their “CORE” or Constitutional Reform information drive nationwide. Per Malaya, 7 governors, 11 vice governors and no less than 105 mayors, several vice mayors and other local officials already back constitutional reforms. In addition, Task Force CORE “has obtained 22,469 signatures from various citizens since they re-launched their roadshow campaign last November, 2019. Thy plan to submit the signatures of statement of support to Congress this year (2020).

Usec. Malaya and company must be informed that the Mindanao Baptist Bishops group already gathered about one million signatures already supporting Charter Change (Cha-Cha) way back in the late 2017 and submitted this to DILG Usec. Martin Diño, head of Barangay Affairs. What happened to these signed documents? Does the left hand not know what the right hand is doing in DILG? Chair of Committee on Constitutional Amendment Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro has his own Cha-Cha plan. Per news report on December 11, 2019, said Committee has approved the following reforms: 1) Major economic provisions, 2) some political amendments, 3) Creation of nine regions (Autonomous or Federal?) in the country namely: National Capital Region, North Luzon, South Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Here comes the big obstacle to Constitutional Reform via Constituent Assembly. The House’s resolution provides that the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled, with a vote of three fourth of all its members, voting separately, and pursuant to Article XVII of the Constitution.” As sure as the sun rises in the east the Senate will object to this. The Senate will insist that the voting will be counted separately, three fourth of all the Senate members and three fourth votes of all House of Representatives members. Take note that the Senate Committee on Constitution and Amendments Chaired by Senator Kiko Pangilinan who belongs to the Liberal Party strongly opposed amending Cory’s 1987 Constitution. Senate President Tito Sotto III recently said that Charter Change is not the Senate’s priority. Clearly, relying on Congress to revise the present Constitution at this time is an exercise in futility” because they cannot only get the needed three fourth votes in the Senate, Senator Pangilinan controlling this crucial Committee very well know how to prostrate any move for Cha-Cha during the Duterte administration.

DJ Yap reported that “Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday chided the House of Committee on Constitutional amendment for approving without the Senate’s knowledge, a still unnumbered “Resolution of Both Houses” amending the 1987 Constitution to extend the term of lawmakers and relax its economic provisions.” Hence, “tapos na ang boxing sa Cha-Cha sa Senado.”

To further support my thesis, below are the name of our current Senators who are anti-CORE or Cha-Cha: De Lima, Hontiveros, Drilon, Recto, Pangilinan, Lacson, Poe, Villanueva, Gatchalian, Sotto, and Gordon.
Perhaps even Lapid who will not win as Senator in a regionwide election is anti Cha-Cha, Senators Villar, Go and Pacquiao most probably are more interested in the 2022 elections now than dancing the Cha-Cha.

How on earth then can we get three-fourths votes in the Senate to pass a draft of a New Charter? No Way! The people’s move now is the only key to do the Cha-cha during President Duterte’s term. DILG CORE can play a major role in this drama of genuine change in our country. The ball now is the hands of President Duterte.

We are back to what I’ve been saying since 2017 that only President Duterte can undertake an honest-to-goodness Constitutional Reform and institute Federalism in our new Charter. Wake up! There is no other way for Cha-Cha during the term of President Duterte but thru a People Mandated CORE. The means that the Filipino people will exercise direct democracy for an honest-to-goodness Constitutional Reform.

Recently President Duterte stressed: “Yang mga panukalang Saligang Batas? (Proposals to an end the Constitution), ultimately the people will decide on that.” We fully agree Sir The people is indeed the key to core, “Pag talagang gusto may paraan.”

An honest-to goodness Constitutional Reform must be based on the ideals and aspirations of our people thru their Shared Vision and Mission so that our people will down and support CORE. The grave error of Malacañang Consultative Committee and Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform miserably missed this fundamental truth due to utter lack of consultations.

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