Amending our 1987 Constitution, serious na gajud!

boholano-thumbWhen Davao Mayor Duterte was elected to be our next President, from June 30, 2016, some of those who voted for him were hopeful that he would lead the amendment of our 1987 Constitution to reform our bulok na sistemang politikal.

No other presidential candidate had promised to amend our very defective 1987 Constitution—not Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay, or Miriam Defensor Santiago!

Two failures to amend our 1987 Constitution: First failure by President Fidel V. Ramos, 1998

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President Fidel V. Ramos wanted to amend our 1987 Constitution towards the end of his term in 1998 so he could be elected to a second term.

Like some Filipinos then, he believed that it was better to give a good president like him a second term than enable “a bad leader” like Joseph Estrada to become his successor to the presidency in 1998.

But most of the people at that time believed that it was too early to amend the Constitution that was only 11 years old.

So Joseph Estrada was elected president in to succeed Fidel V. Ramos in 1998. And, indeed, Estrada proved to be a bad president early on. He was incompetent, lazy, dishonest, and very corrupt.

Speaker Manuel Villar succeeded in convincing the House of Representatives to impeach President Estrada.

So according to the Constitution, the Senate had to act as the judge in the impeachment trial of Estrada. But most of the senators supported the President and made it very difficult to try and find him guilty.

So when the prosecutors found it frustrating to proceed in presenting the evidence against President Estrada, the prosecutors gave up and walked out of the impeachment trial.

Chief Justice Hilario Davide, as presiding officer in the impeachment, had to adjourn the Senate as the impeachment body. And within the next several hours the people gathered along EDSA to exert “people power” to overthrow the Estrada presidency.

President Estrada resisted “the people power revolt” but in a few days more and more Cabinet members resigned and the head of the military and the national police also resigned.

Then Chief Justice Hilario Davide declared that President Joseph Estrada had tendered “a constructive resignation” from the presidency; and he administered the oath of office for Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to succeed as the new President of the Philippines.

Second failure to amend our Constitution: by President Glorial Macapagal Arroyo, in 2005 and following.

President Macapagal-Arroyo formed the 2005 Constitutional Commission. She appointed some 50 members. I (Jose V. Abueva) was chosen to head the body. In five months the ConCom was able to draft provisions to change our Highly Centralized Unitary System to a future Federal Republic and our Presidential Government to a Parliamentary Government.

We members of the 2005 ConCom were able to conduct regional consultations to explain our proposed amendments and to gain support for them nationwide.

President Macapagal Arroyo submitted our 2005 ConCom proposals to the Congress but neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives would support our proposals.

The President junked our 2005 ConCom proposals for a shift from a highly centralized Unitary System to a Federal System. But she proceeded to push for our  proposed shift from a Presidential Government to a Parliamentary Government.

But she had become so unpopular and discredited as President for more than six  years and continuing. She could not push for an amendment that would enable her to become a Prime Minister after serving as President for nearly 10 years!

President Rodrigo Duterte is a very serious about amending our 1987 Constitution. In his presidential campaign he talked about changing our highly centralized Unitary System to a Federal System. We hear that he is also open to a shift from our failed Presidential Government to a hopeful Parliamentary Government.

Last Wednesday, June 1, the incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, met with ten of us, former members of the 2005 Constitutional Commission, to start serious consultations toward amending the 1987 Constitution: possibly in the first two years of the Duterte presidency and administration.   And we are hopeful that most Filipinos will join the movement. (By Jose “Pepe” Abueva)



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