Should we amend the Con­sti­tu­tion or not?

The Freeman - - OPINION -

Even be­fore we ad­dress whether to go for con-ass (con­stituent assem­bly) or con-con (con­sti­tu­tional con­ven­tion), or even peo­ples' ini­tia­tive, we need to set­tle first if we re­ally need to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion. Will any amend­ments be ben­e­fi­cial to Filipinos? If amend­ment is deemed a so­lu­tion to our na­tional prob­lems, is such a so­lu­tion the most prac­ti­ca­ble? Be­fore the sen­a­tors and the con­gress­men bicker whether the two houses of Congress should vote jointly or separately, this is to me a mere pro­ce­dural mat­ter. The jugu­lar is­sue is: should we or should we not?

The first is­sue is why do we have to amend our Con­sti­tu­tion? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well, cha-cha (char­ter change) pro­po­nents are con­vinced the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion is no longer at­tuned to the re­al­i­ties of the times. Tech­nol­ogy has changed the world since then, this is a to­tally dif­fer­ent world and dif­fer­ent times. And the Char­ter framed by such il­lus­tri­ous men and women as Blas Ople, Ce­cilia Munoz-Palma, Chris­tian Mon­sod, and Hi­lario Da­vide Jr., to the minds of the mil­len­ni­als, is no longer re­spon­sive to the dizzy­ing de­mands of too many rapid and un­pre­dictable changes.

The 1935 Con­sti­tu­tion was framed by a con-con dur­ing the time of Manuel L. Que­zon, Ser­gio Os­meña Sr., Jose P. Lau­rel, and Claro M. Recto, when the coun­try was not yet in­de­pen­dent. Thus the pre­am­ble de­clared that the ul­ti­mate dream of the Filipino peo­ple then was to es­tab­lish a gov­ern­ment that shall em­body our ideals, con­serve and de­velop the pat­ri­mony of the na­tion and se­cure for them­selves and their pos­ter­ity the bless­ings of in­de­pen­dence. It was 38 years old when President Mar­cos con­vened an­other con-con in 1973 dur­ing the days when the coun­try was un­der Mar­tial Law. The 1973 Char­ter was only 13 years old when President Cory, af­ter the EDSA Rev­o­lu­tion, con­vened the con-com.

To­day, I con­cur there is a need to change the Char­ter. I also be­lieve pos­i­tive changes, if prop­erly done, can yield ben­e­fits to the peo­ple. And yes, too, im­por­tant and use­ful con­sti­tu­tional changes can be done pro­vided the mem­bers of the con-ass or the con-con should prove to be true states­men, with the wel­fare of the peo­ple and the good of the coun­try over and above any self­ish agenda and nar­row par­ti­san in­ter­ests. For in­stance, I am for Fed­er­al­ism, but the su­per ma­jor­ity should not ma­nip­u­late the process in or­der to ram it down the throats of the Filipinos like what the rul­ing party wants. Sovereignty should con­tinue to re­side in the peo­ple. The peo­ple alone should make the fi­nal de­ci­sion.

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