Sunday, August 17, 2014

How Pres. Noynoy Aquino can change the Constitution: Some lessons from history

The idea of changing the constitution to lift the term limits of the president among other things, such as foreign ownership of land, won't happen unless an epoch-changing event happens. From history, we see that we have three Constitutions that effectively governed our country and these constitutions are results of epoch-changing events.  So in order for Pres. Noynoy to change the constitution, he must make the conditions similar to those that gave rise to these three constitutions.  

A. 1935 Commonwealth Constitution

This constitution was created due to the requirements of the Tydings-McDuffie Act:
Section 1. The Philippine Legislature is hereby authorized to provide for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention, which shall meet in the hall of the house of representatives in the capital of the Philippine Islands, at such time as the Philippine Legislature may fix, but not later than October 1, 1934, to formulate and draft a constitution for the government of the Comonwealth of the Philippine Islands, subject to the conditions and qualificaitons prescribed in this Act, which shall exercise jurisdiction over all the territory ceded to the United States and Spain on the 10th day of December 1898, the boundaries of which are set forth in article III of said treaty, together with those islands embraced in the treaty between Spain and the United States concluded at Washington on the 7th day of November 1900.  The Philippine Legislature shall provide for the necessary expenses of such convention. 
Section 2.  (a) The constitution formulated and drafted shall be republican in form, shall contain a bill of rights, and shall, either as a part thereof or in an ordinance appended thereto, contain provisions to the effect that, pending the final and complete withdrawal of the sovereignty of the United States and the Philippine Islands--
The granting of independence by the United States is an epoch-changing event which merits a constitutional change.

President Noynoy Aquino cannot follow this route, because Philippines is a sovereign country--unless, may God forbid, China defeats Philippines in a war and takes over the government of the country.  If this happens, a new constitution will be drafted similar to the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution, with Philippines sharing its economic wealth to China.  The Philippines may then have to wait several decades before a law similar to Tydings-McDuffie Act can be passed in China to grant us an independence.

B. 1973 Constitution

This constitution was created after Pres. Marcos declared Martial Law.  There is a stipulation for a parliamentary form of government with a Prime Minister--a position which was later assumed by the President himself  (History of Philippine Constitutions).  Marcos already served for two terms (1965-1969) and (1969-1972), and before the second term was over, he declared Martial Law to take over the Philippine Government.

President Noynoy Aquino can follow this route, as he had followed Marcos's footsteps on the Disbursement Acceleration Program.  He has the popular support--at least he believes that whatever he wants is what his bosses--the Filipino people--wants.  After all, his parents are the icons of democracy.  And what he only wants is to uphold democracy.  Pres. Noynoy Aquino can start the ball rolling with the call for the Constitutional Convention, then use all his charms, as what he had done to push for the passage of the RH Law, to coerce the ConCon members to clip the powers of the Supreme Court and legalize the DAP.  He can even make Senate and Congress subservient to his will by controlling all the PDAF allocations, so that he can distribute them to his friends and use these to crush his enemies, as what happened to Chief Justice Renato Corona.

C.  1987 Constitution

This Constitution was created during the presidency of Corazon Aquino, after the successful 1986 EDSA revolution.  The aim of this Constitution is to supersede Martial Law spirit behind the 1973 Constitution.  As Cory herself said in her speech last September 21, 1997 at Luneta:
Twenty-five years ago, the President of the Philippines blew out the light of democracy and covered the nation in darkness. Congress was padlocked and the Supreme Court put under the gun. Journalists were picked up, newspapers were shut down. The public was blindfolded and gagged, and the country was robbed. Robbed for 14 years without let-up or hindrance, without limit or shame. Some of the best and brightest of our youth disappeared. Why? Because the President of the Philippines then wanted to change the Constitution so he could stay in power beyond the legal term. Fourteen years later, millions of Filipinos gathered in massive act of civil disobedience to send a single short message from this place: Tama na, sobra na…never mind the rest. One week later, His eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin called on those millions again to form a human shield around Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile, because they had joined our fight for democracy. The flame of freedom burned again. Today, there is a dark wind blowing across our country again…the wind of ambition, a gathering storm of tyranny. We are here to shield that flame so that the light of democracy will not go out in our country again.
Is Pres. Noynoy Aquino listening?  If he wants to follow the example of history, Pres. Noynoy Aquino can declare Martial Law to prevent a Binay presidency, so that people will rally in EDSA once again to oust the new dictator.  And the greatest irony would be this: the people would elect as President not Binay but Bongbong Marcos.

And history would repeat itself.
Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, Post-Colonial Trajectories (Politics in Asia)
Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, Post-Colonial Trajectories (Politics in Asia)
Social Engineering in the Philippines: The Aims, Execution, and Impact of American Colonial Policy, 1900-1913 (Contributions in Comparative Colonial Studies)
Social Engineering in the Philippines: The Aims, Execution, and Impact of American Colonial Policy, 1900-1913 (Contributions in Comparative Colonial Studies)
Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism
Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism
Greed & Betrayal: The Sequel to the 1986 EDSA Revolution
Ms. Cory Aquino Philippines John Goody Missi Moskowitz Betty Lane Faber 10 1986
Ms. Cory Aquino Philippines John Goody Missi Moskowitz Betty Lane Faber 10 1986