Friday, April 28, 2006

Cha-Cha de Gloria

How exactly will Gloria employ this Cha-cha to perpetuate herself in power? I do not know because the facts and appearance of the charter changes are foggy and ambiguous to anyone. All I know is that Gloria is steering this train and I do not trust she will carry us anywhere I want to be given how she has acted while in power thus far. Let me summarize what is so frightening about Gloria's
charter change scheme.

1. First the method. It is still uncertain whether the charter changes will be made through supposed "people's initiative" or through a House-muscled constituent assembly without the Senate's agreement, specifically the three quarters vote of both chambers needed for charter change to consists almost only of Lower House votes. These two alternatives still seem to be thriving. Both these methods are contentious and not unquestionably well-known as legitimate means for making the kind of changes being recommended. Many even say that these two alternatives are unconstitutional. In any case, any of these two means will eventually be determined by the Supreme Court at some time. However it turns out, it will entail that Gloria is taking really dubious means to force through constitutional changes. One asks: why would we impose upon our people the possibility of deep-seated and long-running political tension about the manner of changing our constitution? Why would she twist the arms of our already weakened democratic institutions using doubtful legal devices to modify our nearly 20-year old constitution? However advantageous such changes might be, its benefit would certainly be diminished by the conflict and hostility that is created by changing it via forcing through legal mechanisms. Ironically, we opposed cha-cha under Ramos who had much better approval ratings than Gloria and we opposed cha-cha under Erap Estrada who certainly was legitimately elected president. And now we are going to have charter change, whether we like it or not under Gloria with the highest dissatisfaction ratings in all our post-EDSA presidents and a president who has not been clearly elected to her office.

2. Second the risky implications if any of these two charter change routes were to proceed (i.e., either people's initiative or House-engineered constituent assembly). If we do get to a period where our people will be thinking a particular changed constitution to ratify, it would have meant several things: (a) the Supreme Court decided that one of these two paths is legal and constitutional, which I would take to mean that the SC had legitimated Gloria's forcing through tactics. (b) the current House of Representatives, with exactly the same overwhelming majority that refused to impeach Gloria despite the facts and the same mostly easily bought members with a small heroic band of resisters, will dictate the re-writing of our constitution. This latter implication comes from the way either the PI or Con-Ass works: Congress becomes the forum for re-writing the Constitution, and it will not be Congress as it is now (with Senate and
House of equal power) but Congress dominated by the Kampi-Lakas congressmen.

3. Third, the even more dire consequences were we to ratify a constitution permitting the shift to some yet undefined form of parliamentary government with Gloria in power and the current Gloria-bought congressmen making the rules and executing them as any parliament would. We shall have given them a blank check to define our form of government, mark out whatever limits, checks and balances they feel like, and alter whatever else they feel like in our existing constitution. It is under this likely situation that a fear of perpetuating Gloria comes. This is really akin to the situation of our country in 1972 when Marcos declared martial law when we still did not have a new constitution (because the constitutional convention in existence then had not yet finished its work). Marcos' second and last 4-year term should have ended in 1973 because he was fraudulently elected in 1969. He engineered to have a new constitution that allowed him to continue by buying and intimidating the ongoing constitutional convention and then had that amended constitution ratified by barangay assemblies. This is the constitution that Marcos used to rule for the rest of his dictatorship. In my view, Gloria is manipulating events to get the same kind of constitution Marcos got in 1973 by changing the present constitution.

In my view, our only real reliable hope to protect our democracy from the evil designs of Gloria is the plebiscite to ratify whatever constitution is made which is an unavoidable requirement for any change in the constitution. Whatever might be the contents of the constitutional change that will be offered for ratification, we should really just have one question in mind: do I want to give Gloria even more power to rule this country longer? If you want to give her the license to exercise even more power which she never truly earned from an election then you ratify her constitutional change; if not then you reject it. I do not believe that the intrinsic merits of proposed constitutional change are even relevant to the consideration because no real debate, education or explanation had ever been offered to our people about the nature of the specific changes proposed and the implications to their concerns about Gloria's legitimacy to continue governing as president. And beside, I have never seen a constitution no matter how great execute itself without the right kind of leaders giving it life. If Gloria cannot live and act by the existing constitution, how can we expect her to be limited or constrained by the power to make her own constitution?

MT Pagbabago