Up until now, I didn’t have a strong stand on whether the Constitution of the Philippines should be changed or not. That’s just me being consistent with my focus on issues and ideas to do with the fundamental nature of our character as a people than on the politically-“inspired” chatter of the mainstream. I recall the late Teddy Benigno putting it quite well: “I have chosen the culture of the Filipino as my battleground.” But then the other thing about me that remains consistent as well is the source of my writing inspiration: annoyance; an epiphany inspired by the seminal call-to-arms of esteemed boss of AntiPinoy.com, BongV: “Let your annoyance be your mojo“. And if there is one thing that is exceedingly annoying, it is the way influential people propagate moronic thinking as a means to substantiate the positions they take on vital issues. This is something that Ellen Todesillas of Jolog Central consistently does. Her latest piece where she weighs in like a sack of horse manure on the issue of Charter Change is one of those perfect cases-in-point.
Read Tordesillas’s article and you will find absolutely nothing about the ideas that underpin the proposed changes on the Constitution and everything about the people and events behind the initiative..
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That’s not very surprising when one recalls the insightful words said to have been said by the venerable Eleanor Roosevelt:
Small minds discuss people;
Mediocre minds discuss events;
Brilliant minds discuss ideas.
You need not get past the title of Tordesillas’s entire article “Beware of Cha-Cha as Arroyo’s Trojan horse” to get the small point she makes with her big virtual mouth. Upon being “alerted” by a well-placed “friend” that “[former President Gloria] Arroyo and her allies” in Congress are “ready with the charter-change operation and they are just waiting for the right time to start it”, Tordesillas mounts that perverse Pinoy-style “investigative” journalism on which the National “Debate” feeds upon. Her hypothesis can be summed up in the key events she noted and the people involved that constitute the “substance” of her article:
(1) Early July of 2010, Arroyo and her son Camarines Sur. Rep. Dato Arroyo filed a set of bills calling for charter change via a Constitutional Convention (con-con).
Tordesillas’s dubious conclusion: That these moves were intended to pave the way for the installation of Arroyo as prime minister.
(2) Monday this week, Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar announces plans to file a bill spelling out the framework for the election of the con-con delegates.
Tordesillas notes that Evardone is a “reliable ally of Arroyo” but at the same time is now a member of the Liberal Party and “has been supportive of Aquinoâ€™s legislative initiatives”.
(3) Evardone reportedly has the support of a number of members of Congress in the pushing of this bill.
Tordesillas’s reaction: “Alarming”
Pressed by Tordesillas to explain himself, Evardone provided a sensible explanation of his position, not too different from much of the cases made for Charter Change by my insightful colleagues in AntiPinoy.com — Orion’s in his call for a shift to the parliamentary system, and BongV’s clear points around the need for constitional reform. Tordesillas herself quoted Evardone’s words:
He [Evardone] said he is not primarily for a shift to parliamentary form of government but neither is he averse to it. He said even if we retain the presidential system, we can take a look at the system in other countries (United States) where a vote for the President is also a vote for the vice-president or in Europe where if the candidate who got the highest votes did not get a majority vote, there would be a run-off election.
Evardone said he remembers that during the presidential campaign, Aquino said he would create a group that would study the possibility of changing the Consitution. “This is the best time to do charter-change because if he delays and do it towards the end of his six-year term, he would be suspected to doing it to extend his stay in Malacanang,” he said adding that he can use his popularity now to push such controversial topic.
None of this of course moves Tordesillas, who evidently possesses a mind imprisoned by the small square that is the Philippine National “Debate”, a discourse that has been famously described as one where “Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated“. The Jolog Queen’s conclusion remains quite straightforward:
The objective, of course, is to change the system of government from the current presidential to parliamentary and install Gloria Arroyo as prime minister.
… and Evardone is …
[…] using Aquinoâ€™s popularity to push for Arroyoâ€™s agenda […]
All of which epically fail the So What? test.
The irony in all this is how a self-described populist nut like Tordesillas fancies herself as some sort of champion of the “people’s will” and yet sees Filipinos as utterly unworthy of being given a full view of all the options at their disposal to participate in any initiative to reform the Constitution the least of which involves engaging their representatives in Congress intelligently and, at best, actually fully engaging themselves in the discussion and debate. At the very least, this participation should start with at least a clear understanding of what parts of the current Constitution are, in fact, hobbling our lethargic march to prosperity. Ben Kritz expressed this point quite succinctly in his simple challenge:
The question is not, “Should the Constitution be amended?” but rather, “How should the Constitution be amended?”
A lot of morons who have their noses buried deep in the dung pile that is the National “Debate” are quick to come up with glib answers to the earlier but come away with no more than head-scratching (at best) and partisan taglines (at worst) when faced with the latter. And that is why I now have an opinion about Charter Change. It’s because I find annoying anyone who consistently undermines opportunities for Filipinos to step up and think for themselves.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.