The debate around Charter Change should be about future opportunities and not about past fears

The trouble with the “debate” over this most recent initiative to change the Philippine Constitution is that most of the more popular arguments being given air time have to do with obsolete 1980s-era thinking rather than on a future outlook for the Filipino nation. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the current Constitution enacted in 1987 following the 1986 “people power revolution” encapsulates this thinking in a recent statement he made while addressing a Senate hearing on Charter Change…

Monsod said the Constitution was created primarily to ensure that the horrors of the past, especially the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, would never happen again.

But the arguments for Charter Change seem to be primarily focused on economic opportunity for the Philippines’ hinterlands. For decades, politics and issues supposedly of national consequence were driven mainly by what was being discussed in the Philippine capital, now regarded somewhat derisively as “Imperial Manila”. Those discussions, as it turned out, did not necessarily reflect the sentiments and priorities of the broader population of Filipinos — specially those living in the farthest frontiers of the country, particularly in the oft-neglected southernmost island of Mindanao. Indeed, the astounding victory of current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 elections is seen by many as being partly driven by long-festering disillusionment with how many major decisions are made from Manila and from Manilenos’ perspectives primarily.

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Federalism is seen to be the way forward — a system that could provide the means to dismantle the imperialist hold Manila enjoys over national politics and revert power to chart destinies and futures to leaders who are local to and more relevant to ordinary Filipinos across the archipelago. Indeed, federalism could also be the more encompassing national response to the unreasonable demands of Islamic separatists in Mindanao, many of whom had resorted to terrorism and banditry to air their grievances and further their causes. Acceding to a demand for autonomy should be made in the context of similarly valid claims on the table (but not as violently pushed) by other cultural and political groups within the Philippines. At the moment, negotiations with Islamic separatists are mainly within the context of the threat of continued war and violence which is wrong in principle at so many levels.

Critics of the case for federalism have cited its potential for divisiveness, dynasty politics and warlordism, and “uneven development among states” (perhaps as a result of the two earlier risks). But, really, that is the whole point of decentralised power that federalism will enable. Power made more local will entail more local accountability. Local states will now be responsible for their own futures and fortunes and will be left to compete with and work with other states to bring about good outcomes for as many Filipinos as possible. The outcomes (whether spelling success or failure) will merely highlight which state, and which cultural groups within the federal republic, have the character to succeed. In short, a federal republic will provide an environment where it becomes evident who the men and the mere boys are within the Philippine nation.

We see now that a change in the Constitution is no longer framed by the old pathological fear that the old Yellowtard guard had used to prop up their political brand over the last several decades since 1986. The real debate should be around what is good for the future prospects of the Filipino people. We should not let a scarred knee from a fall while learning how to ride a bicycle keep us from continuing to learn to ride a bicycle. Filipinos, as a people, should learn to be more prospective and less retrospective in that regard.

8 Replies to “The debate around Charter Change should be about future opportunities and not about past fears”

  1. it will determine, or more accurately, who the real thieves are…not separate the ‘MEN from the ‘BOYS’, you really need to realize that the entire country is controlled by the families of the Senators and Congressmen…and thats it !!!
    elections are a mockery and corruption is beyond rampant….a sinking ship really…..and its always the RATS that jump ship first !

  2. the country keeps doing the same things, round and round…and of course, NOTHING CHANGES….same old ‘CHA-CHA’ BULLSHIT but NOTHING HAPPENS….and I have only been watching closely since 2008, but it sure is as recognizable as it is predictable!
    NO, its come to the undeniable point where the current system in place since 1965 (some say 1987, but NO, its 1965)is just a fraud against the people perpetrated by the CONGRESS,Executive Branch and aided by the Judiciary… all has to be burned down, perps burned at the stake.

  3. As some others says, the Filipino people should change it first before this so called “Charter Change” but how will gonna do that if we, the Filipino people will never change ourselves in spite that the change of the form of government in our country from a unitary to a federal system that will soon to happen in the near future so that it’ll never fail again & again?! In order to do that, we need a GREAT education & a tougher laws that will implement it so that a REAL change will finally came to fruition in our home land like the passing the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, passing of an Emergency Power for Traffic Management in Metro Manila & other urban cities in the Philippines, legalize death penalty, a Singaporean style hefty fines for those who litter or smoke on public places or violating traffic laws or other scandalous violations like singing karaoke at midnight, spreading “chismis” to your neighbors, playing majong & jueteng, etc., etc. And then we could draft a new constitution in our country to shift from a unitary to a federal form of government & we could move forward for a new & better Philippines & left behind the old past of ourselves & our country. And if this will not work, then I will leave this country & go to a countries that are much better than the “old & dysfunctional” Philippines like Singapore or Switzerland.


  4. The U.S. is a federal republic, so is Germany. The Philippines 1986 constitution was tailored by the cahoots of Cory Aquino and her Feudal Oligarchs buddies. We have to scrap this useless constitution, because , we are now in different era.

    The 1986 Constitution did not work well. We have too much corruption, and corrupt public officials. I rarely saw a public official, who is corrupt, who was locked up in jail.

    Mar Roxas stole the Typhoon Yolanda Fund. He is still there, enjoying his loot. Former COMELEC’s Andres Bautista, received corrupt money, to rig the 1986 Vice Presidential and Senatorial election. He is still there to enjoy his loot. Porky Drilon and Pnoy Aquino, together with Abad, stole from the DAP and PDAF. They are happily enjoying their loots. Trillanes had no projects on his DAP and PDAF. He is now enjoying his loot.

    It is time to change and scap the Aquino Constitution.

  5. We don’t give a rat’s ass what Solita “Mareng Winnie” Garduno Collas-Monsod favorite Yellowtard 1987 Constitution is. And for the record, Federalism have a “vagina”, so we’re well aware of the fact federalism can look hot without looking slutty.

  6. What is your opinion about this charter-change?

    I like the idea of changing the government system, perhaps because I am influenced by how the government is run here in New Zealand. However, by looking at even further (i.e. reading the PDP-Laban’s proposal), I saw that is tailoured not for the people of the Philippines but only their pockets. The PDP-Laban’s proposal is too bureaucratic and it is just a waste of government’s resources. However, I like the Centrist Democracy Political Institute’s (CDPI) proposal, which is basically to adopt a Westminster government system that is almost similar to New Zealand’s government. Their proposals are to reduce the amount of Member of Parliament’s (MPs) from 400 to 120 or 99; implement a unilateral government (i.e. with the House of Representatives only); and the President as the ‘Head of State’ and the Prime Minister as the ‘Head of Government’. Additionally, this government is better since politicians will be voted based on the policies and the track records of their political parties rather than the popularity of the candidates.

    1. What are the duties/tasks (powers, if you wil) of the president and what of the PM (prime minister)? Is it possible for a president to dismiss/fire a prime minister?

      My suggestion for the Philippines would be, is to get a complete overhaul of the PH constitution and many (if not all) laws, rules and regulations.
      The fact that a government decides that a newspaper is not allowed to get foreign investors is very outdated (just one example). The fact that adultery is a crime is also something from the Middle & stone Ages.

      No matter how one looks at the Philippines, in every angle and corner, it is still a poor 3rd world country with poor 3rd world country mindset and behavior in all walks of life.

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