Pres. Aquino flirts with power, revives ‘Cha Cha’ politics

Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino has expressed an  interest in seeking a second term.

Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino has expressed an interest in seeking a second term.

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

There certainly are unique terms traceable to the land of our birth. Over time, ‘cha-cha’ emerged which certainly didn’t refer to that popular dance.

Owing to its having been related to the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos, the consensus then was: the Ramos presidency would be extended through the “cha-cha” changes. That didn’t happen.

Today, because President Aquino has expressed an interest in seeking a second term, the Constitution of the Philippines will inevitably face amendments.

There are other issues that are compelling, not just owing to the presidential term limit of six years without re-election, but there are other reforms that bear watching. The reforms focus on more fundamental changes: structure of government; issues of social justice; and more equitable distribution of power.

However pressing the concerns are, present talks seem to be directed solely at two issues: economic reforms that would allow foreign ownership of capital and extension of term limits of public officials.

The Philippine Constitution is 27 years old. There is a growing recognition that it is time to start considering amendments despite several dramatic developments at the global and regional fronts.

Such issues have never been addressed and should have undergone changes as they were beginning to be felt: threats over climate change; mounting population growth; urban migration; and out-migration to other countries; ethnic and resource conflict including the prospect of regional integration.

It was learned that the Filipino people’s ‘consciousness’ was hardly taken into consideration. Admittedly, according to those political analysts who reviewed events before 1987, the people’s voice could not be sought over the above-mentioned issues for lack of time and information needed to allow for guidelines that could not be availed of.

The lessons are on the wall as 2014 has shown events moving faster than ever before. The three branches of government have indicated the need of the hour. The voter’s say needs to be sought more than ever. Procrastination cannot and should not interfere should amendments to the Constitution be made.

Today’s voters should be given time to allow them to attain a level of political awareness.
They would be able to recognize what should be changed, and what should be retained in regard to any and all amendments to the Constitution.
Try as reformers wish to achieve, the probability is that self-serving politicos may divert voters. As has taken place in the past, those who had their own selfish interests proceeded to do what they wanted for themselves, and did away with existing provisions meant to protect the people’s basic rights.

Notable voices, all experts on the Philippine Constitution highlighted the nature of the amendments that should be looked into in the event that time for change would come.

These should be looked into: proliferation of dynasties; tightening of stranglehood of monopolies and oligopolies; continuing marginalization of the masses; overarching exercise of power of judicial review; need to relieve the High Court of its clogged dockets; raw use or misuse of political power of impeachment by Congress, and gridlock, an ever-present element in a presidential system.

The population is supposed to be represented by the women and men they elected to speak for them in the legislative department. There is no need for guesswork now.

The framework for revision must retain the focus on human rights; equality of individuals; tolerance; people empowerment, and a true balanced social order.

In the very near future, the event that is ASEAN integration is encouraging, and it may call for an ASEAN charter.

That charter, it is hoped, would mean that each member country’s fundamental law must embody shared universal values: human dignity; democratic participation; accountability; rule of law, and principles of international law.

When that time comes, it is hoped the Philippines will lead by example should the movement called “Cha-cha” provide that impetus direly needed in highlighting the country’s respect for its Constitution, whether amendments will prevail or not.

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