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Former Chief Justice Puno to lead ‘Crowdsourcing a New Constitution’ movement

At other times former Chief Justice Reynato Puno would not have been thought of as a “crowdsourcing” leader. As a justice of the Supreme Court his time was occupied with reading lawyers’ briefs and weighing how these conform with or deviate from the law.

He spent more time wrestling with concepts, implications and decisions. As such he is what one might call cerebral – tuned in to what his mind says.

Despite his being more cerebral than practical he fits in with the role of symbol and advocate for “crowdsourcing a new Constitution” for other reasons. He is well thought of as incorruptible.

Our times call for a moral compass. That is his strength. His strength as a leader in these times is how to bring our people together in a movement that would change our way of life in governance and society.

It is with great joy that this column announces his acceptance to become the symbol and advocate of “crowdsourcing a new Constitution for a new Philippines.”  The new Constitution would encompass many issues including the disgust of people against the pork barrel scams and all forms of the misuse of public moneys at the officials’ discretion. But none is more important than that we return our society, — the state, its institutions and the people to a high moral plane.

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By “crowdsourcing a new Constitution” we return sovereignty to the people. That would mean a lot of patience in calibrating what the people say with what constitutional experts think is the right way to frame their desires for good governance. Not just on the issue of PDAF or DAP.

There have been a series of transgressions made by the Aquino government that have destroyed the people’s sovereignty, the most important being the Smartmatic PCOS elections of 2010 and 2013.

Indeed, I personally believe that having wrested sovereignty from the people, the misuse of taxes ie PDAF, DAP and any other public financial instruments for private use can be expected.

Government is no longer concerned with what it does with tax moneys because it has the weapon of a failproof method on how to win elections regardless of its incompetence or the graft it commits.

In the rash of events that exposed what CJ Puno calls “the worst evil in government” we may have missed an important detail. We do not have a lawful government because officials assumed office through preprogrammed machines. What we had in 2010 and 2013 were failed elections but we go merrily along with the myth of an elected government as sanctioned by the Constitution.

Therefore it would be folly for citizens to think that they can expect justice or fairness from a government that has wrested sovereignty from them by stealth and dishonesty.

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The only way for the country to move away from the brink of chaos is to overhaul government by changing the Constitution.

This change must come from the people. That was the reason why Iceland resorted to crowdsourcing a new Constitution. It did the following – return sovereignty to the people and give them ownership of that new Constitution. It was done through social media in which many educated Filipinos here and abroad, have become savvy.

It is not the same as a people’s initiative as provided for by the 1987 Constitution which was designed to thwart any violence in a future time if people should want “change” once again. A people’s initiative then was thought of as a way to make sure people do not mass in the streets. It was feared that such massing in the streets could turn violent.

A people’s initiative is by its nature directed against government or more accurately, misgovernment. We cannot rely on the same institutions governed by abuse, plunder and graft to make people’s initiatives work – not especially at this time. We cannot put the people’s initiative in the hands of a government that has violated their sovereignty.

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Concerned citizens should start thinking how to bring about a new Constitution and the referendum that should follow. 

A 25-person committee from various sectors with constitution making skills will have to be organized to cull all the postings from the crowdsourcing website and interpret these into provisions of a constitution.

The crowdsourced Constitution that private citizens of Iceland put together was simple. It was made up of several statements of principles.

I do not wish to pre-empt the crowdsourcing but I believe that almost all the problems we have encountered in governance today in the Philippines can be encompassed in three basic reforms that have already been discussed, debated and drafted by the 2005 Constitutional Commission. The website will encourage debate and essentially open issues to discussion.

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The present illegal government cannot be part of the Crowdsourcing a Constitution Movement. Therefore a transition council with revolutionary powers will have to be organized. It is a formidable task but what is the alternative?

In a previous column I wrote on a posting from the FB wall of  Dr. Emmnuel “Noli” Tiu Santos who is chairman and president of ISIS (Institute of Strategic and International Studies).

“The creation of a transition council is urgent to save the Philippines,” he said.

The transition council is the logical companion to the making of a crowdsourced new Constitution.

In his Strategic Plan for Revolutionary Government he outlines the steps to be taken: proclaim a revolutionary government, revoke the 1987 Constitution and promulgate the transition freedom Constitution for the provisional government.

“Once in place the provisional government under the transition freedom Constitution will then abolish Congress and pork barrel in any guise or form.”

Those involved in the pork barrel scam and other similar forms of corruption should be arrested and their wealth from plunder confiscated whether they are elective or appointive officials, staff or employees or private individuals.

His formula for confiscation is as follows: net worth of plundered or unexplained wealth minus net worth declared in the income tax return the year before assumption of public office equals net plundered or unexplained wealth.

He recommends that we adopt “substantial evidence” as sufficient proof to convict any person, whether government official and employee and private individual, for violation of the Anti-Graft Law, Unexplained Wealth Law, Anti-Plunder of Wealth Law, Code of Ethics for Public Officials, and other related laws.

Any abuse of power or discretion for any act or omission through whim, caprice, intent to extort, expectation of graft or bribe money, or personal hostility in any transaction with the government should be criminalized.

 

 

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