Constitutional reforms from 30 years back

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc -
Dr. Salvador Araneta possessed foresight. Anticipating as early as 1922 the formation of Commonwealth rule, he studied constitutional law in Harvard and thus came to the Constitutional Convention of 1934-35 with a complete draft. Again in running for the Con-Con of 1971-72, he proposed a Bayanikasan Constitution with 64 revisions to the old one. Among these: a federal system to be set up in 10 to 20 years. He foresaw even back then a need to explain to Filipinos an alternative to the Manila-centric government and a reasonable time to put it in place.

Bayanikasan is a contraction of lakas ng bayan, a strong nation built to protect the rights of each citizen. It could well denote too bayani (hero) and kalikasan (natural resources), aspirations as well of Filipinos. In introducing Araneta’s draft charter, Dr. Alejandro Roces likened him to Pilosopong Tasio who did not write for his generation. Roces noted: "While Dr. Araneta addressed the present generation, to be used in 10 to 20 years, his plan for Tomorrow is ready Today; it is Today that is not ready for his plan of Tomorrow."

Lani Araneta Santiago, the nationalist’s daughter, retells 10 of the 64 Bayanikasan reforms:

• On Elections: Adopt the boxing rule where a heavyweight does not fight a lightweight. A level playing field enables new persons, with perhaps better qualities and qualifications, to get into office in lieu of the same faces again and again or succeeded by relatives.

• On Absolute Power: Reduce the President’s powers. The President should be divested of authority to appoint members of the Judiciary, the Auditor General, and members of the Commission on Elections and Civil Service Commission. Too, the power to suspend or dismiss local officials. Dismissal would be limited to impeachment proceedings.

• On Federal Form of Government: In place of centralized authority, adopt federal system consisting of five States, namely, Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Christian Mindanao. The Federal Government shall be under a Collective Leadership, composed of the Prime Minister, the President, and the Speaker of Parliament. The powers of the Prime Minister and Speaker shall be upgraded; each shall have delineated jurisdictions. Each State shall also have three leaders, the Governor General, the Premier and the Speaker of the State Assembly.

• On Unicameral Parliament: A unicameral legislature will reduce disagreements between the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as waste of material and human resources. Under a parliamentary system, the legislature may withdraw confidence from the President or Prime Minister by a vote of the majority of all its members. Such no-confidence vote may only be done at the beginning of the fourth year of an administration, to give ample time for the President or Prime Minister to prove their worth.

• On the Judiciary: Establish a High Court, called the Constitutional Tribunal, co-equal and prestigious as the Supreme Court, not subordinate to legislative or executive powers, free from politics, and composed of distinguished Filipinos. Likewise, create Special Courts under the Tribunal to handle all cases involving Public Law. The Constitutional Tribunal shall have the power to declare unconstitutional an Act of the Collective Leadership, by a majority vote of its members. The Supreme Court and the courts under it would continue exercising jurisdiction over civil cases, but not violations of election laws. The power over such cases shall be ceded to the new Tribunal. The Tribunal shall also handle cases involving public officials and electoral crimes, as well as impeachment proceedings. Under this division, the Supreme Court would deal solely with cases pertaining to private laws; this would unclog the court dockets.

• On Participatory Democracy: Build a government system with many centers of power, horizontally and vertically, where men cannot entrench themselves indefinitely.

• On Democratizing Wealth: All citizens shall have the human right to be gainfully employed, so that they can provide for themselves food, shelter and clothing. Education shall be the responsibility of government institutions. Lay down a new formula for prosperity, through economic policies of "Capitalism for All", using the Kelsonian approach. Make every citizen a capitalist – not by taking away from the "haves" to give to the "have-nots", not by dividing the pie, but by creating new capitalists and industrial wealth. "Capitalism for All" can be achieved using various tools, starting with stimulating savings, building essential infrastructures, and tapping appropriate technology. Development must be undertaken by walking on two legs – one, a bold, rapid and self-generating industrial program, and the other, an agriculture development policy.

• On the Spirit of the Constitution: Look at "creative solutions" with an open mind. Look not only at the letter but also the spirit of the Constitution. Stand guard over the Spirit of the Great Charter to uphold its purity and integrity, and to preserve democracy. Devise new rules of the game, and pay the initial price for the flowering of a better tomorrow for humanity.

• On the Need to Change Human Values: Unless there is change of human values, all the other suggestions will be ineffective. The change can only be made if citizens are motivated by high moral standards; governed by the principles of truth, justice, equality, transparency and accountability; enlivened by the spirit of caring and sharing; inspired by the exemplary lives of heroes and leaders. The good society is one where no one is above the law, and where there is no double standard in applying laws and policies.
* * *
E-mail: [email protected]

vuukle comment











  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with