Time for important changes
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2018 - 12:00am

During these times of confusion and uncertainty in our country’s history, apparently because of a leader with a volatile and inconsistent mind, and with despotic tendencies, Filipinos are becoming more and more skeptic and doubtful of any proposed changes coming from the administration. And this is especially true with respect to the proposed amendments to our Constitution drawn up by a Constitutional Commission (Concom) formed by the President himself.

Indeed so many negative comments and dire predictions are currently being circulated regarding the proposed draft amending or revising the Constitution submitted by the members of the Concom for review by PRRD. In this connection, it is important for all Filipinos to always keep in mind, first and foremost, that any amendment to, or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three fourths of all its members; or (2) A Constitutional Convention  (Article XVII, Section 1, Constitution). Secondly, that “any amendment to, or revision of, the Constitution under Section 4, shall be valid (only) when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days after the approval of such amendment or revision (Idem, Section 2)  

So, at this stage let us set aside first whatever skepticism and negativism we are nurturing so that we can thoroughly and prudently study the draft proposals. We must be aware that the members of the Concom which drafted the proposal are generally men/women of proven integrity and independence who will not just kowtow to the wishes of one man especially a President who appears to have some dictatorial ambitions and wants to perpetuate himself in power.

It is likewise important and necessary to bear in mind that, on the whole, there are more proposals which will redound to the benefit and interest of our country and our people. If we will just refrain from commenting first and weigh in the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed draft, we can easily see that the most significant change here is the change in the form of government from the present unitary presidential system to a federal system.

Under the federal system of government we will have a Chief Executive who is not as powerful as the Chief Executive we now have. So the probability of one-man rule like what happened to us during the Marcos regime, will be remote and less likely to be repeated. This is so because pursuant to the draft proposal, the country will be divided into 16 separate and relatively independent federated regions with defined territories and with its own Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Department. Power will therefore be decentralized and distributed in every federated region. With the geographical feature of our country consisting of more than 7,000 island, the federal system is really more conducive and beneficial.

With such a set-up, the population in each federated region will be smaller, and the area more compact so that justice, peace, progress and prosperity can be achieve more easily and expeditiously by each of the federated regions. Of course there may be regions with less revenues and resources. But this can be easily remedied by ensuring a more equitable distribution of the resources and revenues in every federated region.

The emergence of fiefdoms and political dynasties in the federated regions may also be abated by the draft proposal because the prohibition against political dynasties and the guarantee of equal access to opportunities for public service (Section 26, Article II of the present Constitution) will be clearer, more defined and more enforceable.

The other salient and beneficial provision in the draft proposal is the improvement in the administration of justice by ensuring a speedier, more expeditious and more just decision and disposition of cases filed and pending in court. Pursuant to this provision in the draft proposal, the current “wars” being carried out by this administration, more specifically the war against drugs and the war against corruption will not just be all for show but will really be effective.

Presently, we can clearly see that the “war against drugs” is a mockery of justice. The casualties are mostly suspected drug users or addicts who are themselves victims of the dangerous drugs. So many of them have been killed under the Philippine National Police (PNP) “Oplan Tokhang.” But most of the notorious and widely known drug lords who are the real culprits in the distribution and proliferation of drugs have been cleared of liability and may continue on with their business in the sale and distribution of dangerous drugs. Mainstream media recently reported that  Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, previously convicted drug lord Peter Co and others, have been cleared of illegal drug charges by this government’s Department of Justice (DOJ).

Then of course, nothing much has happened and has been heard of about the importation of P6.4 billion shabu from China. The principal suspects including customs officials have remained scot free and have not even been charged. As social media reported, only the bodegero has been charged.

Another fake “war” is the war against corruption. Up to now no government official has been brought to court for graft. Even though some officials have been removed from office allegedly because of corrupt practices, some of them have been “re-cycled” and re-appointed to other and even higher positions. Reports have also come out in social media that the expenses in the office of the President itself have increased by 500%. With such huge amount of money involved, the possibility of some anomalous deals is not remote. It is really quite intriguing why the Commission on Audit (COA) does not have any report yet about the expenditures in that office.

So with all these fakeries it would seem the proposed federalism is really necessary and desirable as there would be lesser possibility of graft and other crimes because, the territories will be smaller and easier to manage, and the budgetary expenses will be smaller for each federated regions.

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Email: attyjosesison@gmail.com

CHARTER CHANGE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION FEDERALISM
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