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EDITORIAL - We cannot mess around with charter change

(The Freeman) - August 4, 2016 - 12:00am

There is no question that the Constitution needs some amendments. Whether it is to shift to a federal form of government or to modify restrictions on foreign capital, or even to do away with the party-list system — the fact is that the basic law cannot remain static and must keep up with the changing times. The question, therefore, is not whether or not to amend the Constitution but how.

On that note, there are two proposals. One is for Congress to convert itself into a constituent assembly. The other is to call for a constitutional convention, with members elected at large for the purpose. The present constitution, the so-called 1987 Constitution, is a product of the latter. It has never undergone revision. There is much wisdom in doing the same in case it is decided to go for some revisions.

But first the case for a con-ass, or Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly. Proponents of this mode argue that it is cheaper and faster. With that, the case falls promptly and there is no more need to argue any further. The path toward crafting a constitution that is more attuned and responsive to the call of the times cannot be pursued, must not be pursued, on the basis of cost and speed.

It is not a commodity, product or service that Filipinos seek to buy and acquire promptly. It is a roadmap not only for the present but for the generations to come. It is a framework by which the collective destiny of Filipinos will be built for the next 20 years, or 50, or until such time that a fresh assessment is needed and a new amendment is required.

It is a constitution that is at issue here. It is something that Filipinos cannot afford to scrimp or rush. Money and time are of no moment when it is the national interest that is at stake. If the country can spend billions for regular elections that often send nothing but misfits into undeserved positions of power and influence, why cannot that same country spend similar billions to chart its own destiny.

The country cannot allow Congress to convert itself into a constituent assembly because the entire membership of Congress was elected for an entirely different purpose. In fact, many were elected devoid of any purpose at all. They were merely sent into office because they had the money to buy the votes necessary, or the guns to subvert the popular will.

Regardless of how they got into Congress, they did not get there for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Some are not even qualified to amend anything. If the future and destiny of this country is to be entrusted to anyone at all, it has to be entrusted to people specifically qualified and elected for the purpose. It is not everyday that an endeavor as important as amending a constitution happens. Let is not mess around with this one.

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