What are we in power for? A revisit

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

Those of us who do not know anything about military strategy can only marvel at the theories of Sun Tzu. His work On War, is replete with principles on how to wage war that, at first glance, appear to be simple yet on deeper analysis are nothing but simple.

Take for instance two of his theories both of which are basically anchored on deception. Sun Tzu said that if a military commander is on the verge of war and he is certain of his invincibility, he feigns weakness, lures his enemy to attack and destroys him. If, on the other hand, this military leader is not yet completely prepared to do battle, he should feign strength. The apparent rationale is that when a leader of a weak army succeeds to show off the best of its assets and manages to conceal the inferiority of his corps, the opposing army might not be emboldened to attack right away for fear of being crushed. In the lull of time consequent of the hesitation, the general of the weak army gets the enough time to prepare.

When President Rodrigo R. Duterte was still in the campaign trail, I remember him advocating for a constitutional change. He claimed that there was an urgent need to shift to a parliamentary form of government. But he noted that the attempts of previous administrations to push for a constitutional amendment failed in the massive distrust of the citizens against the ruling political families that have been in control of the reins of government. The strength of his position rested in the belief that our people were ready to revisit the constitution. At the same time, he saw our weakness. We could be lulled to agreeing to the projected amendments to the fundamental law if it should be effected by a Constitutional Convention.

The president bought enough time. Since his election, he has continued his relentless drive against illegal drug trade. Each time a suspected drug pusher is neutralized, to use a less gruesome terminology, he highlights the awe of ordinary citizens in his leadership. I have been hearing our masa exhort, "Mao nay presidente!" to demonstrate the score he has achieved.

In the area of political structure, the president has managed to strengthen his army of supporters. There have been so many political turncoats that those who are left true to their parties are but in the absolute minority. Many are no longer members of the once formidable Liberal Party. The key leaders of both houses of our legislature are undoubtedly his men. Senate President Koko Pimentel heads the PDP Laban, the political party of the president. The speaker of the House of Representatives was the president's choice before noon of June 30. Even those who want to project the image of being arrayed in the opposition, in both legislative chambers, are perceived to be the president's cadres.

Having consolidated his power, President Duterte is poised to do even the unexpected. I am not averse to calling his tactic as one lesson from Sun Tzu. From where I sit, a planned constitutional change by means of the so-called Con-Ass.

What is this Con-Ass anyway? This is a manner of amending the constitution where the proposed amendments are the products of the deliberations of the senators and congressmen acting as a constituent assembly. In other words, the very politicians who have refused to legislate the constitutional policy against political warlords will be the same persons who will craft amendments to the constitution. That was the gist of or distrust to constitutional change via Con-Ass.

Unfortunately, there is a change of tact. This is not what the president told us while he was campaigning for our votes. He was then clear in his position. In his plan to amend the constitution, he would call for a constitutional convention. Any proposal for changing parts of the constitution should come from a body of men and women who do not have personal and political interests to protect. I am disappointed that the president seems to have forgotten what he said. Well, he is no different from a former president who said "What are we in power for?"

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