Some Malacañang boys gobbledygook
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - January 11, 2018 - 12:00am

The other day, Secretary Harry Roque was heard expressing a probable policy of President Rodrigo Duterte. He said the president would want us trust on the good faith of China. I assumed that the supposed good faith that we have to trust should refer to what China is doing to the islands in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Last week, Congressman Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte, my late father's home province, also told the media that they in the House of Representatives crafted some changes in the 1987 Philippine Constitution-claiming the president authorized it.

These are two major, significant issues and it is unfortunate that the Roque-Mercado signals, raised with Malacañang's imprimatur, seem to further erode my trust in our president.

What good faith is Roque talking about? Few years ago, China drew its so-called nine-dash line, in a disdainful, arrogant way of claiming territories owned by the Philippines. We must remember that our country, under then President Benigno Aquino III, filed a case with the International Court of Arbitration contesting China's expansionism-and we won that case! But what did China do? It disregarded the decision of the arbitral tribunal, seized our islands, and established military facilities on these. Let us tell Roque that China, conscious of our military incapability, has shown no modicum of good faith at all. This bully of a nation cannot be trusted.

Mercado has done worse than the verbal juxtaposition of Roque. I hope I was wrong in assimilating the context of his encounter with newsmen. But what I heard from the legislator confused Constitutional Law concepts, parlaying words and phrases of indifferent and contrasting connotations. For instance, he said our lawmakers are not amending the Constitution-just revisiting it, and proposing to change few provisions. Did he intend to confuse us? Why?

It is possible that Mercado wanted to tell us that members of the House do not entertain the idea of revising the charter. Revision is different from amendment. To revise the Constitution isto overhaul it, while to affect minor parts is amendment. I recall that Mercado used the words "revisit" and "minor changes." Perhaps he planned to project to his audience a less alarming move of Congress, while making reference to President Duterte as the man behind it.

Mercado did worse than Roque because he attempted to gyp us into thinking that congressmen are just toying with the idea of introducing minor changes in our Constitution, and for us to pass charter change without scrutiny.

This is cheating of the highest order. A change in the form of government structure in the Constitution is a revision, a total overhaul. Mercado cannot lull us into complacency by labeling their action as amendment with few minor provisions affected.

Based on these two major issues, is it possible that Malacañang wants us to trust China, despite its usurpation of our territory? And while we are entertaining the Chinese good faith, we revise our Constitution to (a) redefine our national territory to perpetuate legally China's occupation of the islands in the WPS; and to (b) allow massive Chinese capital to dominate our natural resources?

If the president has given marching orders along this line, his words promoting national interest is as hazy as Mercado's gobbledygook.

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