No-El favors Robredo

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - January 15, 2021 - 12:00am

There are now moves to amend the Constitution, ostensibly to tweak certain economic provisions such as the limits to foreign ownership so as to prime up the economy. There is really no problem about amending the Constitution. In a constantly changing world, even the fundamental law needs to adjust to emerging circumstance to stay dynamic.

Matters pertaining to the economy in particular need as much readjustment as may be necessary. Not so much with political adjustments. It is something intrinsic in politics that change and adjustment almost come as second nature to the play itself. There are, however, certain changes that are too fundamental as to really require final amendment.

One such amendment involves the holding or non-holding of elections as this may affect tenures of office that are rigidly set in the constitution. And this is what renders moves to amend the charter for economic reasons suspect because it is always so easy for any charter change initiatives to make a left turn once set in motion.

The greatest fear right now, in case moves to amend the Constitution for economic reasons gain any traction, is how easy and quickly changes that are political in nature can be piggy-backed to the economic initiatives. No-El or no election is what they call it. There are fears that the No-El scenario is intended to keep President Duterte in power.

Due to several self-admitted ailments, President Duterte is old at 75. Even if most Filipinos may want to keep him in office beyond his term (his approval ratings have remained consistently very high) due to the coronavirus pandemic that is not expected to go away soon, Duterte himself is not likely to relish staying a minute longer in office.

I do not think, therefore, that there is any real and serious initiative to have no elections and, as a consequence, keep Duterte in office beyond his term except that which could be coming from his own enemies. While his enemies loathe Duterte, there is a real potential benefit they may derive if he stays in office.

Not too long ago, his enemies had wished him dead. They went to great lengths trying to pry away his medical records in the hope of confirming the ills they had been wishing him. But the old man is gritty and tenacious. He is hanging on. Yet his enemies know he cannot hang on forever. If Duterte finally lets go, that means Vice President Leni Robredo, whose term gets extended with Duterte's in a No-El, gets to be president.

I would not be surprised if Duterte's enemies resorted to this devious means just to get the presidency they cannot otherwise get by normal means. Duterte is not going to die as they hoped. So having him succeeded by Robredo within their terms is not likely. A living, breathing and popular Duterte will be a terrific endorser for his own successor, tough for Robredo who cannot even beat a Marcos. Her only chance is No-El. Then wish Duterte ill.

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