WITH HOMOBONO A. ADAZA
“The Constitution is an experiment as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation on some prophesy based on imperfect knowledge.” -Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act.” – Justice Robert Jackson
The present Cory Aquino Constitution needs to amended, nay revised, – for the right reason. It is probably the worst Constitution ever written in this country. Why? It violates the fundamentals of a good Constitution –brief in form, broad in scope and clear in meaning. To borrow the language of our mentors in the UP College of Law, it should not have the prolixity of a Code which means – it should not be so detailed as to possibly cover every imaginable situation.
Brief in form: The reason for this is – a Constitution must be designed to be read and understood by every citizen. It is not just made for lawyers, scholars, legislators, judges, Presidents and public officials. It is for all the citizens of the country. That is why it must be short so everyone can read and understand it at the shortest time possible. It being the fundamental law – every citizen should know how to act consistent with it and when it is violated by other citizens, especially by public officials, he should call the attention of the violators.
The Cory Aquino is like a Code – it is quite long. Even lawyers get tired reading it because it so lengthy. They also have a difficult time understanding it – more so with the simple citizen.
Broad in scope: A Constitution is not just formulated for a day, a year or a decade. It is made for all time, thus the words used must be broad to cover all possible emergent circumstances. One example is the Jeffersonian approach in the American Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”.
More examples are the following terms- due process, equal protection of the law, human rights, social justice, independent foreign policy, sovereignty, democratic, republican which could encompass many specific situation under changing times and circumstances.
Clear in meaning: The provisions of the Constitution must be understood by the most simple-minded citizen. This is one of the primary reasons why the words used must be clear in meaning – to avoid unnecessary debate and dispute. Under rules of constitutional and statutory construction when the words used are clear – there is no need for interpretation. And if there is no room for interpretation, there will be no cause for trouble.
Wrong reasons: The administration wants the Constitution amended for the wrong reasons – the economic provisions and the abolition of the party list. Tinkering with the economic provisions is suicidal. It will open the floodgates to foreigners whose only purpose of coming into the country is to make profits. They don’t care what happens to our country and our people. They just want a high return of investments. We need them like a hole in the head.
Why give them the right to own businesses like telecommunications – radio, television, newspapers, and telephone companies with the same rights as Filipino citizens? Why allow them to exploit our national resources with the same rights as Filipino citizens? Why allow them to own industries which are only for Filipino citizens? Communication corporations involve influence and control of how Filipinos and government think and operate. These are businesses which can be used to spy on government and private individuals and institutions. These corporations can bring trouble to government and Filipino owned businesses. Their potential for causing trouble to our country and our people are unlimited. Why give them this opportunity to do us tremendous harm?
Exploitation of natural resources should be exclusively limited to Filipinos. Why? Like mining and several such activities, the foreigners don’t give a damn on whether they harm the environment and exhaust the resources to their own benefit – at our expense. It is just a question of money, money and more money for them. So why give them more money when we are the ones who need money? Why don’t they invest in their own countries?
Foreign directed: Many of the investors come from China. As usual, they are aligned with Communist government policy to advance Chinese hegemony all over the world. It is bad enough we allow Chinese to conduct huge electronic gambling operations in the Philippines. Electronic gambling is illegal in People’s Republic of China (PRC). So what PRC considers illegal, it dumps in the Philippines just like what Japan and Canada do in dumping their garbage in the Philippines.
In the case of the electronic gambling Chinese operations, it has also brought more problems – entry of more than three thousand members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the guise of POGO workers, according to the undisputed claim of Senator Ping Lacson; entry of Chinese illegal workers who pay Bureau of Immigration (BID) officials and employees at the NAIA expensive bribe money known as pastillas; and, of course, as conduits in the spread of Xi Jin Ping’s China corona virus, not to speak of bringing into the country Chinese women of pleasure, according to media reports.
Another wrong reason: Listening to DOF Secretary Dominguez and DTI Secretary Lopez, the audience is entertained with their song and dance number – we need foreign investments because we have no money to finance economic activities that could provide capital and work for people. This is absolutely wrong.
It was President Bush who, sometime ago, said the richest country in the world is the Philippines. Bush was not only well informed about the abundant natural resources in our country, he must also have known about the Yamashita treasures in the Philippine as well as the mind boggling Marcos gold and cash deposits spread out in many banks throughout the world.
If Cabinet secretaries Dominguez and Lopez are smart as claimed by President Duterte, then why have they not done anything to talk to the holders of the Marcos wealth, especially because seventy percent of the wealth is designed in the Letter of Instruction of President for infrastructure projects whose implementation will be managed by government? Why, oh why, Dominguez and Lopez? Why does not Dominguez instruct his errand boy, BSP Governor Diokno to do something? Or are these guys ignorant they do not know how to get these money from the banks?
Why bury generations of Filipinos in foreign debt when this country is swimming with money in domestic and foreign banks? Why, oh why, Dominguez, Lopez and Diokno?
Party list: This innovation deserves serious examination – not because Representative Antonio Zarate is creating problems for President Duterte. There is more than enough congressmen that adding some more coming from the party list is a little too much in terms of expenses. However, considering the performance of party list representatives in this Congress in comparison to the dismal performance of the representatives of the administration, it is wrong to convene a Constitutional Convention just to abolish the party list simply because President Duterte wants it abolished. As we wrote in a previous column – it is burning the house to kill a mouse.
Wrong time: The government and the country have more pressing problems to consider now – Xi Jing Ping’s corona virus that is causing elemental havoc in the country, killing people and the economy; graft and corruption which is rampant, according to President Duterte himself; the continuing flow of illegal drugs into the country and failure to prosecute the drug lords, manufacturers, importers and protectors; continuing incursions in the West Philippine Sea by China and her communist armed forces; the need to normalize life in the country so people can have jobs and businesses will resume normal fruitful activities; stop the interminable abuses of government officials; help for the needy, and the needed preparation for clean and honest elections in 2022. These are the matters that need immediate government attention. Amendments to the Constitution can wait and most especially because the amendments proposed are the wrong reasons for amending the Constitution.
Secret agenda: Considering that the reasons given for amending the Constitution are wrong and so is the timing, a number of citizens are asking whether President Duterte and his inner circle have a secret agenda to call for amendments to the Constitution. This is a rational question. President Duterte is facing the probability of being ordered arrested by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Many of the cronies of Duterte, both in the public and private sectors, run the risk of criminal prosecution for high crimes which may result to spending the rest of their lives in jail – and President Duterte may suffer the same fate
It is a very interesting thought. If I were President Duterte and his boys, I’d not touch the idea amending the Constitution even if it is tempting. Why? It is may just be the tipping point that could blow everybody in the country sky high, the stratospheric favorable rating that President Duterte is getting from Falso Siya Na and Switik Wither Pa, notwithstanding. HAA