Sneaky way to overhaul Charter; more on ICC | Inquirer Opinion
With Due Respect

Sneaky way to overhaul Charter; more on ICC

Days ago, the House of Representatives — voting overwhelmingly, 301-6-1 — adopted a resolution (and an accompanying bill) calling for a constitutional convention (con-con) professedly to liberalize the Constitution’s economic provisions, except land ownership, a palatable amendment for our people based on poll surveys.

WITH DUE RESPECT, THIS IS A SNEAKY ATTEMPT to overhaul, not just amend or revise, the Constitution. When asked by Karen Davila in a TV interview, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, the main sponsor of the resolution, candidly admitted that the con-con, once convened, cannot be prevented from overhauling the entire Constitution, including the institution of a federal-parliamentary system and infinite term extensions for lawmakers and other politicians.


If the intention is really to amend only the restrictive economic provisions, why not just convene a constituent assembly (con-ass) and get “a three-fourths vote of all (the) members” of Congress, voting separately? With the overwhelming vote cast for the con-con, I am sure the House can easily muster the needed three-fourths vote.

Moreover, since the House is adopting the “hybrid” proposal of retired CJ Reynato S. Puno, why not honestly and openly adopt also the recommendations of the “Consultative Commission” he chaired during the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte, among which is the federal system. After all, these recommendations were supposedly formulated after unbridled deliberations by experts in constitutional law and political science. While I do not support the federal system, I believe this Charter change (Cha-cha) route is more honest and less devious.


COMFORTINGLY, SEN. ROBINHOOD PADILLA, the main dance proponent in the Senate, vehemently opposes the con-con because economic liberalization can easily be achieved through a con-ass that can use laser surgery to excise only the restrictive provisions. In this way, the multibillion peso expenses for electing con-con delegates and for their salaries, per diems, allowances, transportation, etc. could be avoided and put to better use for the more urgent priorities of President Bongbong Marcos (PBBM).

While I still believe—as I wrote in this space on Jan. 23—that this is the wrong time for Cha-cha and that Cha-cha cannot succeed without the support of PBBM (dancing is not one of his priorities), I think that if Cha-cha ever pushes through—and it should not—it must be held transparently and devoid of slyness and deviousness. The good news is that Senate President Migz Zubiri announced last week that Cha-cha is not the Senate’s priority. That should stop the music and noise of Cha-cha, whether sneaky or open—for now.

RE. MY PIECE LAST MONDAY, a top judiciary incumbent, a brilliant Cabinet member, and several other readers texted their support for my proposal to create, via executive order, an independent and credible panel (similar to the Agrava Board formed by the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.) as the best way to stop the International Criminal Court (ICC) from taking over the investigation and prosecution of alleged crimes against humanity which would consign the Philippines to the grubby company of failed African states.

However, their common question is whether there are enough independent and credible citizens willing to set aside their present work and devote their full time and energy to this difficult task that is really the duty of our government agencies.

My immediate answer is “Yes.” In fact, several readers nominated anyone of these retired jurists to head the panel: Justices Roberto Abad, Adolf Azcuna, Josue Bellosillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Romeo Callejo Sr., Rosmari Carandang, Mariano del Castillo, Angelina Gutierrez, Francis Jardeleza, Vicente Mendoza, Andres Reyes Jr., Minerva Reyes, and Jose Vitug.

As for credible citizens from the business, professional, youth, and nongovernment groups, any four of the following were suggested as panel members: Ada Abad, Mario Bautista, Corazon Bernardo, Romeo Bernardo, Sean James Borja, Sedfrey Candelaria, Danilo Concepcion, Arvin Cortez, Jose de Jesus, Nilo Divina, Lydia Echauz, Macel Estavillo, Ray Espinosa, Rowena Flores, Felipe Gozon, Virgilio Jacinto, Joan Largo, Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, Cirilo Noel, Andre Palacios, Raul Pangalangan, Jose Pardo, Alex Poblador, Patricia Prodigalidad, Pedro Roxas, Monsignor Gerardo Santos, Amando Tetangco Jr., Margarito Teves, Cesar Villanueva, Eduardo Yap, and Roberto Yap, SJ.

The panel will need two general counsels with the caliber of Andres Narvasa (who later became chief justice) and Bienvenido Tan Jr. (who later became an ambassador) of the Agrava Board. For this delicate work, I think the President can choose from these nominated lawyers: Bautista, Concepcion, Divina, Espinosa, Poblador, Prodigalidad, and Villanueva.

These are the names emailed or texted to me thus far. I am sure there are others that readers may suggest, or object to. I respectfully declined my nomination to head the panel made by a Supreme Court incumbent. Ethically, I should not benefit from my own proposal.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, charter change, Constitutional Convention, International Criminal Court, Rufus Rodriguez, With Due Respect
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