Cha-cha: House coup against Senate

Congress keeps harping on the necessity to amend the Constitution supposedly because there’s a need to attract foreign businesspersons to invest in our country.

But is there really such a clamor from foreign investors? Where is the data, statistics, and research that say that foreign businesspersons would have come in droves to invest in our country, if not for the limitations in our Constitution?

The complaints of foreign businesspersons who refuse to invest in our country represent a variety of reasons but very little of them include restrictions in our Constitution, to my knowledge. Their major complaints are as follows: corruption; expensive electricity; slow internet; long-winding bureaucratic processes; inadequate seaports for big ships, and; lack of cheap inland transport for goods such as trains. How will a constitutional change solve these complaints? Will public officials become honest if the Constitution is amended? Will electricity become cheap and internet become fast, if there’s Charter change (Cha-cha)?

What then are the reasons why Congress is eager to amend the Constitution? There’s an old reason and a new reason. The old reason is the same motivation that has impelled virtually every president we’ve had—Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Rodrigo Duterte, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (except Benigno Aquino III)—to support Cha-cha. It’s pure and simple addiction to power. Virtually everyone who has occupied Malacañang has attempted to extend his/or her hold or influence on power.

There are telltale signs that congresspersons are up to no good in proposing Cha-cha at this time. They’re hiding under the skirt of people’s initiative to push for Cha-cha, when in truth it’s really congresspersons who are behind the move. Why hide and mislead the people if you have genuine motives? Public funds are unlawfully being used to push for Cha-cha. People are being made to sign on to an amendment proposal that’s not explained to them and understood by them.

The biggest proof that the amendments being pushed by the House of Representatives is nothing but a brazen grab for power, is shown by the proposed amendment itself. I’ve seen a copy of the documents being circulated for people’s initiative signatures, and the proposed amendment to Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution is this: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members, VOTING JOINTLY, AT THE CALL OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT OR THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.”

The proposed amendment is blatantly meant to strip the Senate of its powers to have its coequal say on any constitutional amendment. If the amendment is approved, the number of senators (24) will only be added to the number of congresspersons (315), and the combined votes will be totaled to determine if the required three-fourths vote is met. This is opposite to the more sensible provision of the current Constitution which requires three-fourths vote of both the Senate and the House, voting separately.

The proposed amendment amounts to a brazen coup d’ etat being attempted by the House to render the Senate powerless in Cha-cha initiatives. It’s also an attempt by the House to bypass the Supreme Court from exercising its judicial powers to interpret the provisions of the current Constitution—on whether the Senate and the House should vote jointly or separately—because the proposed amendment will already supply the interpretation.

It’s further obvious that the current constitutional amendment being pushed is merely STAGE ONE. There’s going to be a STAGE TWO where the House—with its new monopoly of power to initiate Cha-cha—will then propose any constitutional amendment completely at its whim. Once the House pries open the door to Cha-cha, there will be no stopping congresspersons from proposing even a completely new Constitution.

On the other hand, the new reason for the push for Cha-cha is peculiar to the Marcos administration. The 1987 Constitution represents an enduring symbol of the ouster from power of the Marcoses. Our fundamental law is replete with provisions that embody the people’s rejection of everything that the Marcos family stood for under the Marcos dictatorship. If the Marcoses are able to usher in a new Constitution replacing the current one which is an Aquino legacy, it will etch in stone the triumphal return of the Marcoses. The Constitution can be completely overhauled so that the fundamental law that rules over the land will thenceforth be a Marcos constitution.

There may be a time when we need to amend our Constitution. But now is the wrong time. We have leaders with the wrong motives, and we have people who will vote for the wrong reasons.


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