Misleading Charter change advocacies under different Presidents

Misleading Charter change advocacies under different Presidents

/ 05:01 AM February 29, 2024

Edsa’s idealism right after deposed President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. left was dead in the water, with continued patronage politics under the presidential system. President Cory Aquino was strong, morally, but politically weak. Her six years’ term was characterized by economic doldrums. President Fidel Ramos’ leadership stride was different. His rolled-up barong Tagalog sleeves symbolically said he was breaking away from the traditional failure syndrome and into novel approaches. His solution to the crippling power and electricity problem was strategic, short of a military coup of sorts.

But came President Joseph Estrada, followed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the personality syndrome again lorded it over in government. President Benigno Aquino III’s turn brought a spark of economic success because he allowed his technocrats to run the government. Our GDP rose to more than 2 percent for the first time in years.

The debacle returned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency which was characterized by unwritten dictatorial rule. You’re either on his side or the wrong side. Media behemoth ABS-CBN, because of a personal tiff with him in the 2016 presidential elections, could not renew its franchise despite its impeccable financial records and no unpaid obligations to the government. All because Duterte vowed that renewal would never happen under his watch.


His Davao business cronies became the new guys on the block. Patronage politics worsened because he acted like the mayor of the Philippines. Micromanaging the crises all over the country with billions of pesos in dole-outs made him immensely popular and made people dependent on dole-outs, which were found to have been siphoned from the unspent budget of government of offices. Then President Marcos came and micromanaging was back in fashion, with ayuda for every disaster coming from P9 to P10 billion in discretionary funds.


That’s why no people in their right mind would believe that Charter change will get us anywhere. Foreign direct investments are not coming in because they want special attention. The United States Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s Investment Climate Statement on the Philippines, dated Jan. 24, 2024, tells us why: Poor infrastructure. High power cost. Slow broadband connection. Regulatory inconsistencies. A cumbersome and corrupt bureaucracy. The country’s complex, slow, redundant, and sometimes corrupt judicial system that decides commercial disputes. Traffic congestion in ports. This is the gist of our economic woes.

The reasons we hear for amending the Constitution are mostly self-serving and political. We may overhaul the Constitution, but achieve nothing beneficial for the general public because the flawed dynastic patronage politics under the presidential form of government does not allow it.

Marvel K. Tan,

Quezon City

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TAGS: charter change, EDSA, opinion

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