BY JESS DUREZA
INDEED, there are many reasons why we need to take another look at our Constitution, not only those pertaining to the economic provisions but including the political and the whole gamut of our basic law that need alignment with the realities of the fast-paced world.
Despite being a congressman myself before (or maybe because I was one before), I do not trust Congress to do a constituent assembly (Con-Ass), notwithstanding how many times Speaker Sonny Belmonte shall swear to high heavens that Congress would support only those that will deal on economic reforms.
There is a need for a comprehensive review, not the knee-jerk type. Even the timing will be questioned now that President Benigno Aquino III is nearing the end of his term and the surfacing of naughty suggestions of lifting term limits (although I have no doubt that they cannot hack if, even if they want to.) Let’s do this, as they say, with feelings.
Let President Aquino leave a legacy to the Filipinos. He can call for the convening of a constitutional convention (Con-Con), the delegates to be elected in 2016 to coincide with the national elections. This way, we separate the men from the boys: those more political to run for public office, and the less political to the Con-Con.
If done simultaneously with regular elections, lame ducks rejected in that election by the people don’t get a second option and inflict themselves on the people. Then let the Con-Con be convened as soon as the new president also assumes office. That way, an honest-to-goodness Charter change (Cha-cha) can be done.
This may take more time and more resources. But there’s no other better way if we want to reform as a nation.
The topic discussed during the Canadian Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting in Davao (Aboitiz executive Bobby Orig as Davao chief) a few days ago framed the reasons why we need to open up our Constitution.
ACCRA Law Senior Partner Eusebio Tan, the resource speaker, walked through some laws to illustrate.
For instance, the retail trade law that is supposed to protect small Filipino businessmen is more breached than observed.
Look around your favorite Chinatown areas. Even the practice of professions that are reserved only for Filipinos needs review in the light of globalization. This is ancient.
The 60-percent rule on Filipino ownership of corporations is also subject to review. This is not only restrictive; we see this also being “layered” to circumvent it. Including those businesses 100 percent reserved for Filipinos.
I read with keen interest the statement of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah warning the whole world that if we do not wipe out the Islamic jihadists fast and quick, they will be knocking on our own doors in no time.
I wonder if our Philippine authorities will now take his advice to heart. If the report is accurate that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have announced their alliance with the dreaded Islamic State (Isis) group that is responsible for barbaric acts of slaughtering and beheading non-believers of Islam, then it’s time to do some real action on this.
The problem, however, is that we have a ceasefire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and we are still nurturing the environment conducive to the peace process with the pendency of the work on the peace agreement. An all-out attack on the BIFF and ASG stronghold will surely inflict collateral damage on the peace process.
We know that extremists are tactically embedded in Muslim communities and this is their effective protection from punitive military operations.
A surgical attack, even though how carefully executed, will definitely result to civilian casualties, including displacements.
Of course, we know that some civilians provide them actual sanctuary and support.
We even heard of instances of prior planned military operations being prematurely leaked and passed on to high-value targets.
I was told of one operation in Lanao to get bomber-terrorist Marwan, an internationally- wanted Indonesian, but the raiders returned to base empty-handed because the targets were tipped off ahead of time. And the reason for this is understandable. Under the ceasefire agreement with the MILF, no military operations can be done unless prior coordination is done with the MILF. The result is obvious.
Perhaps, when the time is ripe, the MILEF will be tested – if it is capable of governing and policing the Bangsamoro and rid it with those dregs of the land.
On the other hand, doubters see the duplicity of it all – believing that the BIFF is an instrumentality of the MILF and it (BIFF) serves a good purpose of doing pressure tactic on the government and at the same time becoming a “fallback position” for the MILF when things do not turn out as expected in the peace process with the government. The reasons are obvious!
Let’s see if the doubters’ speculations turn out false. Or true./PN