The “Presidentiables” and Mindanao 2010-2016 (7): On Charter Change

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews) – It has been suggested that one of the solutions to the conflict between the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro is to amend the Constitution to allow for the kind of governance system that the Bangsamoro people desire. In fact, it is only in the latter part of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that the Constitution is being acknowledged, unlike in the past negotiations when the mere mention of the word was avoided.

In August-September when the interviews were done, the major issue was Charter Change before or after 2010. Another controversial issue was Speaker Prospero Nograles’ proposal for a 100% ownership of lands by foreigners, which also requires a Constitutional amendment.

Nograles said he filed House Resolution 737 because of his frustration in finding solutions that would end the four decades of armed conflict in some parts of Mindanao which he noted “is trapped in a chicken and egg situation.”

Is his proposal the solution?

What about the continued stay of US military forces in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao? What do the Presidential candidates say?

On Charter Change in general and Charter Change as one of the solutions to the Mindanao problem

My fundamental issue with charter change is everybody keeps talking of the how but I’m not exactly sure if there has been a concentration of the why aspect. Now I liken it to a house. You remove the foundation there has to be a demonstration of increased benefits of the removal of risks for the people, it shouldn’t be something capricious. Admittedly it is an imperfect document because it was made by imperfect beings but in the course of trying to make it better, do we risk losing a lot of provisions that only happened because they had come after the martial law period? Iyong weakening for instance of or increasing rather, the ground for warrantless arrest. Would there be a tendency for, shall we say, a less liberal Constitution, meaning more restrictive more diminishing of the rights of the people? I’m not for that.

My stand there no Charter change should be implemented now, it should be after 2010 election.
That is very important because the future of our government lies on our constitution and we cannot allow these corrupt congressmen to write our constitution.

First, I did not vote for the constitution I campaigned against it. I still don’t think that it is a good constitution. But I think I’m respecting the perception of the public that whenever a president suddenly offers charter change without even saying what is gonna change, that it’s a suspect. That is why, I’ve suggested that we conduct charter change after this election and that it becomes an issue of what would the congressman and the senators who are running want to change the charter. Because I don’t believe we call a Concon. Concon is a darn right expensive once it has created it has a power of its own, it will amend everything it will overhaul it. I am in favor of partial changes in the constitution, slowly but surely changing a particular bill or portion of the constitution….

… I don’t think that the tail should wag the dog. I think it’s important that we see what’s best for all of us. Obviously we have to respect the fact that our brother Muslims … They have been abused and I think that they have been. The policy before of allowing go west and go south young man in our case. In the United States, ‘go west,’ in the Philippines it’s ‘go south.’ That has happened and that cannot be changed anymore and we have to live with that and I think the only way to equalize the situation is — I’ve seen too many Muslim Filipinos who are very articulate, very well educated and they love education — so to equalize by making sure that we provide education in these areas, provide the necessary economic development in these area and I’m talking not just economic development “ho hum” but economic development at full blast (just like we did in Subic Bay).

Charter change now, especially Con-Ass is totally unacceptable because the con-ass that being done now by congress will actually making our situation worse. No. 1 it will legitimize an existing government that is not legitimate. I always consider it in my writings publicly that Arroyo is an illegitimate president and what we have is basically a citizen’s junta governed by her and so we don’t really have a democracy right now. And so to have a Charter Change, ang Saligang Batas or Constitution changed by a group of people of politicians that have no legitimacy is actually totally unacceptable.

One of the most outrageous things is they want to change the economic provision so that the Philippines can be sold basically to people with money abroad. One hundred per cent ownership for example, ridiculous deal with China long term lease 1.2 m hectares which was shelved after the ZTE scandal broke through, but there’s alos Japan, there’s also London, the South Korea.

Let’s call a spade a spade. There is no such thing as a non-partisan election. So in the election for constitutional convention delegates, let’s not call non- partisan, let’s call it partisan election. Any political party wants to support a candidate go. Why? Because this allows fuller participation on the part of the public. And even if a future President, if it be me, I will be first to advocate to the public to use public opinion to also help influence charter change members rather than me going through the back room.

Ako sa Charter change dito sa ngayon, laban ako diyan, not now. Ako hindi ko naman sinasabing ang Charter change ay ten commandments. Pwedeng palitan yan. Pwedeng mag amendment diyan pero anuman ang babaguhin mo ngayon, one year to go or less than one year to go or nine months to go na lang, ay hindi na maganda para sa tao dahil natatakot sila na baka ito’y magamit sa term extension ninuman, Sa tingin ko sa simula ng term extension ng sinumang official kung maraming humihingi, pwedeng pag-usapan yan. Pero ung prosesong tama, hindi ung mga shortcuts. Meron namang tamang proseso yan, merong plebisito yan, mahaba kasi ang process na yan eh. Ngayon kung wala namang interesado sa Charter Change, eh ba’t naman kailangan pa? Kaya ako hindi ako nainiwala na top priority yan, pero hindi ko pipigilan yan. Kung maraming gustong mag-amenda ng ating konstitusyon.

Ako, kaya nga ako sinasabi ko na hindi naman pwedeng hindi natin pakinggan ung ibang sector ng ating lipunan. Kung halimbawa marami tayong kababayan sa Mindanao na gustong amendahin ang konstitusyon sa Mindanao, ok lang din yan. Basta ang sinasabi ko, pag-usapan sa tamang proseso. Wala akong nakikitang problema diyan. Maski nga pag-usapan ang Federalism ok din, maski pag-usapan ung ibang form of government okay rin. Basta ang kailangan tama ang proseso. [Tomorrow: The Nograles Proposal and US military forces] (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)