Is Charter Change Really A Threat To Philippine Democracy?

I remembered back in the 90s when there was the hype that former president Fidel V. Ramos wanted to be a dictatorship because of his desire to replace the 1987 Constitution with a parliamentary system. Back then, I was still under the influence of the Yellows, I still admired Benigno Aquino Sr. as a hero, I believed that Cory C. Aquino supposedly restored democracy and that martial law was always a bad thing. Later, I found out that the problem of the Marcos Years wasn't the declaration of martial law but its misuse and abuse. President Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao was fully approved and constitutional in contrast to the sudden declaration back in September 21, 1972. This was all the hype that charter charge or constitutional reform equals a threat to Philippine democracy?

Do you remember the anti-Cha Cha or charter change really back during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? It was a series of scare-mongering not just by the Yellows (where Mar Roxas showed he too wasn't as "disente" or a decent guy as he wanted Filipinos to believe that he was) but also from activist groups who are VERY IGNORANT about basic economics. As much as I believe that former president Arroyo may be guilty of certain charges that she's accused of but let's focus on the aim of constitutional reform towards the 1987 Constitution. It would be time to go back to Ramos' desire for charter change -- why did he want to do so? He wanted to turn the Philippines into a tiger economy but failed. Unfortunately, all the 1987 Constitution did was prevent the Philippines from turning into a PAPER TIGER economy.

The problem of economic protectionism is one factor that prevented the Philippines from becoming a tiger economy. So why is the Philippine government limiting foreign ownership to merely 40% when other countries allow at least 50% and higher -- all depending on the agreement of foreign partners and local partners? The first agenda of charter change should be shifting the Philippines from economic protectionism ran by the oligarchs to the free trade. How many times do I need to tell those idiots that foreign investors are not foreign invaders and that the OFW phenomenon doesn't equate to a form of conquest? In truth, OFW remittances may no longer be the most reliable thing especially if you consider the delay in revenues. It's plain business sense that will tell you foreign investors doing businesses in the Philippines will give you more revenues in the form of taxes FASTER than OFW remittances. Also, it's not a threat to democracy if you've got foreign investors working under Philippine laws nor is it a threat to Philippine sovereignty. Just check out the blooming Asian economies such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China -- they all engage in free trade and they have still maintained their sovereignty!

The next problem that I'd like to address more than federalism is the problem of the term limits for presidents. I started noticing that some of the biggest failures of former president Noynoy Aquino (as well as past predecessors) come from the timeframe or unreasonable term limits. Is a long reign necessarily a dictatorship or tyranny? The long reigns of both Mahathir Muhammad of Malaysia and Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore are not dictatorships. You'd probably only think that they are dictators if you're someone with a mindset like Anwar Ibrahim and Amos Yee. The problem of the 1987 Constitution is that the president may only serve one term for six years. Six years is too long for the incompetent and too short for the competent. The bigger blame for rush projects (due to unrealistic time frames) and unfinished projects goes with the term limit. For example, the MRT Express Project which didn't happen during Noynoy's time can be blamed on the unrealistic time limit. I mean, how can you expect Noynoy to carry out the January 1, 2016 deadline in such a short amount of time? Also, Noynoy could have inaugurated the New Mactan Airport if it wasn't for the six year presidential time limit and if he were prime minister instead of president.

The current Philippine constitution is plagued with the problem of popularity-based democracies. The presidential system's democracy is mostly a government of the majority, by the majority and for the majority or alternatively it's a government by the plurality, of the plurality and by the plurality. To say that popularity should be the basis of democracy isn't going to make it a government of the people, by the people and for the people. A real democratic process respects both the majority and the minority. The parliamentary gives both sides a choice. The parliamentary setting gives the majority bloc (the incumbent government) and the minority bloc (which serves as the formal opposition) a voice in the government. It means that the 51% and above and the 49% and below are given their choice. As said, the voices of both the majority and minority must be heard because neither side is always right or wrong. Facts will remain as facts regardless of the number of people who accept the facts or not.

Lastly, it's about federalism. How can federalism be repressive and give more power to any ruler of the country if it DECENTRALIZES the nation to start with? You can think about how federalism works where it creates a give a take process. Don't tell me that decentralization will empower any president or prime minister? Federalism is not feudalism. It's feudalism that will give rise to warlords and empower political dynasties. Federalism would mean that certain areas of a nation won't have to wait for the capital for certain areas. For instance, Region X doesn't have to wait for the National Capital Region when it comes to issues of local concern. How can a decentralized government be a dictatorship compared to the system of Imperial Manila? Imperial Manila is a real dictatorship especially that it oppresses Filipinos who aren't Tagalog. Don't tell me only Tagalogs are Filipinos and the rest of the Philippines is but captured territory of the "Tagalog Empire"? No it isn't. All people who pledge allegiance to the Philippines are FILIPINOS and they too should be included in Philippine democracy -- not just the Imperial Manileneos!

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