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Dead in the water

At the rate some imbeciles at the House of Representatives are trying to ram constitutional change down our throats even without Senate participation, President Rodrigo Duterte may just find his dream of having a federal-parliamentary system of government dead in the water.

Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution, that part on amendments and revisions, states that “any amendment to or revision of this Constitution may be proposed 1) by the Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its members, or 2) a constitutional convention.

The word “Congress” refers to both chambers, not the House alone.

The best example of this is during the State of the Nation Address by the President. Both the House Speaker and Senate President are behind the President. They both pound the gavel at the beginning and the end of the address. And yet, both members of the Senate and the House are in joint session.

Any man in his right mind will see that while both the Senate and the House members are present in “joint session” to listen to the Sona, the chambers are in fact separate and must thus vote separately.

My gulay, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is so blinded by his own interest in revising the charter. Think again, Mr. Alvarez (and his minions in the so-called super-majority). The framers of the Constitution instituted the check-and-balance system precisely to prevent abuse of power.

I can only laugh when Alvarez and company say they can do all this on their own. Shall we just stand by and allow this to happen?

Some say the question is not justiciable, and thus the Supreme Court cannot have jurisdiction in a political issue. Wrong! The Constitution says the High Court should interpret it—why should it shy away from this mandate?

If the Supreme Court does not assume jurisdiction, then President Duterte as president and chairman of PDP-Laban, the party in power, must intervene. It’s Speaker Alvarez, its secretary-general, who is creating the problem.

Would the people choose a constituent assembly over a constitutional convention?

Amendments cannot be introduced just like that. We should not allow this to happen.

This is why I believe in Con-con, which is composed of delegates elected by the people.

* * *

There is furor over the supposed violation of press freedom with the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission on Rappler. I maintain my position however that the issue is not press freedom but violation of the Constitution. The law says mass media should be owned and controlled, 100 percent, by Filipinos.

There should be 0-percent ownership and control by foreigners.

But Rappler took advantage of Philippine depository receipts to attract foreign investments and introduced a questionable condition.

PDRs are also found in the articles of incorporation of ABS-CBN and GMA. Both PLDT-Smart and Ayala-Globe also have PDRs but they did not violate the Constitution as what Rappler did. Rappler Holdings and Rappler Inc. had a condition that Omidyar Network could veto matters.

Maria Ressa insists that there was suppression of press freedom. But this freedom is not absolute. I am always free to say what I want about anybody, but I am limited by the law on libel.

Logic tells us that Omidyar’s veto power amounts to control.

Still, I think that media ownership this should form part of charter amendments. We all need technology to go with the times.

* * *

The House Committee on Justice believes that the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno could be brought to the Senate by March.

Sereno’s lawyers say otherwise, but their client has indeed failed the test of moral rectitude.

Public trust is so broad a concept; anything could fall under it. 

Topics: Federalism , Constitutional change , Rappler
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