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"Let the new president elected next year initiate the revision of the Constitution, preferably through a duly-elected convention."

 

Congressmen are pushing for amendments to the 1987 Constitution, purportedly to ease the restrictions on foreign ownership of land and capital, the so-called “economic provisions.”

Senators have cast doubts on the statements of our congressmen’s claims that the amendments will be limited to said economic provisions. Once the music of cha-cha begins, there’s no saying how the amendments will sway.

The Senate likewise will insist on the constituent assembly voting separately; otherwise, the 24 senators will be drowned out by 300 or so members of the HoR. It is not likely that the senators will agree to voting jointly.

The President’s interest in cha-cha is predicated on his desire to limit the participation of the revolutionary Left in the party-list representation, now a huge bloc in the HoR. He sees a sinister cooperation between the NPA rebels and the party-list representatives, and he and the military have reasons to break that synergy.

But it is a bit late in the day for cha-cha to succeed. People are agog about the availability of and accessibility to the vaccines that would prevent further infection from COVID-19. The impact on the economy of the pandemic is clearly worrisome. Bankers are losing sleep over the proliferation of bad loans, particularly from the real estate and services sector which borrowed heavily during the good times, which would have continued had it not been for the viral pandemic.

Furthermore, elections are just around the corner. Nine months hence, candidates for national and local offices will file their certificates of candidacy before the Comelec. Of primary importance to all sectors, and particularly to business, whether domestic or foreign, is who will emerge as successor to the President, whose term ends June 30, 2022.

So, if our congressmen think that removing the restrictive provisions in the present Constitution would attract foreign investments in droves, they better think deeper. Such provisions are not a magic wand that would lure foreign business, when they are looking to the elections of May 2022 and will bide their investment decisions until the results are clear.

We agree with the President that the party-list system needs an overhaul, but cha-cha at this time is doomed to fail. It would create noise, but it is not likely to come to fruition.

My complaint about the party-list system is more than just the election of leftist lawmakers. They still constitute a small minority compared to those who have abused the system by fostering dynasties, vested interests, and ridiculous groups claiming the mantle of the marginalized. Where in the world could something as ridiculous as a party named 1-Pacman be recognized as a political party?

To give way to the President’s desire to revamp the party-list representation, Congress might just as well initiate amendments to Republic Act 7941, the enabling law to the present party-list system.

Besides, Comelec, which is now dominated by appointees of the President after most of the appointees of the Aquino administration have retired, could be more judicious in certifying to the parties in their accredited listing. RA 7941 in fact gives Comelec authority to purge the list.

Let’s put the cha-cha in the backburner, for now. I have been consistent in expressing my disagreement to many provisions, both political and economic, of this hastily-written Constitution of 1987. Still, it may be folly to do the cha-cha now. Let the new president elected next year initiate the revision of the Constitution, preferably through a duly-elected convention, in the first two years of his term.

**

Always the sober and reasonable man, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana wants to reach out to the University of the Philippines, and even the entire academic community, to explain why he decided to unilaterally abrogate the concord between the peace-keeping forces and the state university.

“My intentions are pure. My goal is simple --- to minimize the threat to our youth,” Lorenzana said, and we believe his sincerity.

Under a former military man, Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, the hand of peace was extended by the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law, for indeed, there should be no unthinkable thoughts in a democracy. We are not like China which is an authoritarian, single party-led system. But surely, the State must have the needed instruments to protect the citizenry from the continuing, and debilitating threat of a leftist revolution that has become the longest-running insurgency in the world.

Those who keep arguing that the way to fight revolutionaries is to abolish poverty, while utopian in principle, forget that the insurgents have a singularity of purpose, which is to topple duly-elected and constituted government, and impose their own totalitarian system with which they hope to “liberate” the masses from poverty and social injustice.

Let the security forces and the academic community find a middle ground. Secretary Del’s offer to talk, and act together should be most welcome.

**

One of my simple joys especially when in the country, is going to the wet market to buy produce and then cook for my children and grandchildren.

This weekend was a shocker, even to someone like me who can afford a little food price spike and often not even notice the same. Pork at 400 plus pesos per kilo? Vegetables too? Never mind the price of crabs and prawns, which are always high.

For the last 20 years, we have neglected agriculture. That’s an entire generation, from the Joc-joc fertilizer years, to the inability of PNoy’s Procy Alacala to give proper direction to the department and its myriad concerns, followed by PRRD’s Manny Pinol.

Secretary Willy Dar is trying mighty hard to reverse the neglect and the lack of proper directions., hobbled as well by the ASF, which similar to the coronavirus, is taking its deadly toll upon our hog industry. It will take time and plenty of resources which were wasted before his watch. We can only wish him well.

Meanwhile, I am afraid that inflation could reach as high as 4 to 4.5 percent this year because of food, despite decreased consumer confidence and demand. That is way beyond the 2.8-percent target of government. Pray that there are no major weather disturbances this year.

Topics: Lito Banayo , 1987 Constitution , Charter change , cha-cha , economic provisions , Secretary Delfin Lorenzana , University of the Philippines
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