Election season has pushed the burning topic of Charter Change to the back burner with the electorate and the public being fed with propaganda from candidates that the problems of our country stems from the obscene and systematic corruption in our government.
That’s not the case in our Parliamentary Procedures course as starting tomorrow, we officially convene our class into a mock Constitutional Convention tasked with the solemn duty of revising the 1987 Constitution of our Republic.
It’s an exercise for us to practice what we’ve learned in Parliamentary procedures which every good student of Political Science should know by heart. We’ve been divided into committees focused on major parts of the Constitution with myself being the Chairman of the Committee on National Economy and Patrimony.
It may not be my favorite committee but it’s an opportunity to protect the economy of the Philippines from the ravages of globalization and international ‘free’ trade. Also to conserve and reserve the resources of the Philippines for Filipinos. It all means that provisions that remove the restrictions on foreign ownership of land will not pass as on my watch. I’m not saying that we close-off the country to foreign trade and commerce, but the whole point is retain the “Filipino first” policy in the Constitution.
The only changes that need to be inserted would be a provision to include principles of sustainable development as part of the national economic policies especially now in this times of changing global climate and the need to preserve our natural resources.
The other changes I’d like to propose to the Constitution would be to strengthen the Constitutional Commissions like the Commission on Human Rights so that it would have the ‘teeth’ to protect victims of rights abuses and enforce laws that protect our civil, political and human rights.
Strengthening the Office of the Ombudsman would also be my priority. I’d like to have the Ombudsman selected not by Presidential appointment so as to achieve more independence and impartiality in doing its job of going after erring and corrupt officials.
Luckily, the minority bloc of the Consultative Commission called by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo produced a more acceptable draft of a new Constitution, one that opposes the creation of a Parliamentary government thus avoiding the further consolidation of political and economic power in the ruling elite of our society.
The important features of their draft Constitution that I find acceptable are:
- Incorporation of the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights into the Bill of Rights
- Radical reform of the Judiciary for efficiency and stability in the law
- Strengthening of the Commission on Human Rights and Ombudsman
It starkly differs from the majority version which was what has been pushed by the Arroyo administration since 2005 which focuses more on setting up a Parliamentary government and opening up our economy to foreigners.
I don’t know whom among my classmates would advocate the same proposals. What interests me is their reasoning and of course, how they would stand up to my opposition. Nonetheless it would be a fun and an enlightening exercise. Hopefully, we would be able to finish the revision on time and present a draft Constitution for the public’s consumption so that when the talk focuses once more on Charter Change, we Political Science students of DLSU-D would have given a valuable share in the national debate.