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THE Duterte Administration and its minions in Congress welcomed the New Year with an announcement that they will “amend” the Philippine Constitution.

Apparently, the process is being done hurriedly.

In constitutional democracies, Constitution is the supreme law that defines and governs the relations between the government and the people.

As public discussions on the plan begin, the following have been observed by “On My Watch”:

•The proponents have not finalized the documents, but central to their statements is they want to replace the current system of government into a parliamentary type under a federal form.

•The plan is not merely amendment.

Apparently, they want to replace the existing 1987 Constitution with a new one which they might call “Philippine Federal Constitution.”

•There will be “Transitory Provisions,” which, among others, will provide when the next elections will be and when the term of office of those to be elected will expire.

In theory, Transitory Provisions of a Constitution are intended to serve the specialized needs and conditions prevailing at the time of the fundamental law’s enactment.

(But usually, according to the wishes of those in power [in this case, Duterte & company] and in all likelihood, according to their interests.)

Why will they change it in the first place?

•Congress wants to constitute itself into a Constituent or Constitutional Assembly and draft the new Constitution for eventual ratification by the Filipino people by direct voting (hopefully not by raising of hands).

It is our modest opinion that there is no compelling reason or reasons to change or replace the existing Philippine Constitution.

What they need is, perhaps, values formation which will lead to revolution of the heart and mind on the part of certain officials.

That is more difficult than replacing the basic document.

The enforced Constitution of the Philippines was drafted and framed by a group of truly patriotic Filipinos, like Cecilia Munoz Palma, Ambrosio Padilla, Blas F. Ople, who were elected into a Constitutional Convention by Filipinos and, obviously, did their work without self-interests, but interests of the country, in mind.


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Let me conclude with a stanza from Longfellow:

The nearer the dawn the darker the night, And by going wrong all things come right; Things have been mended that were worse, And the worse, the nearer they are to mend.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What can be done?

In September 1997, some 600,000 Filipinos trooped to Luneta — in protest over then President Fidel Ramos’ proposed charter changes (dubbed as Cha-Cha), which, included an extension of Ramos’ stay in power.

Another 400,000 converged in urban places around the country, including Davao City and simultaneously expressed their indignation and disapproval of Ramos’ intentions.

Cory Aquino teamed up with Cardinal Sin and they succeeded and foiled a Ramos Cha-Cha.

FVR respected the voice of the people.

Here comes the 2018 Duterte Cha-Cha.

It will seek to change the framework by which the Philippine Government operates.

It also mentions about extending terms of offices of incumbents, among other proposals.

Filipinos could do the same as was done in 1997, except that, this time, they cannot expect the CBCP to be their spokesperson because it is now led by a bishop who is a close friend of President Duterte, Bishop Romulo Valles, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Davao City.

But, the good bishop could be a good link to the President.

It’s good to note that Filipino opposition senators, Filipino millennials (both in the Philippines and abroad), certain bishops and concerned Filipinos in social media have started to form an informal coalition against the proposed Duterte Cha-Cha.

This is also a big challenge to Filipinos in America and elsewhere in the world.

No matter how good the intentions are of a constitutional change, if there are self-serving features, like term extension, the people should condemn and disapprove them.


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Oprah for president?

Oprah Winfrey hit a home run the other night with her nine-minute rousing speech about women empowerment after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards.

In a room filled with big Hollywood names, she was given a standing ovation three times.

She condemned the abuses that women get subjected to in society in the hands of some men.

Oprah also said at one point, “I value the press more than ever before...because speaking the truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

The talk about Oprah, a Democrat, running for president in the next presidential elections, was revived.

Let’s remember, though, that one speech does not make a president of this country.

The presidency, as we have observed these past year-and-a-half, requires much more.


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Personal

Happy Birthday to two persons dear to me.

They are Araceli “Che” Abellar (pictured above) and Hazel Joy Ramos (pictured below).

Best to both.

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