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Why the rush to Cha-Cha?

I can’t dance, so why am I being pressured into Charter change? 

That’s the feeling I get when I see how far along this administration has gone on the road toward overhauling the 1987 Constitution. Many lawyers and other types of experts have taken the issue to bits; I defer to their specific knowledge and encourage everyone to do their own research on the matter. 

The upshot is that there are some provisions in the draft that are objectionable, among them the clause where the phrase “human rights” is dropped as one of the obligations of the State and replaced by a phrase referring to due process. 

That in itself is a joke because this administration has made a mockery of due process in its harsh implementation of the drug war, which has murdered thousands of the poor while giving police protection to someone identified with the bigtime smuggling of drugs. 

Setting aside the line-by-line criticism of the draft, as a citizen of this country I am concerned by the rush to change the constitution and transform the country into a federal state when there are more pressing problems that have not been resolved. 

Among these issues are a flagging economy, adverse effects of the TRAIN law including galloping inflation and increased prices of basic commodities, unqualified people in sensitive government positions—need we go on?

Moreover, the majority of Filipinos are opposed to Charter change and federalism at this time, according to a recent Pulse Asia survey. Two out of three Filipinos are against Cha-Cha, or 67 percent of 1,800 respondents. Regarding federalism, 62 percent are against and 34 percent said that the present system of government should not be changed “now or any other time.”

This administration’s fast-tracking of Charter change is a red flag. It smacks of abuse of authority and power. For instance, the proposed federal constitution allows the president to run for two more four-year terms. 

No less than the country’s chief economist as well as a slew of other experts have warned against shifting to federalism at this time.  The Cha-Cha seems nothing less than a ploy to extend term limits of officials and the perpetuation of family dynasties in politics, a phenomenon that a recent study showed retards economic development in the regions where dynasties prevail.

Let’s not get roped into this politicians’ dance.                

* * *

Here’s a funny thing—one of the 22 constitutional commission delegates blocked me from his Twitter account. I did not comment on any of his posts, but I may have liked a post from a veteran journalist who was arguing with him about the draft. Was I blocked for liking someone else’s post? If not for that, then what for? Are you hiding something from me? (Hihihi.) 

Not that I can’t see his posts at all —there are workarounds for that. But blocking an individual sends a strong signal of “I don’t like you.” Coming from a university professor and subject matter expert whose job is to educate people, that’s eyebrow raising and not quite professional.

Of course in social media you can block anyone you want to with no need to justify why. It’s your account, your rules. Similarly, I have the right to block anyone from my own social media accounts. The reasons for doing so are myriad—to avoid bullying, for peace of mind, and so on. 

The thing is, you don’t get anywhere in journalism, academe, and government by being thin-skinned and over-sensitive. That’s why I don’t block my critics, including those who are obviously trolls. The ad hominem insults, fallacies of logic, and sheer stupidity of cowards who cower behind usernames are simply hilarious and make for interesting stories over dinner. 

Dr. Ortuoste, a writer and researcher, has a PhD in Communication. FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

Topics: Charter change , 1987 Constitution , TRAIN law , Pulse Asia
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