Friday, June 16, 2006

Why I Think Cha-Cha Will Succeed

I believe that Speaker Joe de Venecia’s efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution will eventually succeed for two reasons. One, the "sweeteners" being offered to politicians are too enticing even for the most rabid opposition leaders to resist. Consider the following "sweeteners" being dangled to them:

1. Automatic term extensions for all incumbent officials.
This means no elections in 2007. All elected officials get to
stay at their current posts in an interim manner until a new
Charter is enacted. This administration proposal is quite ironic
because it will benefit opposition leaders like Senator Franklin
Drilon and Congressman Rolex Suplico who are both on their last
terms and are finding that Iloilo is currently too crowded for
2. No term limits. Under the new Constitution being
proposed, term limits will no longer be in force which would
allow politicians (at least theoretically) to occupy a public
office for life.
3. 5-year tenures for all elective posts. This proposal to
increase tenures for all posts from 3 years to 5 years is very
popular among politicians. Local officials often complain that 3
years is too short a time to implement programs. And elections
also are becoming too expensive that one needs a little more time
to "prepare" for it.

These three "sweeteners" have convinced majority of our congressmen, governors and mayors to support Charter Change irregardless of their party affiliations. On the other side are the few senators and some leftist party-list groups who are opposing efforts to tinker with our present Constitution simply because it seeks to abolish their institutional existence. Cha Cha therefore is merely a battle of conflicting self-interests. And in this type of battle, the one with the most number of supporters wins.

Secondly, majority of our people just do not care anymore. The middle-class would rather concentrate on their own businesses or jobs rather than join protest rallies against Cha Cha. The masa, as usual, have no opinion on the matter and are preoccupied with their day-to-day existence. Sure there are surveys and studies pointing out that the people do not want Charter Change but administration political operators are confident that they could influence public opinion towards supporting their goal. Sigaw ng Bayan hacks are even proclaiming that they have the requisite number of signatures already. Hell, they were able to pull off a GMA victory over the immensely popular FPJ. They will be able to pull this one off with their eyes closed.

The only reason Cha Cha is not progressing as it should is the mixed signals coming from Malacañang and the Supreme Court decision finding a People’s Initiative illegal because of the absence of an enabling law. GMA’s support for Cha Cha can be best described as "sala sa init, sala sa lamig." No one knows for sure what is going on in her mind and pundits are currently puzzled on why the "People’s Initiative" initiative is once again being revived. Administration legal scholars have also yet to provide a plausible strategy on how to get around the Supreme Court ruling. One solution is for Congress to enact the enabling law but this would take time. It may not also pass muster in the Senate.
But once those two obstacles are done away with, you can be sure that we will have a new Constitution by Christmas next year.


Jay Javines said...

Whether the sweetener is Equal or Nutri-sweet, so long as it is not bad to one's political health...Laklak lang ng laklak hehehe

Dennis Gonzalez said...

Another Rational Choice on Charter Change
by Dennis T. Gonzalez, PhD

Besides a constitutional convention, another rational choice to obtain charter change is through a constituent assembly right after the 2007 elections, as long as the major parties and the candidates make their stands on change through a constituent assembly a major issue in the campaign. Thus, those who will win legislative seats on this platform can truly say that they have the mandate and trust of their constituents to turn the next Congress into a constituent assembly, which does tend to be more economical and efficient than
a constitutional convention. Given our flawed systems of governance, charter change is indeed necessary perhaps within 10 years, but it is too important to
be done with seeming haste especially by those legislators who did not explicitly campaign for it in the 2004 elections.