It's been 23 years since Cory's ass-sungots (assembly of ingots) last tinkered with our Constitution, inserting provisions they claimed to have leveled the playing field right after the Marcos dictatorship that virtually left the country in misery after the massive plundering by the strongman and his minions.
Understandably, the 1986 Constitution endeared Cory not only to the masses but also to the select few with whom the dictatorship has wronged. These select few would, of course, include the Lopezes who were able to stage a comeback only after the vestiges of dictatorship had been cleared. Or, were they really ever cleared? Not only these people came back; they also expanded far and wide beyond our imagination. It's back to business, and big business at that.
But why change the Constitution?
Overall, the 1986 version seems to be working just fine. But for whom?
Okay, by changing the charter, it simply calls for tinkering/fine tuning only some of its provision that are deemed outdated and tend to favor particular minority interests to the detriment of the majority.
One case in point is the blatant disregard of the separation between church and state. We all know what the church has been doing all these years and what our political leaders have not been doing all these years. I believe that provision there is a nuisance if not a silly joke because it is never adhered to. We can always argue that we have the best law, or the best Constitution for that matter; yet we also have the worst implementation/implementers of such laws. Which is which?
(photo courtesy of artfromthesoul.com)
Which brings me to my second point. Remember the proposal of Gringo and Flavier before of taxing the church. I may not have the record or evidence to prove but businesses owned and controlled by the church rake in millions, if not billions, every year. Where do all the monies go? Not the coffers of the national treasury, of course, but to their Vatican accounts. Let us do the math here: think of how much De La Salle, University of Asia and the Pacific, Ateneo de Manila, and University of Santo Tomas make each year from those expensive tuition and fees they charge each student? How much of that money is actually returned to the taxpayers, who pay for their access roads, foot bridges, and even security? How much of it is remitted to Benedict XVI?
That no institution would survive these days by giving away its services for free is not an argument. The argument really is: How much does an institution invest on social development? Is it enough to transform lives and communities? We do not have an accounting of their investments, thanks to that constitutional provision prohibiting taxing on church businesses cleverly disguised as social services which by decent definition should be very affordable, if not totally free.
Another important change in the Constitution has to do with population. Again, the influence of the church and its robed flock seem to scare politicians to hell to debate on the merits of a sensible and strong population management program. In this republic, we can only count with our fingers politicians, nay leaders, who can square off with a minister on contraceptives and other means of reducing population. But all these really lead us back to that provision on separation of church and state, which goes like this: What is good for the church is good for the government, and the country for that matter; what is good for the government is not necessarily beneficial to the church.
That is what is going on here and now. And it's been going on since the invention of commerce.
What is more crippling is the inability (or total disability) of our leaders to stand up to this medievalization. And of course, the 1986 Constitution had, in two decades, spawned a new class of vampires, err, oligarchs who have been sucking the resources of this country as if they never run dry. These are the very vampires who are against changing their enviable lifestyle as guaranteed by the Cory Constitution.
Other than these points, I believe the Constitution is still worth adhering to. Term limits? No. In fact, the term limit for a president should be shortened to, maybe, four years. A shorter term limit puts pressure to deliver, and save the country from a collective heart attack over the misdeeds of whoever is in power.
Business and land ownership? Well, when the framers of the 1986 Constitution were debating and deliberating, there was no Internet yet. No Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, etc. So, their definition of strategic interests were mainly confined to the old bastion of agriculture and its related industries. But big business, rather global business, has always a way of encroaching into protected domains for and in the name of profit.
Part of being Pinoy is to accept the truth and the fact that many companies doing small, medium, and big business earning small, medium, and huge profits everyday are dummies.
How do we manage this? Maybe the anti-Dummy law can handle this? Of course, only partly. The ever growing and hugely profitable dummy phenomenon is guaranteed by the Constitution through its tacit approval in liberalizing sectors in the name of investments that are admittedly hard to come by these days.
Who defines what is strategic and therefore off-limits to liberalization. Man, who else, but the same vampires we identified earlier.
It's really a no-brainer. Change the Constitution to get rid of these suckers! This is the long and short of it.