Is it time to Cha-Cha?

For several times, we rejected the proposal to amend our constitution out of fears of ‘hidden motives’ that are already widely discussed. Whether the ‘fears’ had basis or not, those were not important. The past proposals were all archived for ‘good’.

During the Ramos administration (in 1997), we witnessed the first attempt to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The proposed amendments became very popular as Charter Change or “Cha-Cha.” Criticism stormed the proposal. It never prospered, of course.

Ousted president, Joseph Estrada had also his own version of Cha-Cha called Constitutional Correction for Development (CONCORD). Again, it never got much support. Unlike the previous proposal, CONCORD was more attractive because of the keyword, “economy”.

In 2005, then Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. led several congressmen in pursuing a move to amend the Constitution through the Constituent Assembly. Once again, criticism rained the proposal. On December 2006, de Venecia declared, “Con-ass [constituent assembly] initiative is now dead.” [1]

In April 2008, 11 Senators (It increases to 16.) backed Joint Resolution No. 10 – a new tune of old Cha-Cha. The lower house expressed support as long as the change is after 2010. The keyword “Federalism” excites many.

Now, Cha-Cha is no longer danced – it becomes talk of the town. Is this the right time to Cha-Cha?

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Shift to Federalism

With savory “promises” that it will “spur economic growth”, eleven senators filed Joint Resolution No. 10 “proposing the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary-federal system of government”.

The resolution proposed the creation of 11 federal states and one federal administrative region. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban), the principal author of Joint Resolution No. 10, said, the move to federalize the country is not simply a ‘political’ undertaking. It is also an economic effort. By creating 11 federal states and by converting Metro Manila as a federal administrative region, we immediately establish 12 centers of power, finance and development throughout the country. [1]

The proposal is meant to accomplish two main goals, according to Sen. Pimentel:

  1. Cause the speedy development of the entire country by unleashing the forces of competitiveness among the component federal states, and
  2. Dissipate the causes of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

The plan to shift to parliamentary-federal system of government becomes an instant talk of the town. Many expressed excitement over the matter while few have some reservations.

This change is vital for our Republic, the April 26 editorial of The Manila Times noted. [2] While Senators Panfilo Lacson and Loren Legarda have expressed reservations on the matter, The Daily Tribune reported. [3]

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