It is a public knowledge that the present Arroyo administration is in the struggle of spreading their rhetorical intentions to the people on their proposal for a change in the charter. Charter change also known as cha-cha (also a homonym for a famous frivolous dance which trivializes a solemn democratic function) is sought to be the manner in the re-examination and change of the supreme law of the land.
The Cha-cha would revise the charter by replacing the entire presidential form of government with a parliamentary system that would displace the major attribute of the present regime. This is the dogma on the separation of powers among the three primary branches of our government (executive, legislative, and judiciary)which makes them independent with and among each other, thus subject to the corollary idea of checks and balances.
As what I’ve read from articles and learned from educational discussions about this issue, the change proposed by the Cha-cha is not an isolated amendment of the constitution, affecting only a few provisions without touching the rest of the document, thus would keep its provisions intact. An example of this amendment would be a re-drafting of Art. VII, Sec. 4 changing the term of office of the President of the Philippines from six years without re-election to four years with one re-election. The other parts of the constitution such as in Art VIII on the judiciary department require a revision of the constitution not just a mere amendment like with the case mentioned above. In this matter, this would mean a massive reorganization of the government – the abolition of the presidential system and the substitution with a parliamentary system – which would entail a risk on the adoption of a new form of government.
Unlike the corresponding articles in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions which were both entitled “Amendments,” Art XVII of the 1987 Constitution is entitled “Amendments or Revisions”. Our present constitution specifies the distinction between the two kinds of changes and cites the method to realize them. Sec 1 of the same Article says that congress or a constitutional convention may amend or revise the constitution. Sec 2 says that only amendments may be made by the people through initiative.
If Art XVII had intended the initiative to be also used for revising the Constitution, it would have said so explicitly. It did not. Instead it says that both the amendment and revision can be done by the congress or a constitutional convention, not mentioning the initiative. Sec 2, on the other hand, authorizes the initiative to make amendments of the constitution if deemed necessary, not mentioning anything about the initiative’s power for revision.
Revision is required to be done by the Congress or a constitutional convention as this would need a great expertise to handle this. The Congress or a con-con are presumed to be knowledgeable than the random voters who qualify for the initiative in terms of constitution-making Amendment, by contrast, does not necessarily involve complicated changes so the citizens in general are allowed to participate in such event despite their lack of knowledge in this field.
The dancers of Cha-cha should stop the teaching their audiences false steps. They should abandon their carnival sideshow and should stop deceiving the people with their pious declaration on patriotism, kuno.