Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sangil: Charter change? Nah!

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Again? In the dying months of the Duterte administration? The move is widely criticized. I join the chorus who are against the move to change the charter. Why so suddenly charter change became high in the menu of congress? Bad timing again, may I say so. I am emphatic here. Why ask people to consider charter change when the country is still gripped with fear because of the spreading coronavirus? Besides many sectors are apprehensive that beyond what is being promised that only the party list system and economic provisions will be introduced, the none gullible among us quickly disagreed. Sorry to say but credibility of congress is exceedingly low. Who can stop them from postponing the 2022 elections once the cha cha moves start? Once plenary debates will start, everything goes.

Many can’t understand this latest move. I have the strong belief that there will be no charter change that will succeed even Duterte’s people will muster all their strength in this one year and half of him in Malacanang? Time run out already. The first four years were wasted. If at all it was done, it should have been in the first two years of Duterte administration. Not now. ‘You all dropped the ball’.

There’s really a need for a charter change because many of its outdated provisions need amendments. Correct, the party system for one. The multi-party is another one. The two systems are too confusing. Let’s tackle the political system. I grew up knowing two political parties in our country, the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party. Our political system copied the two-party system of the United States of America. The counterparts in the USA are the Republican Party aka GOP (Grand Old Party) now headed by people like Donald Trump, Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and many known American political figures. The Democratic Party is led by heavyweights president-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Retro: There was a time when the voting age in our country was 21 but later on congress lowered it to 18. Curiously, I asked a few eighteeners to name at least two political parties now accredited by our Commission on Elections (Comelec). I got blank answers. Those above 21 whom I queried mentioned the Liberal Party and the Nacionalista Party. The Liberal Party (LP) is one of the oldest extant political parties in the country and pride itself with big names like Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino and Diosdado P. Macapagal. It was founded after the war, sometime in 1945. And the oldest party is the Nacionalista Party (NP) which was founded in 1907. The NP was the ruling party from 1935 to 1944 and was headed by President Manuel L. Quezon till the war broke out. Quezon took the submarine with General Douglas Macarthur for the United States via Australia and left the country and the party under the care of Sergio Osmena Sr.

The NP big guns include former Presidents Ramon Magsaysay of Zambales, Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol, Ferdinand E. Marcos of Ilocos Norte and Claro M. Recto of Batangas. One national figure coming from Pampanga was the late Senator Gil J. Puyat of Guagua who became senate president. The late Rafael L. Lazatin of Angeles City and the late Congressman Igmidio Bondoc were the last known prominent members of the party coming from Pampanga.

The leaderships of this country changed hands from stalwarts of these two parties. No political figure during those years can become president unless they belong either to the NP or LP. I remember I was still in high school when Raul Manglapus, a brilliant senator run as an independent candidate and assembled prominent names in his senatorial slate and all of them failed to get the approval of the electorates.

When President Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972, the political system was overhauled and the multi-party system was born later. Today we can no longer count with our fingers the number of political parties nationwide, and more so if we include the local parties that mushroomed in most provinces. Our political system became chopsuey. With the party list system, the population of the lower House of Representatives ballooned from the 104 members in the late sixties to more than 300 members now. There is a considerable view that the party list system is only an added cost shouldered by taxpayers' money. And by the looks of it, the additional party list members are enjoying the perks, and no way they will budge from their seats.


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