Sangil: Charter change is coming

THE commentaries are now focused on the possible scenario of no elections in 2019. The Mindanao leaders led by President Duterte, Senate President Koko Pimentel and House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were able to create a super majority. As observed, they can do whatever they want with their numbers both in the Senate and in the House. But of course, they would only march on the roll of the drums of Duterte. That’s for sure.

They can extend terms. The senators and congressmen can keep their seats. The shift from the unitary government to a federal one is a sure thing. It’s an irreversible direction. Removing the Office of the Vice President is another item in the agenda. In the transitory provision of the renovated charter, they can push for a 10-year transition period. In the meantime, everyone remain seated and just allow the President to replace anyone who is stubborn. If that’s what the President wants, the solons will have to follow. It’s a carrot and stick thing, as shown by Alvarez to those who defy.

Seemingly obvious now, there will be a charter change this year. May I throw in some suggestions, if charter change is a sure thing? Let me point out that there was a time in the political history of our country where elections were held every four years on the month of November. A president is eligible with one reelection, and that's it. For other officials, there was no term limit. Senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and down the line, can run for reelection. One can hold office as long as you win the elections.

Why in heaven's name the election month was moved from November to May? Whoever proposed this and whoever agreed to it were not using their "coconut," said my grade one teacher in the primary. The shifting of month unleveled the playing field for candidates. In the month of May, there are the fiestas. The preceding months of May are the occasions for young people to hold basketball tournaments, dance balls and the "pabasa" in almost every sitios during celebration of Holy Week. Solicitation letters are flying thick in the air during the holding of those events. The common targets are those running for public office.

It is a double edge sword that weakens a political system. To get the votes, a candidate has the tendency to overspend, and become a thief to recover the expenditures, and save more for the next elections. Voters are in a way selling their votes for their reason in electing people are those who can donate more on their causes. Never mind qualification and moral background of the candidates.

It was the term limit that spawned the political dynasties in this country. The elected official now who stuffed his pocket and increased the digits in his many bank accounts through his corruption will field the wife or the son or the daughter after finishing his third and final term, and only to trade place in the next elections. It is a cat and mouse game, which should be rectified but apparently the voters are amused. It is reflective of a breakdown in our moral values as a people.

In the early years, people who entered politics were decent, educated and their wealth was from their sweat. Those who didn't have money but were qualified were voted into office because vote buying was not a practice. Many of these wealthy people became poor after they made their political exits.

Not today! Many politicians who were paupers before, but with stroke of luck won political offices are now wealthy beyond their dreams, and are still counting, happy going to their banks, here and abroad. This and many other provisions are needed in the overhaul of the 1987 Corazon Aquino charter.
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