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De La Salle Philippines is a network of Lasallians in the Sector of the Philippines established to facilitate collaboration in the Lasallian Mission and the promotion of the spirit of faith, zeal for service and communion in mission that together, are at the heart of the journey of our Founder, John Baptist de La Salle.

De La Salle Philippines is committed to building up educational communities that demonstrate commitment to young people, especially those who are poor, by providing them with access to a human and Christian education that enables them to participate in the transformation of society.

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CHARTER CHANGE AND FEDERALISM: CRUEL PUNISHMENT FOR A GOD-LOVING PEOPLE*

Marc Gepaya

*Speech of (Ret.) Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. at a Forum on the 1987 Constitution and Proposed Changes, sponsored by the De La Salle Santiago Zobel School, Ayala Alabang, 7 September 2018.


Thank you Jayjay Jacinto for your generous words of introduction. You make my task more difficult.

A very beautiful afternoon to all of you here of De La Salle Santiago Zobel School on this blessed Friday, the seventh of September - the seventh day of the first BER month of the four BER months of Christmas. Your choice of this seventh and this  Friday has tremendous significance in connection with what we shall take up this afternoon.  It is an inspired serendipity.

We know that seven is the most symbolic number in the Holy Bible. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2003 ed., pages 1199-1200), seven symbolizes completeness and perfection, and we find some of them, to wit: God's work of creation was completed in seven days; the seven-day week ending on the Sabbath; the Pharaoh's dream of seven good years and followed by seven years of famine; the seven churches; forgiveness for not merely seven times, but 70 times seven. In our readings too of the New Testament, we find these seven which bring us closer to Jesus to entrust our lives to His Mercy. First, the seven I AM of Jesus according to the Gospel  of St. John:

1.1 Before Abraham came, I am.
1.2 I am the Bread of Life.
1.3 I am the Light of the World.
1.4 I am the Good Shepherd.
1.5 I am the Resurrection and the Life.
1.6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
1.7 I am the True Vine.

Second, we have the Seven Last Words of Jesus while hanging on the Cross.

Third, we should not forget of the seven demons Jesus drove away from Mary Magdalene.

Finally, we have in our Catholic Faith the seven Sacraments.

Then, you decided to have this event on a Friday, and Director Vangie de  Peralta told me that it will start at 3:00 PM. What a coincidence! It was at 3:00 PM on a Friday that Jesus breathed his last on the Cross. Then the time was moved to 3:20 PM.  The change to 3:20 made no difference.  Jesus was still on the Cross.

It is a coincidence that gives more meaning and insights to the topic Director de Peralta ordered me to speak in her email of 25 July. This is the topic: “The 1987 Constitution and Proposed Changes: Benefits and Disbenefits to the Filipino People,” and to include “the Federal Form of Government, the Transitory Provisions the present government is proposing, Territorial Issue against China, and important matters that concern the ChaCha.”

This is the longest and quite a difficult order I ever had so far in connection with the current obsession of the present Administration to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution primarily to, on its face, adopt the Federal system of  government.  However last 4 September, Vangie emailed to my daughter your program and the topic was changed to “A Shift to Federalism? Understanding the Impact of Charter Change.” All told, both the original topic and the revised may develop themselves into either a Christmas of great joy, or to a punishment – a Friday, so to speak – for our country and our people. In the words of the topic, it would either be “benefits” – meaning Christmas – or “disbenefits” (a new word to me) – meaning not just punishment, but cruel and merciless punishment, a Friday.

Of course, one of the most precious Christmas gifts our country and our people had in the aftermath of the People Power revolt of February 1986 was the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. This was drafted by the 1986 Constitutional Commission and overwhelmingly ratified by 77 percent of the electorate who voted in the 2 February 1987 plebiscite. It is a Constitution which faithfully carried out what the sovereign Filipino people, in the Preamble, wanted and for which they implored the aid of the Almighty God: the building of a “just and humane society” and the establishment of a “Government that shall embody (their) ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop (their) patrimony, and secure to (themselves) and (their) posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law, and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.” These are all embodied in the various precepts, ideals, principles, policies and  provisions of this Constitution.

This 1987 Constitution is the best Constitution for our country and our people of our generation and even for the generations yet unborn. Yes, the best even if it is not perfect. Only God is perfect. For, it is the only Constitution we ever had which is pro- God, pro-Filipino, pro-People, pro-Life, pro-Family, pro-Marriage, pro-Poor, pro-Social Justice, pro-Human Rights, pro-Women, pro-Youth, pro-Environment, among many others.

As to it being pro-God, let me at once mention to you that its first sentence (in the Preamble) is an invocation of the aid of Almighty God.  The “regime of truth,  justice, freedom, love, equality and peace” mentioned in the Preamble is based on Psalm 85 (verses 10-14) of the Bible which read:

“Near indeed is salvation for the loyal;
prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss
.
Truth will spring from the earth;
justice will look down from heaven.
The Lord will surely grant abundance;
our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord,
and good fortune will follow behind.”

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary I earlier mentioned informs us that the Bible inscribes:

The word LOVE, 35 times, more or less;
The word TRUTH, 40 times, more or less;
The word JUSTICE, 70 times, more or less;
The world PEACE, 180 times, more or less.

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus Himself says: “This is my new covenant, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12) and “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); and to the Jews who believed in Him, Jesus said: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-42).

God is Justice. Psalm 99:4 says: “O mighty king, lover of Justice, you alone have established fairness.”

In the Gospel according to Luke (2:14) Peace was the angelic promise at Jesus' birth: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests.” And “Peace be with you” was Jesus' first words after His resurrection when He appeared before ten of His disciples who had locked themselves in a room for fear of  the Jews (John 20: 19-21).

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world which proclaims the right to Life from conception (Sec. 12, Article II), thereby prohibiting abortion and the use of contraceptives, for which reason the CBCP and we Catholics fought hard against the RH Bill; prohibiting the re-imposition of the death penalty; and prohibiting extrajudicial killings.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world which devotes one whole Article on Social Justice and Human Rights (Article XIII). On Social Justice, it orders Congress to give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social and economic and political inequalities and remove cultural inequities by equitably diffusing wealth and political power for the common good. On Human Rights, it creates the Commission on Human Rights which is tasked to, among others, investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights and provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons. Of late, this means prevention of extrajudicial killings or summary executions and protection of victims of extrajudicial killings. Per Section 26 of Article II, the abolition of political dynasties is a declared  State policy and Congress is ordered to enact a law to implement it. Until now  Congress has not enacted that law.  We know the reasons why it did not.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that recognizes the sanctity of family life (Sec. 12, Art. II) and devotes one whole Article on the Family (Article XV) which proclaims that the family is the foundation of the nation and that marriage, which is an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family. It commands the State to strengthen the solidarity and actively promote the family's total development. Divorce is thus prohibited.  Same-sex marriage is prohibited.  How tragic it is that the Lower House of Congress of this predominantly Catholic country had approved by an overwhelming majority vote the bill authorizing divorce.  It would not  be surprising if the legalization of same-sex marriage would follow.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world which recognizes the role of the youth in nation-building and directs the State to promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual and intellectual well-being (Sec. 13, Article II).

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that recognizes the role of women in nation-building and commands the State to ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men (Sec. 14, Article II).

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that insures and guarantees an independent Judiciary (Article VIII) and independent Commission on Civil Service, Commission on Audit, and Commission on Elections (Article IX). The Judiciary  is now under siege.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that provides one whole Article - Article XI - on Accountability of Public Officers. Section 1 of this Article solemnly declares that a public office is a public trust and that all government officials and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, and serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. This doctrine enshrines the “servant-leadership” principle which  Jesus Christ Himself instituted as proclaimed (Mark 10:42-45; Matthew 20:25-28; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:12-16).

This Article XI provides for the creation of the anti-graft Court – the Sandiganbayan – and the Office of the Ombudsman. It directs the submission of Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) which Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) implements.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that provides for the effective decentralization of power to establish a strong local autonomy to the various political subdivisions or local governments (autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, barangays). For that purpose, it devotes a whole Article – Article X – entitled Local Government, which is implemented by the 1991 Local Government Code.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution in the world that contains sufficient provisions against abuse of power, guarantee people's active participation in governance, including people power.

Our 1987 Constitution is the first Constitution in the world that expressly recognizes the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with  the rhythm and harmony of nature (Sec. 16, Article II). This provision lies at the heart  of the encyclical letter of Pope Francis LAUDATO SI: CARE OF OUR COMMON HOME, which was promulgated in June of 2015. In the landmark decision of our Supreme Court of 30 July 1993 in the case of Minors Oposa vs. Factoran, et al (G.R. No. 101083 SCRA 224 page 792), this right to a balanced and healthful ecology is nothing less than the right to life itself and to the Sources of Life on this Earth, namely, the Land, the Air and the Water. For this reason we of this generation are but trustees of these Sources of Life for the generations yet unborn.

In this Minors Oposa case, referring to the right to a balanced and healthful ecology, the Supreme Court said:

“Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns nothing less than the right to self-preservation and self- perpetuation... the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions... these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because unless it is written in the Constitution itself, the day would not be too far when all else would be lost not only  for the present but for those to come – generations which would stand to inherit nothing but a parched earth incapable of sustaining life.”

I was the one who wrote for the Supreme Court en banc the decision in this Minors Oposa case.

Our 1987 Constitution is the only Constitution of the Philippines which has remained unamended or unrevised for thirty-one years already, that is, from its ratification in the 2 February 1987 plebiscite. We have had several Constitutions before the 1987 Constitution, the most notable of which were the Malolos Constitution of 1898, the 1935 Constitution, the 1973 Constitution and the 1986 Freedom Constitution promulgated by then President Corazon Aquino after the February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Several attempts had been made to amend our 1987 Constitution. Two of these attempts were quite serious. Both availed of People's Initiative – the third mode of proposing amendments to the Constitution per Section 2 of Article XVII, which is implemented by the Initiative and Referendum Law (Republic Act No. 6735). The first was made in 1997 during the term of then President Fidel V. Ramos. Its purpose was to lift the term limitations of elected officials such as that of the President so that President Ramos could then run for re-election in the elections of May 1998. Under Section 4 of Article VII of the Constitution, “the President shall not be eligible for any re-election.” But, in its decision of 19 March 1997 in Santiago v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 127325, 270 SCRA 106), the Supreme Court en banc declared that the Initiative and Referendum Law as worded is incomplete and insufficient for purposes of the people’s initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution. Hence, the proposal was struck down. I was the ponente or writer of that decision. The second attempt was made during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This time it was to adopt the Parliamentary form of government. As was generally perceived, the purpose was to allow then President Arroyo, who was not eligible for re-election, to continue to hold on to power by being elected under the Parliamentary form as Prime Minister after the end of her term. In its decision of 25 October 2006 in Lambino v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No. 174253, 505 SCRA 160), the Supreme Court frustrated the move in light of its decision in the Santiago v. Commission on Elections case, and, further, it was not processed in accordance with Sec. 2, Article XVII of the Constitution. Until now, Congress has not amended R.A. No. 6735 to cure the defects pointed out by the Supreme Court in its decision in Santiago vs. COMELEC.

In  short,  this  1987  Constitution  has  achieved  an  unsurpassed  record  of permanence.

Permanence, as explained by Justice Isagani Cruz in his book Constitutional Law (2000 ed., page 7), means the capacity of a Constitution “to resist capricious and whimsical change dictated not by legitimate needs but only by passing fancies, temporary passions or occasional infatuations of the people with ideas or personalities.”

If the 1987 Constitution has attained “permanence”, it is primarily because, as I earlier elaborated on, even if it is imperfect – it is the best for our country and our people of our generation and even of the generations yet unborn.

This is also the Constitution which all Presidents solemnly pledge, invoking the help of God, to “preserve and defend” (Sec. 5, Article VII) when they take their oath upon assumption of office. Likewise, it is the Constitution which all elective and appointive officials upon assumption of office solemnly pledge, invoking the help of God, to “uphold and defend” and “to bear true faith and allegiance to” (Book I, Chapter 20, Section 20, Executive Order No. 292).

Modesty aside, I know very well our 1987 Constitution. As one of the Commissioners of the 1986 Constitutional Commission who drafted it, I filed several constitutional reform proposals and introduced innumerable amendments to various provisions which were ultimately incorporated into the final draft. At its plenary session on 12 October 1986 when we voted on the final draft, I ended the explanation of my yes or affirmative vote with this solemn pledge: “This is the Constitution I am willing to die for.” I have reiterated this pledge many times before. I do so now before you.

In about one hundred and fifty (150) instances our 1987 Constitution orders the State or Congress to implement the various State policies and principles, programs, objectives and directives through or by these commands: “Congress shall give highest priority to”; “the State shall'; “Congress shall”; “as provided by law”; “as established by law”; or “in accordance with law”. Among these state policies is  the abolition of  political dynasties (Sec. 26, Article II).

Sadly and unfortunately, however, either intentionally and with evident bad faith, or through palpable neglect of duty or sheer incompetence of our concerned government officials, the State and the Congress have not fully complied with these more or less 150 Constitutional commands or mandates. Hence, a vast majority of the provisions remain unimplemented, to the prejudice of the people, especially the poor, the marginalized, the underprivileged.

On the other hand, violations of the Constitution remain unabated. Consider, for instance, violations of human rights such as the daily extrajudicial killings, violations of the rule of law, of due process, and of the principle that a public office is a public trust; and graft and corruption as evidenced by the thousands of cases now pending before the Sandiganbayan and other courts and before the Office of the Ombudsman, etc., etc.

Sadly and unfortunately, too, only very few of our people know about the Constitution. Recent survey results indicate that only 27% of our population of about 104 million know about the Constitution. This knowing does not even mean of having read or understood the provisions of the Constitution. Only a much fewer number of that 27% may be presumed – I say presumed – to have read it, namely: the lawyers, professors or instructors of law, a very few constitutional law experts, few political scientists and law graduates and law students. It follows – without any proof needed – that the vast majority of our people, meaning the remaining 73% (100% minus the 27%) have not read or even seen the printed copy of the Constitution.

The crying call now or the demands of the hour then is not Charter Change or adoption of Federalism. But, First, a full implementation of the 1987 Constitution with our Senators and Representatives focusing their energies on the enactment of laws in compliance with the more or less 150 constitutional commands I mentioned earlier; Second, for our President to keep and maintain highest fidelity to the oath he took upon assuming office on 30 June 2016. The full text of that oath is prescribed in  Section 5 of Article VII.  For emphasis, let me read it:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation.  So help me God.”

Despite all these, the present Administration wants now to amend to revise or change the 1987 Constitution with the ostensible objective of adopting the Federal system of Government. There was even a mad rush to accomplish it when the Speaker of the House of Representatives was Representative Pantaleon Alvarez who wanted it done by a Constituent Assembly (CONASS) with the Senate and House of Representatives voting jointly. He knew that with a CONASS Charter Change would be as certain as the rising of the sun on the east. He had the super-super majority in the House in view of the massive exodus to his party and the adopting party of the President – the PDP Laban – by many newly-elected Representatives belonging to other parties. The exodus swelled the ranks of the PDP-Laban which only had only three Representatives who won in the elections. Upon the other hand, the Senate now has only 23 members. In a joint voting the Senate and the Senators would be rendered irrelevant. Speaker Alvarez conveniently forgot that the first resolution he filed with Representative Fariñas in the House was a resolution calling for the convening of a Constitutional Convention (CONCON) to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution. The President himself was for a CONCON, but Alvarez was able to convince him for a CONASS on the ground that a CONCON would be expensive. It could cost P7 billion to have it.

In the meantime, in December 2016, the President, by an Executive Order, created a Consultative Committee to study and review the 1987 Constitution with the end in view of adopting a Federal system. But, it was only in February 2018 that the President formally organized the Committee by appointing (Ret.) Chief Justice Reynato Puno as Chairman and 18 others as members. This Consultative Committee promised to finish its task before the State of the Nation (SONA) address of the President on the opening of Congress on the 23rd  of July.

Many months before the Consultative Committee was organized and just yet on the basis of the drafts of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines filed in the House of Representatives, I already publicly denounced on many occasions that the adoption of Federalism is a “lethal experiment, a fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell.” I compared Federalism with the sin (spelled S-I-N) described in Chapter 21, verse 3 of the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament that sin is a “two-edged sword; when it cuts there can be no healing.” Thus, Federalism is a two-edged sword; when it cuts, there can be no healing.

I denounced Charter Change as “chaining the people to a future of tyranny, oppression and injustice, corruption, poverty and penury”; as “a change for the worst; as “a Chacha dance to the grave and to hell.”

I warned that the issue of Charter Change is further dividing our already divided people and reminded my audience that Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (12:25) warns us that “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid to waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand.”

I further warned that Federalism is a Trojan horse, a red herring for with it are the hidden agenda of politicians who want to further perpetuate themselves in power and to amass fortune and fame, which are temptations for a new paradise for them like that Satan himself dangled to Jesus. These hidden agenda are hidden no more, but exposed and brought to light in the drafts of the the Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines filed in the House of Representatives. These are, among others, (1) the adoption of the parliamentary form of Government; (2) extensions of the terms of incumbent elected officials, which would mean the postponement or cancellation of the May 2019 elections; (3) the lifting of term limits as now prescribed  by the Constitution, thereby allowing the President to seek reelection and the others to hold on to power for as many terms they want; (4) increasing the number of years for a term of office of elective positions, such as from the present three years to four years or even five for local officials; (5) providing for a transition period for Federalism which could last for many years with the incumbent President in power; (6) the lifting of the restrictions on the exercise of the Presidential power to proclaim martial law or to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, thereby opening the door to the resurrection of the Marcos dictatorship; and (7) the lifting of the Filipino citizenship requirement in the National Patrimony and economic provisions of the Constitution and leaving everything to Congress under the catch-all clause “unless otherwise  provided by law”. This lifting of the citizenship requirement would end up with the outright surrender of the Philippines to foreigners at no cost to them. It would open further the way for the Philippines becoming a colony of a foreign power, or just a province of China according to the President. I shall later on elaborate on this.

The lifting of this Filipino citizenship requirement would also affect all other pro- Filipino provisions of the Constitution, such as on our marine wealth, which includes our 200-mile exclusive economic zone; on public utilities; on educational institutions; on mass media; and on advertising.

More yet to this lifting. In the various Charter Change proposals in the Lower House, new States or Regions composing the Federal Government will have control and administration of the exploitation, development and utilization of the natural resources within their respective territorial jurisdiction. Entry into these natural wealth by foreign business conglomerates would be inevitable, and even easier yet because it would be far easier for them to deal with the State or Regional legislatures and Governors and other officials.

Let me go back to Federalism. Forthwith, I say that it is not for our country and our people because:

One, only the Unitary system is best suited for our country's history, culture, traditions, hopes, dreams and aspirations. It has been with us for at least 120 years since we attained our independence from Spain on 12 June 1898. It has ruled and guided our political institutions and defined our social, economic, cultural and even spiritual life.  It is the system that lies at the bedrock of our 1987 Constitution.

Second, upon the other hand federalism has never been tested or tried in our country and by our people. It is a complete stranger. It is not the instant new messiah to save our country and our people. We must remember that in the history of salvation of Israel it took forty-two (42) generations before the Messiah, the Savior – Jesus Christ – was born. In the account of the Genealogy of Jesus per the Gospel of Matthew (1:2:17), from Abraham to King David, there were fourteen generations; from King David to the Babylonian Exile, there were fourteen generations; and from the Babylonian Exile to the Birth of Jesus, there were fourteen generations. These three  sets of fourteen generations each total forty-two generations. Federalism can never be an instant messiah.  It can never save our people.

Third, the process sought to be adopted for the shift to Federalism is an anomalous deviation from the historical and traditional mode of forming Federal States or governments. Under this historical and traditional mode, a Federal government is compact between two or more states, to become united under one central government (Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., p. 610). Thus, the original separate sovereign states would become component states of the Federal government. As proposed, the Federal government in the Philippines will be erected by the splitting or the dividing of our country into various States or Regions. In the Lower House there are proposals for 12 States, 5 States and 18 Regions. They would be placed between the central  government and the present territorial and political subdivisions or local government units. As I will later point out, the draft Constitution prepared by the Consultative Committee breaks up our country into eighteen Federated Regions.

Fourth, worse yet, even the pro-Federalism propagandists do not exactly know the Federalism they want adopted, how it works and whether it is in fact the best. The Federalism they have in mind is still in the imagination. Confirming this fact is that during the inaugural session on 19 February2018 of the Consultative Committee, the Chairman, (Ret.) Chief Justice Reynato Puno strongly exhorted and urged the members to devote serious thought on the “architectural design” of a Federal system “distinctly Filipino” (Manila Bulletin, 20 February 2018). This simply means that, indeed, the contemplated Federal system is still in the imagination. Since it is to be “distinctly Filipino” it would have no model in mind, like the Federal system of the United States, Germany, Canada, and the Russian Federation, or even other lesser known states with Federal system. If you recall, even the President mentioned of a hybrid Federalism like that, according to him, of China and Hongkong. The President could just be joking.

We expected then that what the Consultative Committee would recommend would be a Federal system which is “distinctly Filipino”, which on the ground would  work the “Federal” way.

But what the Consultative Committee produced is not just a Federal Republic of the Philippines thru the division, breaking up, partitioning, splitting, dismembering of  the one united nation known as the Philippines into eighteen (18) Federated Regions composed of the sixteen (16) existing Administrative Regions and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Federated Region of the Cordilleras, with the provisions that would strictly adhere to the traditional Federal set-up.  The Committee went beyond  and farther yet. It overhauled our 1987 Constitution through massive re-structuring, reorganization, revamp or surgery. In the process, it even incorporated undemocratic provisions, principles, and concepts spiced with some elements of fascism and totalitarianism. It builds a dictatorship. It erects a weak democracy, made weaker yet by elitism and the creation of more feudal states which would ultimately be easily controlled by political dynasties. It is anti-Filipino, anti-people, anti-poor.

Let me first show you how this draft Constitution looks like. If approved, it would be the longest Constitution the Philippines will ever have. It has twenty-two (22) Articles, excluding the Preamble. Our 1987 Constitution has only eighteen (18) Articles.

It is contained in 105 pages of short bond paper, excluding two unnumbered pages for the signatures of the Chairman and the members, written single-space in very fine print or font. This does not yet include two Ordinances to be appended to it, namely, (1) the Ordinance on the composition of the Federated plus the Regions and (2) the Ordinance consisting of the Organic Act of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region approved by the President and ratified by the people concerned. With these Ordinances, the Constitution would be four or five times longer.

In any overhauling, reorganization, restructuring, revamp or surgery of the Government, especially if done thru revision of the Constitution or Charter Change, institutions and people have to be sacrificed either because the proposed new Constitution abolishes the institutions or positions to which they were elected or appointed, or they are to be reorganized out.

Among those sacrificed by abolition are the Local Government Units (LGUs) and all the officials elected or appointed to these LGUs.

I call this the Massacre of the LGUs. I extensively talked about this massacre before the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines during its national assembly last 3 August.

As you can see the draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee, even if it has four more Articles than our present 1987 Constitution, does not reproduce, wholly or even partly, Article X on LOCAL GOVERNMENT of the latter. This Article X of our 1987 Constitution implements and enforces Section 25 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution – the Article on Declaration of Principles and State Policies – which states:

The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.”

The draft Consultative Committee Constitution has replaced Article X (Local Government) of the 1987 Constitution with a new one, Article XI, entitled FEDERATED REGIONS, THE BANGSA-MORO, AND THE FEDERATED REGION OF THE CORDILLERAS. This Article XI of the draft does not speak anymore of the territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic, namely, the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays defined in Section 1 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution. It does not mention or make reference to the 1991 Local Government Code.

This draft Constitution does not at all mention of the guarantee under Section 6 of Article X of the present Constitution that the Local Government Units shall have a just share in the national taxes, etc. and the guarantee under Section 7 thereof of the LGUs' equitable share in the proceeds of the utilization and development of the natural wealth, etc. In the draft Constitution, the shares are given to the Federated Regions. The withdrawal of these shares from the Local Government Units is the best proof of  the falsehoods of the enticements and representations (or misre-presentations) deliberately made by the pro-Federalism propagandists that under the Federal system the Local Government Units would receive more in terms of funds and resources or shares of taxes from the Central Federal Government. The falsehoods or lies are now exposed in Sections 4 and 7 of Article XIII (Fiscal Powers and Financial Administration) of the draft Constitution.  Section 4 reads:

“The Federal Region shall be given a share of not less than fifty percent (50%) of all collected income taxes, excise taxes, value added tax, and customs duties, which shall be equally divided among them and automatically released.”

This means that the 50% share will be divided equally among the eighteen (18) Federated Regions. In short, each of the 18 would only get more or less 3%. The  LGUs get nothing.

Section 7 provides:

“The Federated Regions shall be entitled to fifty percent (50%), of all net revenues derived from the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources within their territory.”

Nothing too is given to the existing Local Government units.

Article XII on Distribution of Powers of the Government of the draft Constitution does not at all mention of powers of the Local Government Units, but only of the Federal Government and of the Federated Regions.

Under Section 2 of this Article XII of the draft Constitution, among the exclusive powers of the Federated Regions is over “local government units”. This simply means that the LGUs would only be slaves of the Federated Regions.

What is so painful about this massacre of the LGUs is that the draft Constitution was approved by the Consultative Committee on the very day (3 July) when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision n the case of Mandanas vs. Executive Secretary which declared that the shares of the LGUs in taxes are not limited to internal revenue taxes, but to all national taxes. As estimated by Secretary Dominguez of the Department of Finance, if computed from 1992 – the effective date of the 1991 Local Government Code, the national government owed P1.3 trillion to the LGUs in terms of national taxes withheld from them.

The only hope of the Local Government Units would be hope in the mercy of the Federal Congress. This Congress is authorized in Section 1 of Article XI (Federated Regions, The Bangsamoro and the Federated Region of the Cordilleras) of the Consultative Committee draft Constitution to, “by law, create, abolish, merge, and  divide the Regions and determine their constituent political subdivisions, subject to the ratification by the people in a referendum held for the purpose in the political subdivisions affected”. Take note of “determine their constituent political subdivision”. This clearly refers to the Local Government Units.

The second to suffer massive revamp or surgery under this draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee is the Judiciary.

Under the draft there will be two justice systems and two judiciaries, namely: the Federal Justice system and the Regional Justice system; and the Federal Judiciary and the Regional Judiciary. Under Section 2 of Article XII of the draft Constitution the Federated Regions, within its regional territory, have exclusive powers over, among others, “the justice system.” Under Section 22-C (The Regional Judiciary) of Article XI, the Regional Assembly “shall provide for a Regional Supreme Court, Regional Appellate Court, Regional Trial Courts and such lower courts and special courts in component provinces, cities, and municipalities and define their jurisdiction in accordance with the Constitution.” The Federated Regions can pass laws, including penal laws. Thus there will be regional laws and regional crimes, in addition to the Federal laws and Federal crimes.

On the Federal level, the draft Constitution creates four Federal Highest Courts, namely: Federal Supreme Court, Federal Constitutional Court, Federal Administrative Court and Federal Electoral Court. The first three would be composed of a Chief Justice and Eight (8) Associate Justices, and the last – the Federal Electoral Court – would be composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen (14) Associate Justices. Then there would be Eighteen (18) Federal Courts of Appeals, with one in each Federated Region; One (1) Federal Trial Court in each province.

Nothing is mentioned of the existing Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and the present first and second level courts. At the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes last 17 July, I inquired from  former Senate President Nene Pimentel, a member of the Consultative Committee, why these appellate courts are not at all mentioned in the draft Constitution. His answer was that these courts are considered lower courts in the draft.

Thus, under the draft Constitution, at any given time and simultaneously, there will be four (4) Chief Justices (one each in the four highest Federal Courts); and eighteen Chief Justices in the Federated Regions (one each per Region); thirty-eight (38) Associate Justices in the four highest Federal Courts; eighteen Associate Justices of the Federal Court of Appeals (one each per Region), and as many Associate Justices in the Regional Supreme Court and Regional Court of Appeals as may be fixed by the Regional Assembly.

The creation of the Federal Constitutional Court, Federal Administrative Court,  and Federal Electoral Court is unnecessary and would only complicate our justice system, and diminishes and weakens the historic dignity of the single highest court –  the Supreme Court. It shall now be composed of only a Chief Justice and eight  Associate Justices appointed for a term of twelve years, with seventy as the mandatory age of retirement. The process of their appointment is most unusual and  would seriously affect the independence of the Court and would subject it to political pressure and interference. Take note that of the nine members of the Court, the Chief Justice  and two Associate Justices shall be appointed by the President, three by the Commission on Appointments, and three by the Federal Constitutional Court.

On the other hand the Chief Justice and two Associate Justices of the Federal Constitutional Court shall be appointed by the President, three by the Commission on Appointments, and three by the Federal Supreme Court.

Political interference and pressures would be unavoidable because the President and the Members of the Commission on Appointments are politicians.

In addition, removal of the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices for every impeachable offense would be far easier. Under the consultative  Committee Constitution, a joint Impeachment Committee headed by the President of the Senate and twelve each from the Federal Senate and House of Representatives is created. A complaint for impeachment against the Chief Justice and Associate Justices shall be  filed with the Committee, which shall determine whether the complaint is sufficient in form and substance. Thereafter it will determine if a probable cause exists. If there is, it will prepare the Articles of Impeachment which shall then be filed with the Federal Constitutional Court. This Court has the exclusive authority to try and decide the case. A vote of six (6) members of the Federal Constitutional Court would be necessary to convict the respondent. If impeachment is against the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Administrative Court will have jurisdiction to try and decide the case.

In light of the quo warranto decision of the Supreme Court in the quo warranto case against former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes P. Sereno, the Chief Justice and the Associate  Justices  of  the  Supreme  Court  may  still  be  ousted  from  office  via quo warranto.

As regards appointments to the Judiciary and disciplining of judges – a Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council is created. The JBC is abolished. The Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council is composed of eleven (11) ex-officio members and four (4) regular members.

The 11 ex-officio members are: (1) Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court; (2) Chief Justice of the Federal Constitutional Court; (3) Chief Justice of the Federal Administrative Court; (4) Chief Justice of the Federal Electoral Court; (5) Chairperson of the Federal Ombudsman Commission; (6) Court Administrator of the Supreme Court; (7) A representative from the Senate belonging to the Minority; (8) A representative from the House of Representatives belonging to the Majority; (9) Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission; (10) Chairperson of the Commission on Audit; and (11) Secretary of Justice. The 4 regular members are: (1) a representative from and designated by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; (2) a law professor designated by the Philippine Association of Law Schools; (3) a representative from and designated by the Association of Generals and Flag Officers; and (4) a retired member of the Federal Supreme Court to be designated by the Association of the Retired Justices of the  Federal Supreme Court (Section 19 (a) and (b), Article IX).

All justices and judges of lower courts shall be appointed by the Supreme Court, upon recommendation of the Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council (Section 8 (g), Article IX).

This massive reorganization, revamp or surgery of the Judiciary, with the dichotomy of the justice system and judiciary, would create havoc in the administration and delivery of justice. The Regional courts can easily be controlled in both their creation and filling up by politicians. Many of the courts may remain unfilled for years. Even now, we have many vacancies. Lawyers are not attracted to judicial postings. Undue delay in the administration of justice is unavoidable. These complexities in the justice system would make our people more litigious, even as it makes difficult access to justice by the poor.

In short, this massive revamp and surgery of the Judiciary is injudicious and injurious to our justice and judicial systems.

Moving on, I will take up first the erection of a dictatorship. The  draft Constitution devotes one whole Article, Article XXII for the Transitory Provisions. This is the the last Article. Before it was revised, this Article created a so-called Transition Commission. It is to be composed of the incumbent President as Chairman and ten others appointed by the President from the list of personalities submitted by a Search Committee. But the members of the search committee are themselves appointed by the President. Among others, the Commission is empowered to organize or reorganize and fully establish the Federal Government and the governments of the Federated Regions. It  shall  prepare  a  Transition  Plan  which,  among  others,  can  remove  all  in  the government service, thereby violating the security of tenure guarantee of all government officials and employees. Section 8 of the Transitory  Provisions provides:  “All officials of the government under the 1987 Constitution shall continue to hold their office and exercise their respective powers and duties under such terms and conditions or as may be provided in the Transition Plan.”

The incumbent President, as Chairman of the Federal Transition Commission, can thus hold on to power with absolute control of the Government and all its branches, not just the Executive Department.

Under the original Transitory Provisions of the draft Constitution, nothing can prevent the incumbent President to run for President in the first election under the new Constitution of the Federal Republic of the Philippines. The new term under it is not a re-election under the 1987 Constitution, which is prohibited under it. The ban against re-election will no longer apply to one running under the new Federal Constitution.

Because of the vigorous criticisms that the Transitory Provisions would allow the President to run for re-election and thus perpetuate himself in power, and of the President's directive to the Committee to revise the provision and not to allow him to run, the Committee revised Article XXII.

As thus revised, Section 1 of the Transitory Provisions now reads:

“The term of the President and Vice President which shall end June 30, 2022, shall not be extended.”

Its Section 2 now provides:

“The incumbent President is prohibited from running as President in the 2022 election under the Constitution.”

Take note that the prohibition does not apply to the incumbent Vice President. But, what is rather intriguing and tricky in this revised Article on Transitory Provisions is that within six months from the ratification of the draft Constitution, the incumbent President shall call for an election of a Transition President and Transition Vice President. It would thus obviously follow that assuming that the elected Transition President and Vice President are not the incumbent President and Vice President, we shall have until 30 June 2022 two sitting Presidents and two Vice Presidents, the incumbents whose term will end on 30 June 2022, and the Transition President and Transition Vice President until the end of the Transition which is on 30 June 2022. Yet, nothing is mentioned of the power of the incumbent President. It does not provide that he continues to exercise his powers under the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand,  the Transition President shall exercise all the powers of the President under the draft Constitution until 30 June 2022. The long and short of it is that the incumbent President would be a mere Christmas decoration – he has a term up to 30 June 2022, but he has no more power.

But here is the clever catch: the incumbent President is not prohibited from running as Transition President. To avoid therefor the anomaly of having two Presidents during the Transition Period, the incumbent President is allowed to run as Transition President. He will surely win. Nobody might even oppose him. He would thus become the First President under the Federal system and the last under the Unitary system under the 1987 Constitution. He can choose who his running mate Vice President be because under the draft, the candidate for President and for Vice President must run in tandem. The incumbent President can choose former Senator Bongbong Marcos as his running mate for Vice President. In a tandem scheme the vote for the President would be counted in favor of the Vice President. Thus, Marcos will easily win and become the First Vice President under the Federal system. Under this scenario, the incumbent President would remain as the regular President and the last under the 1987 Constitution. As Transition President, he would, in effect, be the First President of the Federal Republic. What about Vice President Leni Robredo who was duly elected Vice President and whose term would end on 30 June 2022 which even Section 1 of the Transitory Provisions confirms? She will remain as such until 30 June 2022 but without power. The only possible benefit she will get is that Bongbong’s election as Transitory Vice President would render moot and academic the protest filed by Bongbong Marcos with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal against her. Then Section 5 of the revised Transitory Provisions, which provides that the Transition President and Transition Vice President shall be ineligible to run for any public office in the May 2022 elections, can  be adjusted to allow the Transition Vice President to run in the said May 2022 election. Or Transition Vice President Bongbong Marcos can just simply resign as Transition Vice President and would then be eligible to run in that election as President.

The Federal Transition Commission is preserved in the revised Article XXII (Transition Provisions) with all the powers I earlier mentioned, the strongest of which is in paragraph (c) of Section 7 of the Transitory Provisions, which reads:

“To organize, reorganize, and fully establish the Federal  Government and the governments of the Federated Regions until 2022, in accordance with the Constitution.”

The Transition President shall now be its Chairman. It shall have ten (10) regular members all appointed by the Transition President and the following ex-officio members: the Transition Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and all living past Presidents. The Commission shall cease to exist on 30 June 2022, but the new President – meaning the one elected in the May 2022 election under the new Federal Constitution – is vested the power to complete the transition process to the Federal system.

During the Transition period, the Transition President can even easily declare martial law.

There is still another provision in the proposed Constitution that gives the President control of the Federated Regions. Section 16 of Article XIX on  National Security and Public Order gives him the power to intervene and take all measures necessary and proper in case any Federated Region fails to comply with its obligation as provided for in the Constitution which seriously undermines the sovereignty, territorial integrity, economy or the unity of the Federal Republic.

The reality of this dictatorial rule is further bolstered by making “lawless violence” as a new and additional ground for the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Under Section 18 of Article VII of our present Constitution, there are only two grounds: invasion and rebellion. But under Section 18(6) of Article VIII of the draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee, the grounds are now three: “invasion, rebellion, or lawless violence.” The President can easily justify “lawless violence.”

Any form of dictatorship is undemocratic.

The draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee contains other undemocratic provisions.

Here are some of them. First, the people are perpetually deprived of and  forever banned from exercising their right to amend or revise the Constitution in respect of “the democratic and republic character of the government in a federal structure, its indissolubility and permanence (Section 4, Article XXI). In the language of said section these “shall not be subject to amendment or revision”. Yet, Section 1 of Article XI of the draft Constitution provides that the Federal Congress may, by law, create, abolish, merge, divide the Regions and determine their constituents, political subdivisions, subject to the ratification by the people in a referendum held for the purpose in the affected political subdivisions. Where is now the underlying principle  that in a democratic and republic state sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from the people (Sec. 1, Article II of our present Constitution). We should be reminded of what George Washington said in his Farewell address in 1796: “The basis for our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.”

Second, it creates an elitist democracy, an element that in itself weakens democracy, which could easily be fostered, pampered and strengthened by old and new political dynasties in the new eighteen (18) Federated Regions. The new provisions on regulations and control of political parties and the abolition of the party-list system under the present Constitution coupled with the very narrow concepts of political dynasties would in fact be the prescriptions for political elitism. The  anti-political dynasty provision is only up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity. Under our expanded family culture, this limit is meaningless because the dynasty goes beyond the second degree unit. The poor would have no chance for political leadership against these political parties and political dynasties. The poor would remain under the clutches of politicians. The Democracy Fund would only be a screen to cover up elitism.

More elitist is the requirement in Section 4(c) of Article VIII that the President and the Vice President shall be elected as a team. A vote for the President shall be counted for the candidate for Vice President. It follows then that a vote for the running mate Vice President will not be counted as a vote for the candidate for President. This requirement prevents one from running either as President or Vice President as an independent candidate. There will be no Noli de Castro, an independent candidate for Vice President who won in the 2004 elections. The candidate for President may choose who his/her Vice Presidential candidate be.

Then, too, only those with college degrees or its equivalents can run for President, Vice President, or Senators and Representatives in the Federal Congress. Those who do not these degrees because of poverty or another other cause would never have a chance of being elected as such. This is undemocratic, and even anti- poor. Yet we would never have the assurance that the college degree holder would be  a good President, Vice President, Senator or Representative. We had a President who was a brilliant lawyer, bar topnotcher, yet his regime was one of corruption, oppression and injustice under Martial law, the worst ever for our country. He was ousted by the People Power revolt, and brought to Hawaii which he thought was Paoay, but whose remains were allowed by the Supreme Court to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We had a President who was a holder of a Master’s degree in Economics but who was prosecuted for graft and corruption and plunder, was arrested and detained in a hospital, but was thereafter absolved by the same Supreme Court.

The draft Consultative Committee Constitution is anti-Filipino or anti-Philippines. First, it adopts the system of Government that destroys the unity and solidarity of the Filipino people; that is not suited for the Philippines and the Filipino people and has never been tried and tested in our country; and is evolved in anomalous violation of how federal states and governments are evolved. Second, while Article II on National Territory takes the trouble to expand the territory by its long definition, it deliberately did not mention by name the West Philippines Sea. Yet, it specifically mentions by name the Philippine Rise (which is the Benham Rise). Why not clearly specifically mention the West Philippine Sea? Because of the Administration's fear of or love for China? I have earlier mentioned of the Philippines becoming a province or colony of China. But let me elaborate further. If you recall in a gathering of Chinese businessmen on 19 February 2018, at the Manila Hotel the President mentioned of the Philippines being a province of China. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque tried to cushion the impact of the President's statement by saying that it was only a President's joke. But we know for a historic fact that China does not consider serious pronouncements as jokes, especially if it is in her favor. We know too that Chinese leaders, especially its President now – President Xi, whom our President admires much – do not joke on state affairs or matters. I have spoken of several indicators why the Philippines is getting closer to be a colony or province of China. Just consider a few:  One, almost twice weekly our  national broadsheets put in one or two full-page ads pictures of Chinese President Xi showcasing his programs and the progress of Chinese and its world leadership. Two, it was reported that just recently on two occasions, a Chinese military plane landed in Davao City.  Three,  China has reclaimed parts of our West  Philippine  Sea.  Four,  the President has already visited China and meet President Xi thrice. Five, the Palace had mentioned China-Philippines co-ownership of the West Philippine Sea. Six, in one of the President's visits to China, China provided a P3.8 billion assistance to the Philippines  and the construction for free of two bridges across the Pasig River. Seven, a few days after the President's trip to China, Chinese military aircrafts landed at our Panganiban reef  in  our  West  Philippine  Sea.  Eight,  China  unveiled  a  monument  to  its island-building in the West Philippine Sea. Nine, China has deployed missiles on the Panganiban, Zamora and Kagitingan reefs in the West Philippine Sea. Ten, after his last trip to China the President made an offer of 60-40 sharing with China for the joint exploration plan for the West Philippine Sea. Eleven, and to our shock, the front page of the Manila Bulletin issue of 6 July 2018 has this article: “President to seek China’s help if war breaks out in Mindanao”.

The draft Consultative Committee Constitution is anti-people. Consider its Declaration of Principles alone. It does not contain anymore the guarantee of “full respect for human rights” enshrined in Section 11 of Article II of our present Constitution.

While the draft tries to expand the Bill of Rights (Article III) by stressing that the rights enumerated therein are now “demandable against the State and non-State actors”, it forgot that it has provided in Section 3 of its Article XX (General Provisions) that “The Federal Republic may not be sued without its consent.” It as well forgot that these rights are demandable even without so providing. For example, Article 32 of the Civil Code of the Philippines provides that any public officer or employee or any private individual who directly or indirectly obstructs, defeats, violates, or in any manner impedes or impairs the rights and liberties of another person is liable to the latter for damages.

Further, the Bill of Rights actually diminishes the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizure. It now authorizes, in addition to the search warrant, a so-called “surveillance warrant” [Sec. 5 (b), Article III]. It also did not abolish the death penalty [Sec. 22 (a), Article III]. It should have done so because the Philippines is a State-Party to the Second Protocol of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This Protocol abolishes the death penalty. Section 2 of Article II of the draft Constitution itself provides that the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted  principles of international law as part of the law of the land.”

The Bill of Rights in the draft Constitution further diminishes the right of the people in respect of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by adding, as I earlier indicated, “lawless violence” as a ground of the suspension of the writ. In this regard, “lawless violence” is now inscribed in the Bill of Rights. “Lawless violence” was not a ground for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in our Constitutions of 1935, 1973, and 1987. Section 4 of the draft Constitution provides:

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion, rebellion, or lawless violence, when the public safety requires it. Even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data and other protective writs may still be resorted to unless prejudicial to public order.”

On the other hand, Section 15 of Article III of our present Construction provides:

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

The Bill of Rights also reduces freedom of religion by limiting religious beliefs to only the fundamental ones, even though it expands it to include the freedom to “reject” religion. The expansion is meaningless. To one who has no religion, freedom of religion means nothing.

The draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee breeds a tyrannical, oppressive, and unjust regime because, among others, it creates a horribly horrendous, bloated, enlarged and expanded bureaucracy to maintain and sustain, which would forever burden beyond and without measure the people of our generation and even of the generations yet unborn.

How is this kind of bureaucracy brought about?

The draft Constitution enlarges a Federal Senate and Federal House of Representatives. The Senate will now be composed of 36 Senators (two from each Federated Region) and the House of Representatives of not more than 400 members. Eighteen Federated Regions with broad exclusive powers, each of which would have its own Regional Assembly and Executive Department.

The Federated Regions, the reorganized and injudiciously revamped Judiciary, the Constitutional Commissions, etc. would require the creation of thousands of elective and appointive positions.

To maintain and support this horribly horrendous, bloated and enlarged bureaucracy, the Federal Government and the Federated Regions will have to increase the rates of taxes and impose new taxes or resort to internal and external borrowings. As reported in the Philippine Star last 29 July, the debts (domestic and foreign) of the National Government have already reached P7 trillion as of June this year. And as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer issue of 30 July, it would reach P8 trillion in 2019. We know very well that these debts would in the end be shouldered by our people. In the final analysis, these would be three things that people cannot escape from – death, debts and taxes. The acronym of these is DDT, a powerful and deadly insecticide.

Summing up, the draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee, with Federalism as the Trojan horse, must be rejected because of the following reasons, among others:

First, it divides our people and dismembers our one strong nation under a unitary system which has been with us for at least one hundred and twenty years from 1898 when we gained our independence.

Second, it is anti-Filipino, anti-people, anti-poor.

Third, it even weakens our democracy as it strengthens the foundation for a dictatorship, creates an elitist body politics, and even weakens the Bill of Rights.

Fourth, the division of the country into 18 Federated Regions creates new feudal states which are in fact created for and will be lorded over by new strengthened, expanded old political dynasties or new ones and new warlords who would control the elections with the notorious 3Gs – gold, guns and goons.

Fifth, it creates a horribly horrendous, bloated, enlarged and expanded bureaucracy, the support and maintenance of which can be done only by increasing taxes or imposing new taxes or by borrowing money. Not far behind these would be increases in the prices of almost everything, e.g,. food, medicines, etc. They create and unbearable burden on the people.  It would be tyranny, oppression and injustice.

Sixth, this horribly horrendous, bloated, enlarged and expanded bureaucracy creates breeding grounds for massive graft and corruption; discourages businessmen and foreign investors as doing business would become difficult and costly.

Seventh, this horribly horrendous bloated, enlarged and expanded bureaucracy makes extremely hard the pursuit and implementation of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Eighth, the reorganized justice systems and judiciaries would in fact delay the administration of justice and impair the independence of the Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.  It would as well make difficult access to justice by the poor.

Ninth, it robs and takes away from the Local Government Units their guaranteed and ensured autonomy under the present Constitution and makes them slaves of the Federated Regions.

Tenth, it is a prescription for economic disaster and a formula for national and regional bankruptcy.

Eleventh, finally, if adopted, the transition to the Federal system would be very costly, slow, complicated, difficult, chaotic. Uncertainty, insecurity, instability would be among its  first harvests, especially  if the dictatorship it fosters  will  last forever.   As to cost alone, NEDA has estimated that the shift to Federalism would cost the Government P253.5 Billion in the first year. And how shall this amount be achieved or met? Only by taxes and borrowings which would be shouldered by the people.

All of these only prove that our 1987 Constitution is still the best for our country and for our people.  It is the best Christmas gift for them after EDSA 1.

All of us Filipinos would be victims of a Federalism under the draft Constitution of the Consultative Committee. It inflicts a cruel punishment on a God-loving people. We should not commit suicide by supporting it or by campaigning for the approval of this draft Constitution, of this Federalism.

God bless the Philippines.

God bless the De la Salle Santiago Zobel School. God bless our people.

Thank you, and all the best.