Voices in Cha-cha debate
Though the sentiment for Charter change was mixed in a recent public hearing in Cebu City as chaired by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, the antis weren’t drowned by the pros when it came to voicing their side on the issue.
And it was just as well since the committee is chaired by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a Liberal Party (LP) official who made no secret of his opposition to the Duterte administration’s aggressive push towards Charter change and federalism.
True there are Cebuano leaders both former and incumbent who joined the chant for Charter change since it is the golden opportunity for local governments to chart their respective destinies without the restraints imposed on them by imperial Manila.
“We, as a nation, are faced with a golden opportunity which, I hope this time, we will not miss out. Federalism will provide us with the freedom that will ensure unprecedented prosperity,” former Governor Lito Osmeña said in a statement.
Having charted Cebu’s economic boom in the 80s to early 90s — this despite the devastation caused by typhoon Ruping — Osmeña knows whereof he speaks and the former governor ran for the presidency as the original “probinsiyano” aka “promdi (from the province).”
But “freedom” and “prosperity”, while ideal, won’t belong in the same sentence if the Duterte administration pushes through with Charter change and federalism, warn opponents led by former Chief Justice and 1987 Constitution framer Hilario Davide Jr.
“I hope our people may be able to fully understand what is it all about and not to be hoodwinked into believing in the new ‘paradise’ proponents of the Charter change promised for them.
The ‘new paradise’ is not for the people.
It is for politicians who seek for power, fortune, and fame, and to perpetuate themselves in that power and to acquire more fortune and fame,” Davide said.
And based on the administration’s aggressive campaign against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serreno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in Congress and the imprisonment of Sen. Leila de Lima on drug charges, there is serious cause for concern.
Most telling are some of the provisions floated about in the new Constitution, which curtails the power of the Supreme Court and term extensions for elective officials as well as allowing incumbents to assume transition holdover capacity beyond their current terms of office.
But while opponents to Charter change are quick to accuse the incumbents of aiming to perpetuate themselves in power, it cannot be denied that the past administrations failed to empower local governments sufficiently, especially those who needed it the most.
Still, the public debate for Charter change had started in earnest and it is the duty of all Filipinos not just to monitor but to make their voices heard loud enough for their officials to pay heed.
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