Editorial: “Nation-building” but not by the people

www.nordis.net

Gears are turning for the government’s push to federalism as the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution readies it for submission to the President come July 9. This comes after the Con-Com held just two regional consultations-cum-federalism roadshows in Dumaguete and Baguio. At the rate they are going, however, one can not avoid but think if inputs from these consultations shall really be incorporated in their approved draft.

The government media publicizes the Baguio-leg of the consultation last June 26 as “substantial”. True enough, it substantiated the case for regional autonomy in the Cordillera. It failed, however, on substantiating the contents of their proposed draft constitution.

The whole point of the consultation then went to the woods when it only presented bits and pieces of the provisions of the proposed new constitution and only accommodated about an hour of questioning from the supposed stakeholders. Of course, the stakeholders would rather take on the issue that hits close to home, Cordillera autonomy, than debate on the nuggets of information on the “new constitution” delivered by the members of the Con-Com.

The draft, approved on July 3 by the Con-Com, only became accessible to the public when media outlet Rappler published an exclusive piece on the highlights and features of the “new” constitution.

Looking at the Con-Com’s time frame, it seems that it leaves no room for public inputs to be included in the final draft. Once submitted to the President, Malacañang will review and submit inputs to the committee from July 10-22. The President then will most likely endorse the document to the Congress on his third State of the Nation Address (SONA). Once the Congress accepts the draft, the committee will be dissolved, changes will be finalized, and the Congress will convene as a Constituent Assembly to adopt, revise, or junk the draft constitution.

So where does that leave the stakeholders — the public — to scrutinize and participate in what they dub as “nation-building”?

The Constitution is the entity where sovereignty resides and the Filipino has an absolute right to know what exactly will happen if Charter change pushes through. The consultation held in Baguio did not meet that expectation. Instead, it became a hullaballoo of making the case for federalism. And roughly a week after that, the Con-Com took the people by surprise, in media announcements, by abruptly approving the draft constitution without due transparency.

Recent statistics provided by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations show that the majority are opposed to Charter change and are not fully aware of what the current push for it may entail.

As sovereign citizens then, it is now up to us to probe the draft constitution, all its implications, and register our say. Let us persevere to maximize the democratic rights accorded to us in the 1987 Constitution. Stand up for independence and the democratic rights of a sovereign people.

May 2019 is their target date for a plebiscite. We will ultimately vote on that plebiscite. # nordis.net

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