Press Release
October 11, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 398:
Statement of Sen. Leila M. de Lima on Arroyo's preemptive power grab


House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's and her House allies' push for charter change is rather a sneaky political move amidst speculations on Duterte's deteriorating health. Reportedly, the House resolution adopting Arroyo's charter change proposal was endorsed to the plenary without any public hearings or debates at the committee level.

Its most questionable and shameless feature is the removal of the Vice President from the line of succession to the presidency. Strangely, nobody bothered to look up the very nature of what a Vice President is supposed to be, i.e., to succeed the President and take over his office in case anything happens to him.

Arroyo's proposed charter might as well have abolished the Office of the Vice President, as if merely removing VP Leni Robredo from the line of succession would hide Arroyo's selfish motivation in pushing for VP Leni's virtual ouster from office. It is nothing but a preemptive power grab.

It is therefore more than a coincidence that this feature was belatedly pulled out of Arroyo's draft charter as soon as Duterte assured his allies that he is free of cancer. But this is no guarantee that it won't be re-inserted at some other time.

To sweeten the deal for members of Congress, the proposed charter further removed term limits for elective officials as well as the proscription on political dynasties. This is a Pandora's Box of self-perpetuating and self-serving politicians waiting to be opened.

It is nothing but a reversal of democratization -- of reforms introduced in the 1987 Constitution to expand the selection of elective officials to include those coming from the grassroots who will be able to genuinely represent the people more than the entrenched political clans.

Under Duterte, Philippine democracy is in its death throes. Arroyo and her allies in the House now even want to compete against him for the job of being its gravedigger. We are witnessing a contest in the corruption of power. The people are reduced to watching from the sidelines, pre-occupied with their deteriorating living conditions and scrimping for the next meal. Above them, meat is thrown around in the feast of gluttons who can never have enough of power.

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