Press Release
December 19, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 437:
Senator Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the Passage of a House Resolution Endorsing the Shift to Federal Government and the Removal of Term Limits


Just before Congress went on recess last week, the House of Representatives approved Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 (RBH15) which proposes revisions in the 1987 Constitution. Led by no other than House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies, RBH15 proposes a shift from a unitary form of government to a federal system where, among others, incumbent elected officials may enjoy "unlimited" terms of office.

What makes the passage of this RBH15 even more scandalous, outrageous and unprecedented is the fact that it slipped past us while we were all amazed at the spectacle of some Congress leaders and the members of the Executive Department trading barbs upon the discovery of multi-billion "pork insertions" in the proposed national budget. Without public scrutiny, RBH15 passed through plenary debates in only three session days.

Obviously, the House leadership's railroading of the passage of RBH15 is a typical trademark of CGMA who, like the proverbial thief in the night, was proclaimed the winner in the 2004 presidential election. Never mind if Congress, with its enormous power, allowed the third extension of martial law in Mindanao. Never mind if Congress once again kowtowed to the President's wishes while remaining oblivious about the economic woes of our people.

But, for such a very sensitive task of overhauling the basic law of the land, it is Congress' duty and obligation to the people to at least require a comprehensive and open debate on the proposals. The Filipino people have the right to a full and fair deliberation, given wide-ranging implications of the proposed revisions on all our lives, and those of our children and even our children's children.

Unfortunately, the only transparency to be found in Arroyo's Lower House is its members' arrogance and greed to find any way possible to revise the Constitution - no matter what or how much it takes - so that those who are desperately pushing for it can perpetuate themselves in power and enrich their pockets with taxpayers' money.

Mrs. Arroyo should realize that she is no longer the president. She or Mr. Duterte should never tinker with our Constitution and the fate of our nation and its people. Even when time comes to change our Constitution, our people cannot bet on those who are currently pushing for it. Their words and actions cannot be trusted anymore to decide what is best for the interest of our nation.

Still, we must insist from our "honorable" congressmen to answer the lingering question: How does revising our Constitution get the lives of ordinary Filipinos better? It is a tragedy that even in the past efforts to introduce revisions or amendments to the Constitution, the Filipino people are being made to swallow the misleading proposition that the present Constitution has created the societal ills we have today, and that revising it is the only way to get us out of poverty. That is patently false.

RBH 15 is the latest gift from Mrs. Arroyo and her allies to Duterte who has repeatedly displayed his penchant for quick-fixes to the country's problems. Duterte's push for Charter Change is meant to protect his and his minions' political interests and cover up their inability to lead and govern our people.

The best Christmas gift that our congressmen can give us is to lay their hands off of Cha-Cha. At least, we're consoled by the idea that Cha-Cha has slim chances of securing the Senate's nod. And even if it does, I have faith that the Filipino people will stand up to defend our Constitution.

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