According to the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time and a place to every purpose under heaven.
The members of the House of Representatives bent on charter change should heed this message from the Holy Bible.
While we agree that the present Constitution is far from perfect, we see no great need to alter the basic law of the land at this time. This is because the country is facing such serious problems at this stage that to include charter change as yet another issue for the public to focus on will only add to the present messy state.
Even President Benigno Aquino 3rd has refused to support Cha-cha. Maybe because the present charter was passed during his late mother’s presidency, or whether he truly believes that there is nothing essentially wrong with the Constitution, the members of the House should listen to his repeated answers to anyone bringing up the issue of Cha-cha.
No means no for the President, but some members of the House are still hoping that he will change his mind.
Mr. Aquino has two odd years left in his term. In his view, it is so far, so good. So why change a winning formula. The President likes to harp on what appears to be solid economic growth of the Philippines under his watch. All this growth occurred under the ’86 charter, so why change it?
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, however, does not look at the situation the same way. In his view, the economy can grow at an even faster clip if certain economic provisions of the charter are altered.
Specifically, foreign ownership of property and certain industries need to be revised, according to the Speaker. The proposed revisions will result in a dramatic increase in foreign investments, Belmonte insists.
This may or may not be the case, but by leaving well enough alone, is it not possible that the positive economic growth of the country will continue in the remaining two years of the Aquino administration?
Perhaps the best time for charter change is at the onset of the next administration. Whoever occupies Malacañang Palace after Mr. Aquino can take the lead in supporting the needed changes on the condition that he or she will still be bound by the term limit of the Constitution that he (or she) was elected under.
In fact, all the candidates for president in 2016 should include in their programs their plans for or against Cha-cha.
For now, Mr. Aquino should focus on the harsh realities of the country. The economy may be growing, but unemployment is actually worsening. Poverty is also now being felt by a bigger part of the population. These are the biggest challenges he faces in the remaining years of his term.
Then there is the sad fact the power rates in the country are among the highest in the world. That in our view is the biggest reason foreign direct investments are not coming to the Philippines as massively as they enter other Asean countries.
Finally, there is the graft and corruption situation. The Philippines’s remains bogged down by endemic corruption, especially in government. (But, hypocritically, the President and his men claim to be fighting corruption and treading the “daang matuwid.” And funnily hypocritical foreign institutions are praising him for his ineffective anti-corruption efforts.)
By radically reducing corruption in government, there may be no need for Cha-cha at all.