Posted by: luvin | November 3, 2008

Charter Change and Mindanao

What is the role of Mindanao in the present Philippine Republic? A most ascerbic answer would be; the source of the countries gross products. In tagalog, “gatasang baka.”

Midanao provides the raw material, and lately even the finished products, for the consumer in Metro Manila and the rest of the country. And what does it get in return?

Mindanao’s march to its true potential hinges on the chances of its people of being given the opportunity to decide for themselves and execute what dreams or goals they would like to realize.  In the present Philippine scenario, where the elites of Luzon decides what is best for the country, the chance of Mindanao and even of Visayas, depends on the chance of the constitution being altered.

Charter change that would usher a new form of government that would be similar to a federal set up, could augur well for mindanao’s progress. However, our constitution seems to be written on stone. The safeguards, brought about by Philippines’ painful experience during the Marcos dictatorship,  makes it very difficult to effect changes to the constitution. It is a positive safeguard when viewed from that Martial Law years, but when viewed through the Mindanao vista, the safeguards are the barriers towards the national progress.

Our very centric governance is even manipulated by the rebel groups. The MILF for example could make full use of terrorism as a way to get the attention of the national leaders because it is their attention that matters most. Their attention is even more important than the lives of the poor Mindanaoan.

A constitution should not be an instrument that would blockade the nation to greater heights. The swill charter for example is something to look at. As reported by Ana Marie Pamintuan;

” If advocates of Charter change in the Philippines are serious about the effort, they can learn from the Swiss experience.

Charter change in this country is not divisive, as it has become in the Philippines. The Swiss, we were told, see initiatives to change their constitution as just another aspect of direct democracy. They are reassured that the process will be transparent and will involve a great deal of public participation.

The federal constitution of Switzerland is 160 years old this year. It was passed as the Swiss democratic republic was set up, a year after the civil war that ended with the Catholic cantons failing in their secession bid.”

The elites of Luzon should open their eyes to the reality that Visayas and Mindanao are now clamoring for change, and that they should lead the way. The elites in Manila should be told, that they are the stumbling blocks towards progress. Mindanao’s cry is akin to a young man who wants to break free from the suffocating control of his elders. Luzon, like an aging parent should realize that sooner or later, the young man will grow stronger than them. Mindanao will grow, like the young man into a full manhood.

In those 160 years, the constitution has been amended more than 160 times, but revised or thoroughly overhauled only twice. The first was in 1874, when certain economic and religious limitations were abolished and Jews gained political rights.

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