EDITORIAL: Prelude to Autocracy?



Sometime in January, 1973 the Filipino nation endured one of the fraudulent schemes employed during the early part of the conjugal dictatorship. A questionable referendum paved the way to the irregular passage of the 1973 constitution.

Nationwide, a referendum was maneuvered by way of the conduct of community assemblies during which time the citizens were made to approve a fake constitution only by way of raising hands. There was no real plebiscite.

This forgery is being raised now in the light of rumors circulating that a signature campaign is being initiated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Reports have it that allegedly DILG is slyly engaged in an online signature campaign through which people are being made to sign documents purporting be supportive of a charter change no longer by plebiscite.

This claim is being raised by Bayan Muna Bicol region chapter spokesperson James Casilihan. Alongside with this is the launching of a movement deceptively dubbed as the “correct movement”, which promotes economic reforms by way of charter change. Offhand the economic reforms deserve a fair and sober treatment, in the sense that they seem to be of reasonable objectives.

What is alarming however is the political and personal motives inserted into the proposed economic reforms that could lead to further the creation or perpetuation of political dynasties.

The constitutional amendments to the 1987 constitution intend to remove the term limits of government officials holding elective positions. Such move reveals the brazen shamelessness and greed of the people actively campaigning for constitutional reforms.

What makes the entire situation more disturbing is the fact that the modus operandi of securing the peoples’ support is indicative of pure and simple deceit.

The weakness of the people who are already suffering from the worsening spread of the Coronavirus Pandemic is being taken advantage of by the charter change (Cha-Cha) advocates.

The 1973 constitution was rammed into the throats of innocent people but at least at that time there was no widespread health crisis which is causing a very serious economic hardship that could eventually lead to recession.

In plain the people’s weakness should not be taken advantage of, just like the 1973 referendum or even much worse. They never learn. Or is history simply repeating itself? That means power and wealth have again become the favorite dish of certain elitist groups.

In the end are we witnessing the development of new breeds of oligarchs via political dynasties? That could lead to the rebirth of autocracy, masqueraded as populist. Lest it be overlooked, the imposition of the 1973 constitution was solely attributable to strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos supported by the military.

Marcos dissolved congress and padlocked the constitutional convention. This time should any constitutional change occur it shall be upon the conspiracy by the legislative bodies with members who are earnest in extending their term, with the hidden executive hand maneuvering everything, using the military to enforce its will.