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EDITORIAL: Changing The Constitution Must Follow A Process

Some members of the senate and the house of representatives have taken interest in the issue of amending the constitution. Some are suggesting of changing the 1987 constitution from unitary to federal. While this is a welcome development for people who have been advocating for real change in our over-centralized system of government.

Changing our constitution from a unitary to a federal system is not within the power of politicians to decide, it is an educated choice of an enlightened citizenry. Hence it must follow a clear procedure where the people will directly participate.

It has been long, tedious, and nauseating legislative discussions and debate that has produced nothing to educate and give people a chance to participate. But people know and aspire to change our over-centralized unitary presidential form of government.

Under our present system, we cannot develop the natural potential, culture, and talents of our respective regions without reference to, or approval of the central government. We cannot design an effective human resource development system to address the unique needs of our people in the communities, we remain illiterate about local economics and entrepreneurship. Our electoral system is dysfunctional. We do not have true and responsible oppositions - a basic requirement for a healthy democracy. Politicians cannot be trusted to work for meaningful change. The left sector supported by the biased and destructive activism of most mainstream media and some clergy will not give us a period of peace to pursue steady growth - they will continue pestering us.

Meanwhile, we are aware of many options, one of them being a federal-parliamentary form and system of government. We have been learning from the internet and many sources the many advantages and samples of successful countries that are better than presidential unitary. But in order to adopt their models we have to follow a strategic approach. We cannot rush it and depend on the politicians alone to do it for us. There is a 5-stage process to do it.

1. Tactical plan – We have to agree on a stage-by-stage approach for constitutional change. There are a lot of changes that will happen; hence we must be strategic in our approach.

2. Citizen education – There must be a national campaign through citizen education on the concept, principles, and advantages of federalism. This must be done by the education sector.

3. Plebiscite - After the nationwide education there must be a plebiscite to ask basic questions: do we want a federal form, with a parliamentary, presidential, or mixed system of government.

4. Drafting the constitution – only after the plebiscite can we proceed to decide on what body or group will draft the new constitution. The politicians can now debate the details.

5. National ratification – The final draft must be ratified by the people and the implementation of the new form and system can start.


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