February 21, 2011 by staff
Malcolm Gladwell, Barely a year ago, any suggestion or hint of amending the charter was immediately rejected and regarded with suspicion by almost all Filipinos. These desperate many advocates of constitutional reform. Dr. Jose Abueva, former president of the University of the Philippines and one of the strongest advocates of constitutional reform, for example, had almost thrown the towel-and understandably so. Abueva has spent many years of his life to study and travel the country giving lectures on why we need to review and amend the Constitution. He advocated that the only way this country cannot progress politically and mature is to go to federal-parliamentary system of government. However, after seeing all attempts to revise the constitution to fail, it reaches a point of fatigue. I once heard that Charter change was condemned, it was a lost cause.
But something recent peak, and all of a sudden, there is renewed interest in changing the Charter. In fact, the Charter Change Committee in the House of Representatives has begun holding public hearings. Last week, the Senate committee chaired by Senator No-nonsense, Miriam Defensor Santiago called for a public hearing and invited leading scholars and constitutional experts to speak on the subject. The first group of stakeholders in the Senate was the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno. Today, the UP Alumni Association organizes an SA Kapihan Bayan up to discuss amending the charter. Once again, the guest speaker is former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno.
What caused the tipping point to change the Charter? Why amend the charter suddenly seem interesting again? In the book by Malcolm Gladwell entitled The Tipping Point “, he said that a tipping point occurs when a person who has the power to influence and connect with people seems to be the bearer of a message or champion a movement in the appropriate context. Gladwell says that for the tipping point occurs, the message must have a value and the power to influence people’s lives. What all this means and how do they apply to the Philippine context?
In addition, the former Chief Justice Puno said that our image of the presidential form of government has more power in the executive than the other two branches of government, causing an unhealthy imbalance. In fact, he said, the President of the Philippines is more powerful than the President of the United States. This is so because if the United States under a presidential form of government, its structure is federal. Thus, different states have the political and economic power and do not depend on the national government for their development.
The message that constitutional reform is sorely needed may have been long recognized by the major sectors of society. But it never took off because the political context was bad and the messengers were not acceptable to the people. With former Chief Justice Puno now he defends, in a context where the chairman has no interest in prolonging its mandate, there is hope for changing the charter, at the end.
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