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alphaq
06-03-2009, 20:52
Is Mancao's return part of con-ass plan?

By RAISSA ROBLES
06/03/2009 | 09:30 PM

[/URL] (http://www.gmanews.tv/story/163989/News-analysis-Is-Mancaos-return-part-of-con-ass-plan#)
Seven of eight Philippine presidents since 1953 have tried changing the Constitution. Only two succeeded: Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino.

Marcos used a sitting Constitutional Convention and Aquino a 47-member Constitutional Commission. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo initially tried a Constitutional Commission in 2005, and when that didn't work, a constituent assembly, which is what Congress formed on the late
evening of June 2. People Power may erupt amid 'desperate' Cha-cha move – analysts

Another “People Power" might erupt following the “desperate" move of administration lawmakers to railroad the approval of a measure transforming the House of Representatives into a constituent assembly to change the 1987 Constitution, three political analysts interviewed by GMANews.TV warned on Wednesday.

"The merger [of Lakas-CMD and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino] and the approval of House Resolution 1109 were both fast-tracked. Obviously, somebody also wants to fast-track Cha-cha [Charter change], implying that elections won’t push through," said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Economic Reform. More (http://www.gmanews.tv/story/163987/People-Power-may-erupt-amid-desperate-Cha-cha-move---analysts)



The 2005 effort borrowed heavily from the techniques used by the dictator Marcos in 1972. Among them: bodily lifting provisions from the Marcos constitution that would have given Arroyo strong powers and the use of "fast-tracked amendments" to the Constitution. Mrs. Arroyo even relied on some of the people Marcos had used, among them Jose Abueva, Gabriel Claudio and Victor Ortega

(see author's stories for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
[URL]http://pcij.org/stories/2006/charter.html;http://pcij.org/stories/2006/charter2.html; http://pcij.org/stories/2006/charter3.html)

The current approach that's now unfolding is more subtle. Senators have laughed at the House approval of a constituent assembly as “stupid," “insane," “a joke" and “useless."

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile bluntly said any amendments should be done jointly by the House and the Senate. “Ako ay nagturo ng constitutional law, I studied constitutional law as a student, as a lawyer, as a professor. I’m still studying it as a senator. E sabi ko hindi magagawa ng House of Representatives yan sapagkat the House of Representatives with due respect is not Congress."

He might yet be proven wrong.

The present game plan might be that the House, sitting as a constituent assembly, will suddenly change the form of government to parliamentary. Their opponents then wouldn't be able to bring the case to the Supreme Court immediately - it would not yet be what is called a "justiciable issue" because, as noted constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas explains, there's no controversy involved.

Bernas says the case could only become justiciable if the Lower House bypasses the Senate and goes straight to the Commission on Elections to order up a plebiscite on constitutional amendments it wants.

At that point, the Comelec would be compelled to say that it can't conduct a plebiscite without the Senate's approval - and the case will then go to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime there could be other decisive external events. Years ago, Enrile himself revealed how, as Marcos' defense secretary in 1972, he had helped arrange a bogus assassination attempt on himself to help justify the declaration of martial law. Incidentally, among those who helped Marcos seize power and certify it through a rigged
constitution were two Constitutional Convention delegates: Gabriel Claudio (currently Arroyo's political strategist) and Victor Ortega (currently the house committee chairman on constitutional amendments).

What Marcos did was to declare martial law and using dictatorial powers, staged "citizens assemblies" to "approve" his rigged constitution. He then compelled the Supreme Court to approve what he had done by arguing it had no choice but to obey the "people's will."

The Arroyo administration rushed to bring home former police Senior Superintendent Cezar Mancao II. He is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines Thursday morning. The haste to resolve a nine-year old double murder case seems inexplicable.

One possible explanation: Mancao will blame the deposed president Joseph Estrada and his key aide, Senator Panfilo Lacson.

When this happens, government will file a murder case against Estrada and order his arrest. Given Estrada's popularity, he and his followers could resist this. Remember that in 2001, when the deposed president was arrested for plunder, his followers mounted a bloody assault on Malacañang Palace.

A similar incident now could be an ostensible reason for Mrs. Arroyo to declare a state of emergency or martial rule. During that period, Congress (which is mostly in Mrs. Arroyo's pocket), would not be abolished. In fact, because it had already conveniently declared itself a constituent assembly, it could be used to propose amendments ostensibly to remedy the emergency. It would see the creation of a new order.

As for the military trying to assert its role to protect and defend the Constitution, last May a changing of the guards took place. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Alexander Yano retired prematurely and gave way to his classmate, Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado. More significantly, Arroyo's most trusted general, Delfin Bangit, became head of the biggest bulk of the military, the 70,000-strong Army.

And when Ibrado retires early next year or even this year, Bangit, the former head of the Presidential Security Group, is widely expected to assume the top post. It's the closest thing to Marcos' General Fabian Ver. - GMANews.TV

(Raissa Robles is a journalist who has been covering politics since 1983 for Business Day, Manila Chronicle, Business Star and Philippine Star. She is currently senior Manila correspondent of South China Morning Post (HK) and Radio Netherlands.)