Tango before Cha-cha

Anthony Chua

The Filipinos have seen two “people power” revolution that ousted two of our notorious presidents towards international disgrace. The first was in 1986 when dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos crumbled as the influential who’s who in the business, civil, political, religious, and other sectors mingled with the common and lowly “masa” in swathing Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) that culminated to his eviction. The despot began to rule with absolute power as he declared the Philippines under the state of martial law in 1972. But after 14 years, after Filipinos can no longer tolerate Marcos’ abusive and corrupt leadership, a revolution sparked that sent him flying to Hawaii and ascended Corazon Aquino into presidency.

The second one dethroned the Philippines most popular president by yet another EDSA revolt. Former movie icon and champion of the masses Joseph “Erap” Estrada was inaugurated as Philippine president in an overwhelming landslide vote. Yet his popularity was no license to exculpate him from overthrowing him from Malacañang by sheer power of the Filipino populace.

Two presidents with power and influence toppled down by power of the populace. This is democracy pushed to the extent, the Philippine style. And if the incumbent president is unwary on her decisions, she might suffer the same fate.

Filipinos are very willing to embrace change, which includes the articles in Constitution that was ratified after the country broke loose from 14 years of dictatorship. Perhaps this is the aspect of political awareness that we are most matured at. We are tolerant to moves and machinations made by our politicians, unless they blatantly infringe our freedom and rights, and until the time we are so fed up that we can no longer refrain ourselves from crying, “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!”

It is a given fact that we have to adapt our laws and our Constitution to the changing times. Sometimes we must go with the flow to be competitive in the international arena. Filipinos are very aware and keen about this.

But not now!

Not in a time when every Filipino considers any move by the administration that tinkers with the Constitution suggests a looming extension of term of elected political officials. Not in a time when rather than mapping out ways to safeguard the country from the worsening global economic condition our politicians are too fixated on lobbying for their political interests. And not in a time when we are too distrustful of our leaders that every word they speak are tinged with doubt and suspicion.

Amending the Constitution is a very risky move. It may push up the country towards progress or pull it down towards economic, political, and social chaos. The best move politicians should do right now is to wait for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down gracefully before amending the Charter, unless her allies at the House of Representatives want to end Arroyo’s term in disgrace. It would be wise for the Arroyo administration to sacrifice first on tackling on more crucial, urgent problems such as the threatening economic slowdown or impending layoffs of overseas Filipino workers than to lobby for Charter change.

They should dance tango first before doing Cha-cha.


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