President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was silent on proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 25, even as moves were made in both houses of Congress to push it.

Neophyte senator and former actor Robin Padilla, who topped the May 2022 senatorial race with 26.6 million votes, has made a public campaign for the country to shift to a federal system. He said this should happen in stages, starting with Congress turning itself first into a unicameral parliamentary system.

Marcos is the chairman of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. He was quoted during the campaign saying that a federal system fits the Philippines but Charter change would be difficult to push “because the public believes that lawmakers are merely pushing to extend their terms.”

The 1987 Constitution was drafted in the wake of the 1986 People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos’ father and namesake, the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and installed democracy icon Corazon Aquino as revolutionary president.

Attempts to amend the so-called “Cory Constitution” began as early as the next administration of Fidel Ramos. All presidents, including Cory’s son Benigno Aquino III, contemplated amending it.

However, political science professor Edmund Tayao said Charter change moves were always “hijacked” by proposals to extend the term limits of politicians. He was a member of the consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution during the Duterte administration.

Imbes na pakinggan ng tao, masisira ‘yung appetite (Instead of listening, people immediately lose their appetite to consider it) because the first message that is sent is that [lawmakers] are doing it for [themselves], which is not right,” said Tayao.

And yet a proposal to adjust the term limit of elected officials was one of the first bills filed in the House of Representatives.

Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 to change the current six-year term limit of the president and vice president to five years with a possible reelection.

He also proposed tandem voting for the positions of the president and vice president.

For local officials and members of the House of Representatives, Gonzales proposed a term of five years with one possible reelection. Local elected officials currently serve three-year terms with two possible reelections.

A day after the SONA, Padilla was appointed chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments.


Photo from Facebook/Bongbong Marcos

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