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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, January 19, 2018
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

A lethal experiment?

Ninfa Leonardia There's a new requirement now for couples intending to marry in Baguio. They have to plant a tree before they can be issued a marriage license. That sounds very easy, but will nobody question it for being unconstitutional or something without basis? But then, those planning to wed may find it no problem, unless they are superstitious and fear that the survival of the tree could be a gauge for their union – if it does not thrive, it may be taken to mean their marriage won't, either.

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As for the Constitution, there is now a big problem over the move to amend it that is causing a big rift between the two Houses of Congress. The Lower House that had somehow appropriated the right to be referred to as “Congress”, has already decided they will do it via the Con-Ass, or constitutional assembly way. However, the Senate has put its foot down on the idea of them voting together, and members seem inclined to having a constitutional convention, or Con-con, which means the people can participate and express their choice, too.

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At least the Senate is showing its backbone, and there is even a threat to expel any member who goes for the way of the House. In the forefront of the opposition to the plan of the House are Senators Ping Lacson and Franklin Drilon, who aren't among the favorite senators of the President. Maybe they still do not believe in what many politicians believe now that what Rody wants, Rody gets. But isn't it upsetting to think that what they are having a tug of war over is our Constitution, supposed to be the highest law of the land?

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Why is it important, even necessary to let our people have a say in the changes in our Constitution? For one there is the proposed shift to Federalism which is a foreign matter to them. Not only should it be thoroughly and comprehensively explained all over the country first, but even with that, they should certainly be allowed to choose, or express their preference. What if it will take billions of pesos for the exercise? Surely our future is worth it.

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Is it therefore, just coincidence that the Philippines has slid down in the 2018 world freedom rankings? The ranking body called Freedom House noted that this could be among the effects of the notorious extra-judicial killings that stocked the world, especially in the early days of this administration. A consolation is that we were rated only “partly free”, unlike others that were slammed as “not free”. Is there any connection in the results of the ranking to the fact that the top three who scored as perfectly, or 100 percent free, were the cold ones like Finland, Norway and Sweden?

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The recent move of the Securities and Exchange Commission to revoke the license of the media outfit Rappler will certainly not help in improving our country's Freedom House ranking.
Already, the reaction of media entities all over the country must already have gotten notice worldwide and further confirmed that “partly free” rating, or probably put us further down. One of the top, if not the head, of Rappler is, I believe of Filipino blood, even if she might have adopted another citizenship, and we should even be proud of that fact. But sometimes we are famous for shooting ourselves in the foot.

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Two party-list congressmen have filed a bill seeking the transfer of the seat of government to Davao. I think even President Duterte will look upon them as sip-sip for that. Why Davao, which is in the southern and far end of the Philippine map? Wasn't there also a proposal earlier to move Malacañang to Negros? Not because we are Negrenses, but our island is certainly better positioned, being in the center of the country, and more accessible to other provinces and cities. Not that we are enthusiastic about such move being realized – who wants to face a problem like what Manila is facing now, in a few years?

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By the way, I am glad that such highly respected and knowledgeable people like former Chief Justice Hilario Davide are coming out to give their views on Federalism. Davide has not minced his words about it and described it to the Senate as a “lethal experiment”, adding that it does not suit our country and people. Who will listen to him? A lot of our countrymen might, but can their objections stop the rush towards it as evident in the actions of our lawmakers, especially in the Lower House? And he had strongest words to add, calling it “fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell…” as quoted in the Philippine Star. Great God in heaven, save us from that!*

 

 

 

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