Duterte bloc wields social media to push federalism

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By Psyche Roxas-Mendoza

Second of three parts

PRESIDENTS have consistently attempted to change the 1987 Constitution that was crafted during the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino. The effort—from the time of Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph E. Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno C. Aquino III—spans almost 21 years.

None of these attempts proved successful.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Aquino blocked every maneuver to change the Constitution, citing “extension of term limits” as reason for her protest.

Retired University of the Philippines Mass Communication Prof.Benito O. Lim said, however, that “Aquino’s anti-Charter-change [Cha-cha] role notwithstanding, the failure to effect Cha-cha is more a result of its proponents’ inability to reach out to the public and explain Charter change in detail.”

“Wala silang detalye [They offer no details],” Lim said. “There is a call to action, but not enough detail on the reasons for the call. They should explain the advantages local governments will have, and the benefits that can be derived by all from Charter change.”


AS stated in the 1987 Constitution, there are three ways to amend or revise the Constitution. All three require ratification by a majority vote in a national referendum.

The first option is by constituent assembly, where members of the Senate and the House of Representatives convene to propose constitutional amendments. Three-fourths of all the senators and representatives should vote in favor of an amendment before such can pass.

Holding a constitutional convention (Con-con) is the second option to change the Charter. Delegates to the Con-con are elected and those elected will craft the Charter amendment or amendments.

The third option is through people’s initiative (PI), where 12 percent of the voting population (at least 3 percent for each voting district) will sign the petition stating the amendments to the Constitution.

The PI option was chosen during the administration of Mr. Ramos. Known as People’s Initiative for Modernization and Action (Pirma), the move called for a shift from presidential to a parliamentary form of government and the lifting of term limits of elected officials.

Paid ad

A full-page, paid advertisement of Pirma that came out on December 5, 1996, in the Manila Standard newspaper established the accomplishments of then-President Ramos and the wisdom of changing the Charter. It said:

“For millions of Filipinos, President Ramos has been a good leader. The successful hosting of [the] Apec [Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit] is just one of his government’s achievements that make us proud to be Filipinos. There have been many more accomplishments during his term that have given Filipinos confidence and hope in the future,” the statement said in its introductory paragraph.

The statement added that “to prepare the Philippines for its ‘coming out party,’ [Mr. Ramos] pushed for a program of peace and development. He reached out to communist, military and Muslim rebels. He solved the energy problem. Recently, he forged peace with the Muslims of the South and formed the SPCPD that has successfully drawn multimillion investment for the development of Mindanao.”

“He [Mr. Ramos] achieved economic reforms through democratic means against all odds. Today the Philippine economy is robust—with an expected GNP [gross national product] of more than 7 percent this year, inflation at a single-digit level and international reserves at a record high. Both exports and imports have increased tremendously and the Philippine stock market is one of the best performing in Asia.

“During his presidency, the Philippines has regained its prestige. For this, [Mr.] Ramos deserves credit and praise. Among leaders, [Mr.] Ramos has been unstinting in promoting his country and its role in the world state. ‘The Philippines is Asia’s New Tiger,’” declared Newsweek magazine.

“But what of the future? Will the success of the Ramos government just fade into the past? What will happen to [Mr.] Ramos’s program of reforms? In the next few weeks and months, the Filipino people must assert their right and power through a people’s initiative as enshrined in the Constitution to make sure that [Mr.] Ramos’s program of democratic economic reforms will continue to be sustained.”

No names or signatures appeared at the end of the statement by Pirma except for the group’s Makati City post office box number 2897.

Pirma’s campaign to change the Charter was challenged by a protest rally organized by the Catholic Church on September 21, 1997. Police estimate of the crowd was half-a-million people.

On September 23, 1997, the Supreme Court, then under Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, dismissed Pirma’s petition to amend the 1987 Constitution through PI.

To be continued


Image credits: King Rodriguez, Office of the City Mayor Davao via AP


  1. The 1987 constitution was crafted with Bias towards the religion of Islam. The word Muslim was mentioned 3 times in the constitution. All three times was to refer to Mindanao as “Muslim Mindanao”. They slipped this through in 1987, then in 1989 created the ARMM. Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.

    The Philippines violates the Separation of Church and State in its 1987 Constitution1.

    The Philippines violates the preamble of the constitution: “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”

    —– it violates the principle of equality by putting one religion above others

    (Article II, Section 6): “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”
    —- The government of the Philippines must never violate the “separation of church and state”.

    (Article III, Section 5): “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

    “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion”: This means that laws must never be created to favor, uphold, honor, or respect any religion.

    “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”: We have the freedom of religion. the government must respect that.

    Article 6, section 29 (2): states “No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion..”

    —- No law must be created that would finance a religion or financially benefit only the specific followers of certain religions. i.e. Must not financially benefit Christians, Muslims or any followers of any religion.

    The Philippine government violates all 4 points. The Philippine government financially supports the religion of Islam via the NCMF, the ARMM and now the Bangsamoro.

      • They can delete or they can lie but the truth will prevail. Bangsamoro is based on lies. Federalism in the Philippines is pushed by only two types of people:
        1. The first one is by the Muslims (Moros) because they want an Islamic state of their own. Federalism guarantees them an Islamic State.
        2. The second is by the greedy (Kanya-Kanya) mentality who are also the proponents of political dynasties.

  2. Bangsamoro …pariah state. And when they learned to use this pariah state to make money from our taxes then it became important to make sure that the Bangsamoro remain separate from the Filipino mainstream. Without this marginalization of the Bangsamoro ARRM has no raison d étre. The insistence on secession will cease. Most big mindanao clans are mixed, in the sense that they have both Christians and Muslims in one clan. That their marginalization cannot simply be solved by economic betterment, that it is anathema to the Bangsamoro soul to compromise with the Tagalog mainland or that Spain is not the enemy (as they were never conquered) but that it is the Government of the Philippine Republic (GPR) that is the true enemy, is pure fabrication.

  3. When foreign dignitaries and international investors come to the Philippines, they meet the mainstream media. They don’t open the FB of the dutertians. If Duterte alienates the media, he will lose touch with current events. He will not get the big picture. He will get reports from his dutertians who don’t have qualified reporters on the field whose job it is to do the detective work so that a good narrative is formed. So duterte’s way of getting a clear picture of an on going crises is to gossip with his FB fans who have been formed into something called the duterte Social Media Army


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