presidentiables stand on cha-cha and arroyo as speaker

we are publishing here full article from PDI’s Talk Of The Town to get to know the presidentiables’ stand on issues. (source:

MANILA, Philippines—Every president after the Aquino administration supported moves to amend the 1987 Constitution. Fidel Ramos tried it through Pirma, a signature campaign that sought to lift term limits; Joseph Estrada through Concord (Constitutional Correction for Development) that pushed for allowing foreigners to own land; and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo via a signature campaign and later through a constituent assembly that called for a shift to a parliamentary form of government.

Will the next President also push for Charter change (Cha-cha)?

Know their stand from their answers to the following questions:

Are there provisions in the 1987 Constitution that need to be amended? If yes, what are these? Why?

Are you in favor of a shift to a parliamentary form of government? If yes, what mode (constitutional convention, constituent assembly or people’s initiative aka signature campaign)? When do you think the country should adopt a parliamentary government? Why a parliamentary system?

Would you support President Macapagal-Arroyo should she seek the speakership in the House of Representatives? Why? [Ms Arroyo is running for representative in her home province, Pampanga.]


Benigno Aquino III
Liberal Party

The need for amendments to the Constitution, and whether there’s a public clamor have yet to be determined. I will support the creation of a body to determine these. If the Constitution must be amended, it should be through a constitutional convention.

The current administration more than anything else has shown us that the 1987 Constitution has loopholes that could be abused in order to stay in power. I am in favor of tightening the Constitution against these abuses at the start of the presidential term to avoid suspicion of foul play.

Nobody has presented yet an argument that makes a parliamentary shift urgent which shows that the country is really at risk with the present form of government that you have to change it.

No (I will not support President Macapagal-Arroyo should she seek the speakership in the House of Representatives.).

Having Ms Arroyo as the Speaker would make it hard for us to find closure to all of the anomalies of her administration. The Liberal Party and our allies in the House will oppose her plans. Submitted by Aquino’s staff


Joseph Estrada
Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino

Didn’t I start that with Concord? The provision on the ownership of land except agricultural land. I will let foreigners own land. The only ones benefiting from the current provision are big-time realtors like the Ayalas. They buy several hundreds of thousands of hectares and speculate. In the meantime the property remains idle.

If we allow foreigners to come in, there will be competition. If foreigners are allowed to buy land, they will develop it. Jobs will be generated. At the same time, we will collect taxes on idle lands.

No (I’m not in favor of a parliamentary form of government.). This is the only time that the marginalized people or the masa can have that equality with the elites to elect a President.

Under the parliamentary set-up, the masa will not be able to elect the President they want. It will be their representatives.

I am amenable to a parliamentary form with a strong President, who will be elected (by the voters).

If I have my way, I prefer a constitutional commission. I’ll let all sectors—the farmers, workers—choose the best five among them. Thirty percent will come from the academe—the retired deans of UP, Ateneo.

A constitutional convention would be very expensive. Besides, the politicians would again come in. The politicians would again win there.

(GMA as Speaker) is so demeaning to the Office of the President. In the first place, she should not run for any office. She has become the President for nine years, longer than the six-year term under the Constitution. That’s more than enough.

She will have undue advantage. That’s why the incumbent President is prohibited from running for reelection. She will have undue advantage over any opponent because of government resources at her command. It’s the same thing she did to FPJ. She used Pagcor, the PCSO, public works, road users’ tax, agriculture, fertilizer funds. She used the police. She used the military. Interview by Norman Bordadora


Richard Gordon

There is a lot to amend in our Constitution. First, do we want a presidential or parliamentary form of government?

If it’s parliamentary, then we should have a multi-party system. If it’s presidential, we should have a two-party system. But I think the parliamentary system is not suited to us.

Look at how we quickly change our minds on our Presidents and how quickly our congressmen change loyalties. We should consider the parliamentary system once we have developed a true party system.

Second, I want the bill of duties and obligations for citizens to be amended. When I take over the government, I will set the tone. The people have rights but they also have duties.

Third is in terms of land use. I will open up foreign investments in land but they should not own mineral, forest or agricultural lands. They can go on joint ventures. And if they get commercial or residential lots, they cannot sit on it for three years. They have to utilize it.

Fourth, I would open up media for foreign participation so we will really have a competitive media and better paid journalists to remove the AC-DC (attack-collect and defend-collect) culture. We don’t really have a free press. Whoever has the money plays the tune. Maybe not all the media, but certainly we all notice this.

Fifth, I would remove the constrictions on bases or bringing in foreign troops to our country. Why are we voluntarily restricting ourselves from calling on an ally to help us? Do we still have to amend the Constitution if we are invaded or if we have a problem?

Sixth, I will also remove term limits except for the President. I would like local government leaders to have six-year terms. The voters should be the one to decide the term limits.

If she (GMA) is elected member of the House Representatives, she can be a Speaker. I would not necessarily support her. I would look for a better alternative. I don’t even favor her running for Congress.

But how will I deal with a House with GMA as Speaker? The President has plenty of powers. The Speaker is always subject to the President’s favor. Interview by Edson C. Tandoc Jr.


Manuel Villar
Nacionalista Party

I personally believe that a review might be warranted since the Constitution was made when the Philippines, the world and the circumstances were different. However, I leave it up to our people.

If elected, I will consider calls for Charter change but that will not be a priority. The tools are available to improve institutions to spur economic and political development. The next President must first get the trust and confidence of the people by acting immediately to address the more pressing needs such as jobs and opportunities, food, shelter and security. Whether or not there will be a clamor to change the Constitution, it should not be a cause to divide the nation.

The economic provisions should be reviewed to ensure that citizens will benefit in the form of long-term opportunities and to make the country competitive for foreign investment.

(On the shift to a parliamentary form of government), I have no preference one way or another because I see our country’s problem as more a lack of leadership.

No (I won’t support GMA should she seek the speakership.) She is not my party mate and I will support a Nacionalista Party candidate for Speaker to ensure that the party’s objective of poverty alleviation can be carried out legislatively. Submitted by Villar’s staff


Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal

We need to oppose the drive of foreign investors and their local political and business partners to scrap and replace the nationalistic and protectionist provisions in our Constitution, specifically those reserving ownership of land and media to Filipino citizens. We should also guard against the further opening up of the country to US military presence in exchange for widening politicians’ privileges.

If there is a need for Charter change, it should be for expanding, not abolishing pro-Filipino provisions.

However, this progressive constitutional change can only come about under a genuinely nationalist, pro-Filipino government leadership and presidency, which has yet to be realized.

In the meantime, patriotic Filipinos should oppose any further reduction of their national wealth, sovereignty and patrimony through Charter change. Interview by Jerry Esplanada


Nicanor Perlas

Remove constitutional bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Elections as well as the Supreme Court from the appointive power of the President so we’ll have authentic checks and balances.

No (I’m not in favor of a shift to a parliamentary form of government.). A parliamentary system presumes the presence of principled political parties that are oriented on platforms, not personality. Under present conditions, we’ll only end up in a legal dictatorship.

No (I won’t support GMA seeking the speakership.). In fact if I’m in Pampanga, I will tell them that it will be one of their worst decisions if they put her back in power after how she destroyed the institutions of this country. Interview DJ Yap


Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

The “protector provision” of the Constitution which causes a lot of interpretations must be changed. (Article II, Section 3: “Civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory).”

It’s used sometimes as a justification for the Armed Forces to settle a political dispute, which to me is not the right way to go.

I’m in favor of foreigners owning residential, industrial and commercial lands, segregating a few areas for low-cost housing. I’m OK with total ownership. But not agricultural, mineral or forest lands.

The provision on the AFP chief of staff also should be amended clearly so that he shall have a three-year fixed term unless removed for cause or other weighty reasons. Right now, even if you legislate it, you cannot because of that constitutional provision.

A modified parliamentary system would be good because Filipinos still need a national leader as head of government. Let me qualify that the “how you change the Constitution” is not as, if not more important than the “what.” So I will only support constitutional change through a Con-con (constitutional convention) at the proper time when people are satisfied that the process is not for the purpose of instituting a hidden agenda.

We should revisit the debate through a Con-con because the Constitution looks backward, not forward. Maybe, I might even settle for a unicameral-presidential system. Let’s debate the merits of both. And before a parliamentary system is set up, you have to institutionalize a competent civil service. There’s a lot of improvements that can be done. The civil service is too fixed on degrees and examinations.

That (supporting GMA should she seek the speakership) will be a party decision. Interview by TJ Burgonio


Eduardo Villanueva
Bangon Pilipinas

I’m entertaining the possibility of supporting a presidential-federalism system of government like in America if that is the way to give justice to other regions, like economic-pie sharing. What belongs to Mindanao should go to Mindanao, what belongs to the Visayas should go back to the Visayas. Right now, most of Mindanao’s wealth benefits the central government.

So, there should be equitable and just sharing of the economic pie. Because of the problem of Mindanao, I am inclined to—this is not the official stand of the Bangon Pilipinas—favor a federal but presidential system because I don’t want to take away the right of Filipinos to vote for their President.

My dream is to have a genuine constitutional convention whose delegates are elected by the people and to let the former exercise their duties and functions.

I will respect the consensus of the House but I will not support GMA’s speakership. She is already overstaying as President. I don’t want to be a part of a tragic chapter of history. She violated the six-year term limit through a technicality. She’s in power for nine years. Now she wants to be a congresswoman. If we’re after the spirit of the Constitution she should not be allowed to run anymore. Interview by Dona Pazzibugan


JC de los Reyes
Ang Kapatiran

Give our Constitution a chance. Charter change at this time will not help and heal this suffering nation whose wounds the majority congressmen have inflicted.

There is a need to remind these elected big shots that it is ultimately about the good of the Filipino people, a good that must be built on a foundation of genuine love and public service, not immoral compromises.

The most overwhelming problem this country faces is not the form of government, but those in government—that inbred culture, which allows unbridled corruption causing enslaving poverty. All these weaken and haunt our institutions that further structural injustices. At the end of the day, it is all about greed … maintaining material wealth, political influence and power.

We must then conclude that this indeed is a moral problem in need of a moral solution. And the irony of ironies? It is in giving our Constitution a chance to take shape and come into its own, whose promise is yet to be realized in the minds and hearts of Filipinos where it may develop its sinews and gather its strength. This is where the moral challenge lies. Interview by Jerome Aning

  1. leonardo
    March 28, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Would you support President Macapagal-Arroyo should she seek the speakership in the House of Representatives? Why? [Ms Arroyo is running for representative in her home province, Pampanga.]

    — big NO, we have enough of GLORIA. Let her rest and enjoy her grandchildren. Abandon her bid for congressional seat, then take care of the 1st gentleman. and stay out of the country and tour the world with your family.

  1. March 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm
  2. March 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm
  3. May 2, 2010 at 9:09 am
  4. May 2, 2010 at 10:06 am
  5. May 21, 2010 at 9:24 am

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