Two legal luminaries recently came out to defend President Rodrigo Duterte’s persistence on dividing the Philippines into federal states, which his allies in Congress are endeavoring to achieve via Charter Change (Cha-Cha).
These two respected personalities are De La Salle University (DLSU) professors Dr. Julio Teehankee and Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta. They aired just what they thought about the Duterte administration’s Cha-Cua attempt during a book launch over the weekend at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig.
Teehankee is among the 19 appointees to the consultative body tasked to help Congress in coming up with necessary amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
Meanwhile, Villacorta, Teehankee’s former professor, served as a delegate to the 1986 Constitutional Commission that framed the present Charter.
The BGC event, which featured the launch of the book, “The Quest for a Federal Republic: The PDP Laban Model of Philippine Federalism 1.0,” was the first time that the elder law expert spoke on the contentious Cha-Cha efforts.
“Again I am honored and fortunate to have been included in the select few to have been given the unenviable task of reviewing the Constitution,” Teehankee said.
“We may have our personal preferences, but once we take our role as members of the committee we will keep an open mind,” he vowed.
Teehankee went on to remind the public that Duterte, who won the 2016 presidential race in landslide fashion, actually possesses the mandate to pursue federalism.
“We all know that for the first time in our country’s political history, a president who ran on platform of federalism actually won. So let us not begrudge the president for pursuing his campaign promise,” he said.
For his part, Villacorta, who was given microphone time by Teehankee during the book affair, said: “Maybe you’re surprise that I’ve not been speaking out.”
“There’s a right time to come out in the open, because the majority of the former commissioners are against amending the Constitution,” he said, putting proper perspective on his opinion.
“I am open to amendments to the Constitution because as pointed out by Dr. Teehankee, there is no such thing as a perfect Constitution. It is a living document that must respond to the demands of changing times.
“Not only should you judge the fundamental law based on the requirements of the present and the future, but equally important is it’s record in addressing and solving the problems of Philippine Society to this day,” the white-haired Villacorta said.
According to him, the existing Charter hasn’t really been effective in ending longstanding problems like corruption and poverty.
Villacorta went on to hail Duterte, comparing him to great leaders like the late Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.
“We admire the likes of Lee Kuan Yew but we’re afraid of any leader who would demonstrate courage and determination not only in words but in swift action.
“We have a strong leader but his hands are tied because here we have a constitution that would protect more and ensure the victory and success of a weak leader,” he said without elaborating.
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