Charter Change: PNoy’s Pandora’s Box
Gerry Cornejo | Columnist
In Greek mythology, the myth of Pandora’s box is considered one of the most descriptive myths of human behavior. Ancient Greeks used this myth not only to depict the weaknesses of humans, but also to address the question of why evil exists in the world.
According to myth, Pandora was the first woman on Earth created by gods, each one of them gave her a gift, thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”. She was given a box by the gods who told her that it contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Though trying hard to tame her curiosity, just as the gods had expected, she finally gave in and opened the box. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.
However, as she opened the box, she saw that all the evil spirits, illnesses and hardships that the gods had hidden in the box coming out. She was terrified and hastened to close the container, but every evil thing had escaped, except for one thing that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope. Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.
This is exactly what will happen if we allow Congress to convene itself into a constituent assembly for the alleged purpose of amending certain restrictive economic provisions in Section XII of the Philippine Constitution that would vastly enhance our country’s economic growth. The proposed constitutional amendments mostly revolve around foreign ownership of lands and public utilities, and, restriction on the practice of all professions in the Philippines to Filipino Citizens.
It sounds good, looks good on paper, if the so called restrictive economic provisions is truly all that will be amended. Now wait a minute – what about all this recent serious talk about extending the term of office of the president beyond the constitutionally mandated 6-year limit? Today, under Article 7, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the term of the President shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The incumbent President shall not be eligible for any re-election.
So those who oppose the charter change emphatically say that they will not allow this to happen – but aye, there’s the rub! It ought to be obvious, though it is not to most, that because the Philippine Congress can propose amendments or revisions right now, it is in fact already convened as a Constituent Assembly. Moreover the present House and Senate Rules merely stipulate that any such proposed amendment or revision undergoes the normal process of passing legislation, i.e., with both House and Senate approving the same using a three fourths majority rule, as required by the Constitution – ART. 17 Sec. 1. Any amendment to or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by the Congress, upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members.
Does the current administration have the three fourths majority? Probably! Can President Noynoy Aquino and his cohorts muster the necessary numbers in Congress to legally and constitutionally extend the president’s term beyond six years? Maybe! Could this lead to the downfall of President Noynoy Aquino? The answer to that question: let’s go back to the story of Pandora’s box!