‘PH province of China’ not a joke to Chinese leaders: ex-chief justice Davide

March 1, 2018

CEBU — Chinese leaders won’t consider as joke President Duterte’s mention of the Philippines as a province of China, former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. said Thursday, reiterating his opposition to change the Constitution during a Senate public hearing on Charter change (Cha-cha) here.

Davide noted that government’s prioritizing Cha-cha and federalism has distracted it from other important issues like territorial disputes, human rights violations, and national security.

“China is practically flying its flag on the West Philippine Sea, and is trying to grab our Benham Rise,” he told a jam-packed Cebu Capitol social hall.

“Last February 19, before Chinese businessmen, the President mentioned of the Philippines as a province of China. Malacanang spokesperson Harry Roque explained that it was just a joke of the President. But China will not consider it a joke. Chinese leaders are not known to be jokers,” he added.

Davide, who was among those who drafted the 1987 Constitution, said Cha-cha proponents promise that federalism, a major part of their Cha-cha, will result in a good life for the people.

“The new paradise is not for the people, it is for politicians who seek for power, fortune, and fame. And to soak themselves into this power. And to acquire more fortune and fame,” he said.

In contrast, former Cebu Governor Lito Osmena said “federalism will provide the freedom that will ensure unprecedented prosperity.”

Osmena said only very simple amendments to the Constitution are all that are required to implement the right federal system, which in a globalized economy would eliminate “short-sighted protectionist laws.”

“A federal state of Cebu will provide us with a per capita income more than the United States or Singapore in no time at all,” he said in a position paper read by his son.

But Davide repeated what he said during the January 17 Senate Cha-cha hearing: “The shift to federalism is a lethal experiment. A fatal leap, a plunge to death.”

He enumerated the various ill effects of the proposed changes to the Constitution:

· Extensions of the terms of incumbent elected officials, which should mean the postponement/cancellation of the May 2018 elections;

· No term limits for officials;

· Providing for the transition period for federalism which could last for many years with the incumbent president in power;

· The lifting of the restriction of the exercise of presidential power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus;

· The removal of certain judicial powers of the judiciary and abolition of the Judicial and Bar Council; and

· The lifting of the Filipino Citizenship requirement in the national patrimony and economic provisions. This lifting would mean the outright surrender of the Philippines to foreigners at no cost to them.

Of the 15 resource persons who spoke at the hearing chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan, who heads the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, more expressed their opposition to Cha-cha.

Among the resource persons were Atty. Jose Glenn Capanas of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Mayor Ronald Allan Sesante, who is acting president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Cebu Chapter; Jamil Faisal Adiong of Akbayan; Herminio Agsalona of Patano Multipurpose Cooperative; Atty. Baldomero Estenzo, who is dean of the College of Law of the University of Cebu; and Atty. Rene Burdeos, regional director of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Hundreds attended the hearing, including some who went to the venue after seeing it on Facebook Live.

Pangilinan said he plans to hold two to three more hearings before submitting the committee report by the end March.


Links of Charter Change Hearing in Cebu

1. https://www.facebook.com/officialkikopangilinan/videos/10156219352068200/

2. https://www.facebook.com/officialkikopangilinan/videos/10156219614493200/

3. https://www.facebook.com/officialkikopangilinan/videos/10156219713643200/