RP as Political Teenager

Manila Bulletin, July 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

RP as Political Teenager


Byline: Romeo V Pefianco

(Editors note: Reading politicians faces and pronouncements could mislead readers as noted by the author.)

RP is not an old country politically and its institutions and maturity may be reckoned from the 1935 Commonwealth government and Constitution.

Lets deduct 13 years and five months of martial law regime that thoroughly destroyed most of our democratic institutions, making our republic some 56.5 years old to this day, NOT 70, from 1935 to 2005.

Our period of tutelage under US rule lasted 28 years from 1907 the election of Filipino representatives to the First Assembly to 1935 when the Filipino ruling class was entrusted with full executive, legislative, and judicial powers for the first time.

Tradition of stretching Constitutions

Our first lesson in extending presidential term was put to a test in 1940, when the ruling class headed by Quezon, Osmena and other ilustrado leaders of the National Assembly amended the 1935 Constitution. The amendments provided for: 1) two four-year terms for the president and vice-president in lieu of one six-year stint and 2) renaming the Assembly as Congress and restoring the Senate as the Upper House.

Extension based on health

The ailing president asked for a second extension of his presidential term that was supposed to end on Nov. 15, 1943. The US Congress granted the extension until Quezons death on August 1, 1944. All told the presidential and vice-presidential terms of six and eight years were finally exceeded by eight months and 16 days.

Longest extension

The longest extension of a presidential term was made possible by martial law from December 30, 1973, to February 25, 1986, or 12 years, one month and 25 days.

The constitutional limit against extending the presidents term of office has been converted into custom or usage.

Political flattery

This week is the period of political flattery as local officials took turns in assuring the Palace that they would set up "regional republics" if the situation ripens into a forced interruption of the presidential term and duties. …

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