Seven Constitutions

Manila Bulletin, July 20, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Seven Constitutions


We, the Sovereign Filipino People, by Rene V. Sarmiento, puts together in one book all seven Constitutions of the country. As I said earlier, a comparative study would give us a better understanding of the forces in history that influenced the evolution of our fundamental law from 1897 to 1987.

The Biak na Bato Charter, patterned after the 1895 Cuban Constitution, intended to be in force for two years was signed by 52 members led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The draft which vested governance in a Supreme Council composed of a President, a Vice President, and four secretaries - Foreign Relations, War, Interior, and Treasury.

It was replaced by the 1899 Malolos Constitution prepared by 19 members who worked on three drafts - The Mabini Plan, (program of the republic), the Paterno Plan (based on the1868 Spanish Constitution), and the Calderon Plan (based on the Constitutions of France, Belgium, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Brazil) Its government (parliamentary in structure) was considered the most democratic constitution in Asia.

There were 202 delegates to the 1935 Constitutional Convention, 20 to the Preparatory Commission of 1943, 320 to the 1973 Constitutional Convention, and 48 to the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

The establishment of adequate and complete system of education has been a priority since the Malolos Constitution. The 1935, 1973, and 1987 Charters spell this out clearly by stating that free primary education be provided and that all schools shall aim to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience, and vocational efficiency, and that higher education shall enjoy academic freedom. Critical and creative thinking skills, in addition to patriotism and love of country, were underscored in the 1987 Charter.

The 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions mandated that all lands in the public domain, waters, and natural resources belong to the State which shall have control over their exploitation. Both the 1973 and 1987 Charter limited ownership and management of mass media to Filipino citizens. The 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions recognized the primacy of preservation and advancement of Filipino culture and scientific research.

The important role of the military was established in all seven Constitutions.

The 1973 and 1987 Constitutions recognized the supremacy of the civilian over the military and renounced war as an instrument of national policy.

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