According to congressional leaders in Manila and to President Rodrigo Duterte, their main project this year is to amend the Constitution in order to change the system of government from the presidential type to a federal one.

We are inclined to think that what needs to be amended in the native land is not the fundamental law, but the fundamental values of those presently in power.

There appears to be intense greed for power in the guise of patriotism.

Classic definition of scoundrel.

When Samuel Johnson, English writer who gave lasting contributions to English literature, made this famous pronouncement, “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” he did not provide any context how the remark arose, so we don’t really know for sure what was in Johnson’s mind at the time.

We were, however, told in history that Johnson was not indicting patriotism in general, only false patriotism.

In today’s language, fake patriotism.

Going back to the native country, the Filipino people are being told by some of their top officials in recent days, that it is patriotism that urges them to amend the Constitution.

Subject to the people’s approval in a plebiscite, they intend to create 11 States around the Philippines which will be autonomous from one central government.

Existing provinces will be bundled (some critics call this national gerrymandering) into States.

While waiting for implementation, assuming the Constitution is changed, the terms of offices of current officials, including the president, may be extended by up to 10 years.

Amending the Constitution weakens the institutions of government.

But, apparently, that’s not their concern.

Evidently, their concern is to strengthen their grip in their respective positions, extend their terms and, thus, maintain power.

The United States Constitution has been enforced for 229 years since ratification.

Yet, it has been amended only 27 times.

None of the amendments attempted to change America’s presidential system of government.

The unwritten British Constitution is 329 years old.

Never did they attempt to shift from their parliamentary system.

The Philippine Constitution is only 31 years old and, yet, the current officials want to overhaul it.

Honestly, we don’t feel the sacred document is the problem, which was drafted and framed by seasoned and truly patriotic Filipinos in 1986 elected by the Filipino people, which, formed themselves into an independent Constitutional Convention without expecting any benefits from it.

To us, the problem, are certain officials and their psychological make-up.

Their desired changes could be attained if existing legislations would be seriously implemented.

There are Philippine laws pertaining to local autonomy and fiscal independence together with term limits and anti-dynasty laws.

Those are among the desired changes which could be achieved without touching the fundamental law of the land.

The “disadvantage” though, is, their term will not be extended.

Patriots or scoundrels?

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