By Erik Espina
In last week’s column, I endorsed three amendments to the Constitution: (1) President/VP term reverted to the tried and tested “Quezonian formula” of four years with one re-election; (2) reinstating the four-year term for LGUs and congressmen, limited to three consecutive terms, for a total – similar to senators – of 12 years; (3) tri-archipelagic Senate (Luz-Vi-Minda) of 24, equally divided, with eight senators who are indigenous to each island group and senatorial election cycles confined to a specific archipelagic territory. However, the office remains national, as the whole country votes to fill the eight slots, maintaining the communion of the entire nation, bonding via the campaign, discourse, suffrage, and civic involvement thereafter. Returning to the original eight slots, as in the 1935 Constitution, permits the Senate to facilitate a quorum in the conduct of legislative business despite the country and Lower House on electoral mode.
With the revision of the two-party system, the North-South formula for president, VP, and an equivalent Senate lineup, representative of the dialect groupings is extinct. Subjected to the “political winds” and the over-arching popularity-churning power of media camped in Manila. I recall FVR’s watch exchanging with Governor Nur Misuari then advocating a regionalized Senate of 72. Such proposal would reduce the chamber to glorified senior congressmen gaining mandate in a limited constituency, while unfortunately increasing budget costs for the taxpayer to maintain a larger Upper House.
With my amendment, ARMM governors would gain greater influence over the candidacy and election of Mindanao senators. Meaning there would be more “religious” equality for higher political representation. Twenty-four senators equitably divided by eight, but voted nationally, predicates prospective Visayan or Mindanaoan president/VP as viable. The 8-senatorial grouping, ideally represents and oversees national and archipelagic concerns, including, facilitating economic, socio-cultural/infra development plans and programs in respective domains.
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PERSONAL: Deep condolences to the family of “Mistah” Lou Gaboy from PMA 76 Magilas and the family of John Melendres from 1901st RR Infantry Bde. Love and prayers.