By Hannah Torregoza
Despite House lawmakers’ move to restore Vice President Leni Robredo in the line of succession to the presidency during the transition to the proposed federal form of government, opposition Senator Leila de Lima sensed that the original draft was nothing but a preemptive power grab by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The detained senator said Arroyo’s proposed charter change might as well have abolished the Office of the Vice President as if merely removing Robredo from the line of succession would hide her motivation in pushing for the latter’s virtual ouster from office.
“It is, therefore, more than a coincidence that this feature was belatedly pulled out of Arroyo’s draft charter as soon as Duterte assured his allies that he is free of cancer,” De Lima said.
“But this is no guarantee that it won’t be re-inserted at some other time,” she said.
She also noted that in order to sweeten the deal for members of Congress, the proposed charter further removed term limits for elective officials as well as the proscription on political dynasties.
“This is a Pandora’s box of self-perpetuating and self-serving politicians waiting to be opened,” she stressed.
“It is nothing but a reversal of democratization — of reforms introduced in the 1987 Constitution to expand the selection of elective officials to include those coming from the grassroots who will be able to genuinely represent the people more than the entrenched political clans,” she pointed out.
A vocal critic of the Duterte administration, de Lima said the country’s democracy is in its death throes now under the present regime.
“Arroyo and her allies in the House of Representatives now even want to compete against him for the job of being its gravedigger. We are witnessing a contest in the corruption of power.”
“The people are reduced to watching from the sidelines, pre-occupied with their deteriorating living conditions and scrimping for the next meal. Above them, meat is thrown around in the feast of gluttons who can never have enough of power,” de Lima lamented.