Marcos backs economic Cha-cha, hits secession | Inquirer News

Marcos backs economic Cha-cha, hits secession

/ 05:30 AM February 09, 2024

Bongbong Marcos: 'Stronger Mindanao means stronger Philippines'

FILE PHOTO: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declares that a stronger Mindanao means a stronger Philippines. PPA POOL

President Marcos on Thursday fully supported efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution but the provisions on “economic matters alone” as he strongly rejected former President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Mindanao to secede, saying that it would destroy the nation.

In a speech to the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) during the celebration of Constitution Day in Makati City, Marcos said that while the Charter offered “no dynamism or flexibility” regarding the national territory, it is open to economic reforms.


“Allow me to make it clear. This administration’s position in introducing reforms for the Constitution extends to economic matters alone, for those strategically aimed at boosting our economy. Nothing more,” Marcos said.


His remarks eased lingering doubts that his administration was also considering changing certain political provisions in the Charter like term limits of elected officials.

Open to discussions

In an interview with GMA 7 last month, the President said he was open to discussions on amending term limits and other political provisions in the Constitution, but “later on.”

In January, Marcos said his immediate concern was easing the Charter’s economic provisions but that he was against land ownership by foreigners, which many politicians and business groups were pushing for.

He said his administration was “going to push hard to attract all foreign investments,” but he will not meddle in the disagreement between the two chambers of Congress over the people’s initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha).

“I will neither hinder this dialogue nor encroach on the prerogatives of Congress and the sovereign will of the Filipino people,” the President said, adding that he wanted a “healthy and democratic debate” on amending the Constitution for the country’s socioeconomic development.


Speaker: Being ‘makulit’

Philconsa president and Speaker Martin Romualdez, the President’s cousin, praised his assurance that his support for constitutional amendments was solely for economic reforms.

“At the risk of being makulit (persistent), we have been saying that we do not advocate any political amendment,” Romualdez said.

The President noted that many sectors, particularly the businessmen, have pointed to economic provisions that needed to be changed because these “inhibit our growth momentum.”

After over 30 years, these “restrictive provisions” now limited growth, foreign investment and efficient governance, and the country’s economic potential and global competitiveness, he said.

Reacting on this statement, Romualdez said the President “made it clear that these provisions hinder the entry of foreign investments and the potential for faster and inclusive economic growth, which in turn could translate into a better life for every Filipino.”

‘Preposterous proposal’

In his speech, the President firmly rejected his predecessor’s call for Mindanao to secede, saying that leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), mostly former Muslim separatist rebels, themselves have “repudiated this preposterous proposal.”

“The new call for a separate Mindanao is doomed to fail, for it is anchored on a false premise not to mention a sheer constitutional travesty,” Marcos said.

He “strongly” appealed “to all concerned to stop this call” as it was “a grave violation of our Constitution.”

“This is not the New Philippines that we are forming, it is in fact destroying our nation,” he said in Filipino.

It was the first time that the Chief Executive responded to this call by Duterte during a tirade last week where his predecessor also criticized him for his administration’s push for Cha-cha.

‘Another lousy president’

During a nighttime news conference in Davao City on Jan. 30, Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, said he would rather see an independent Mindanao since it had not developed “after so many presidents” and that there would be no hope for the country’s south because “there would be another lousy president.”

Earlier, Duterte called Marcos an addict, to which the President responded by attributing the former leader’s rants to the effects of years of using the opioid fentanyl.

The conflict between the current and the former chief executives blew up after the confidential funds of Vice President Sara Duterte in the 2024 budget were scrapped and the former president described the House of Representatives led by Romualdez as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country.

In the past week, members of Marcos’ Cabinet spoke up against the proposal for Mindanao’s secession as this would violate the Constitution, specifically the provision which defines the country’s territory and sovereignty.

Not one square inch

The President stood firm that he would not allow the Philippines’ national territory to be diminished, “not even by one square inch.”

“We will continue to defend from any threats, external and internal. We will not allow even an iota of suggestion of its breaking apart,” he said.

Marcos pointed out that other political leaders in Mindanao also rejected the proposal because “there is already genuine and effective local autonomy throughout our country, especially in the BARMM, without compromising our national integrity in the slightest degree.”

He said the Constitution called for a “united undivided country” and “eternal cohesion.” “For this reason, unlike in other constitutions, there is nothing in ours that allows the breaking up of this union, such as an exit provision,” Marcos said.He added that the Charter does not recognize the right to rebellion and his administration will continue to enforce laws that punish it.

Senior military officials warned that the move to dismember the country would be met by force.

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Marcos said he would uphold his position not only during his presidency “but up to my dying breath.”

“We must galvanize our people and rally them to preserve our republic and everything that our flag symbolizes, its three stars and its sun. We should not turn our backs on our flag and what our ancestors and heroes fought for,” he said. —With a report from Inquirer Research

TAGS: Bongbong Marcos Jr., Cha-cha, Constitution

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