Con or Ass: We can misbehave!

The Ass, it is argued, get things done faster. But why should we be in a rush, unless we want to go about the tedious and dangerous rigmarole of re-writing our Constitution periodically?

Festina lente…Make haste slowly. The Romans were wise, and they could have been giving us sound advice now. When you have a senator like Manny Pacquiao who is now obsessed with preparing for his next bout – after having solemnly promised the electorate that he would be a full-time senator – and many members of the House of Representatives who are nowhere near the premises of the Legislature while bills are debated, how do you get Their Honors to work on the re-writing of a Constitution?

Speaker Alvarez has done a Solomon: Ass still, but add to that a Com — a Constitutional Commission that will study, debate, tear at each other and finally submit to Congress a draft of the revisions.  What the Speaker has therefore proposed is some kind of a tertium quid, a middle way.

The members of the Commission will be selected and appointed by the President. But quite clearly, eventually, it is Congress’ call and it has happened many a time in the past that carefully crafted drafts are eventually mangled beyond recognition after coming from floor debates and the horse-trading that is endemically part of Legislative business!

I am flattered that Speaker Alvarez mentioned my name among the possible members of the Commission, but there are others who should be in it as well: Adolf Azcuna, Hilarion Aquino, Artemio Panganiban, Antonio Nachura, Clarita Carlos, Eliseo Mercado, Tony La Vina, Sed Candelaria, and millennial like Karen Jimeno, and other truly thoughtful people who think aright, write succinctly and will not have to be called upon when the Constitution is enshrined to have to explain what shall have been written!

Con or Ass? Ass alone, or Ass with Com? Really, it all depends on the way we behave, and I pray that we all behave well, as befits a nation that gets to work on its fundamental law, its basic political contract! –


The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College and professor VI, Cagayan State University.