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HISTORICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION

By Alan S. Cajes

Democratic Space: The Micro Environment


The successful February "revolution" of 1986 gave the Filipinos what political scientists call democratic space. According to Francisco Nemenzo, "The Philippine uprising of 22-25 February 1986 may be considered as an authentic revolution on three criteria: it was an extra-constitutional process, the masses played the decisive role, and the change of ruler opened up a vast democratic space for the continuing struggle for fundamental changes in society."1 The notion of democratic space is associated with the notion of liberty. In fact, at the center of the democratic space is liberty. In the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas: "The February Revolution was largely a revolution which re-established liberty in that it dismantled the oppressive government that was led by President Marcos." 2 Thus, democratic space can be described as an environment wherein one exercises maximum liberty. The opening up of democratic space meant many things to Filipinos. Foremost of which is giving them the opportunity to chart anew their future as individuals and as a nation. Democratic space became associated with opportunities for development, development being the "multiplicity of options"3. And the potential benefits of democratic space cut across ideologies, political affiliations, social classes, and geographical locations. Another effect is the idea of both ideological and structural changes and transitions. Specific examples include the following: a) b) c) Change from state capitalism and crony capitalism to the breaking up of monopolies against the people's interest; From center dominance of the periphery --by Metro Manila-- based politicoeconomic elite to growth and strengthening of sub-centers in the periphery; From political and administrative centralization to balanced political and administrative centralization and decentralization and local autonomy,

Francisco Nemenzo, A Nation in Ferment: Analysis of the Philippine Revolution, The Aquino Alternative (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1986), pp. 2853. 2 M. Rajaretnam, editor, The Aquino Alternative (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1986), p. 135. 3 Prof. Florentino H. Hornedo uses this phrase to explain development.
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d) e)

including special autonomous regions for the Muslims and cultural minorities; From hegemonic, one party system dominated by a coalition of elite leaders to two-party or multi-party system consisting of both elite-dominated parties and vertical personal alliances with similar ideologies, and From elitist and paternalistic organization dominated by politicians to more egalitarian and mass-based organizations led by ideological leaders.4

Several of the ideological and structural reforms are reflected in the 1987 Constitution.

Postmodernism: The Macro Environment


The spirit of Postmodernism was already in the air when "people power" hit EDSA in February 1986. It may be said that the EDSA phenomenon was a product of Postmodernism itself. Certain features of this global trend that have direct bearing to the Philippines are Heterotopia, Counter-Hegemonic Oppositionality, Leveling of Hierarchies, and Concern for Popular and Mass Culture. The notion of democratic space is akin to Heterotopia, which describes what Steven Connor calls "whole centerless universe". As F. H. Hornedo puts it, "Heterotopia could mean anything goes. It means the field is wide open for anyone to come in. The exclusion of exclusivities is precisely to allow for maximum liberty for creative innovation."5 Counter-Hegemonic Oppositionality may be characterized by a "rejection of hegemony" and a "tendency to be oppositionist to the powerful in all forms of society". "It is committed to oppose de facto as well as attempts to subjugation of people by people in any manner whatsoever". 6

Jose V. Abueva, The Filipino Nation in Search of Itself: Towards Independence, Democracy and Development in a Just World Order, Philippines at the Crossroads: Some Visions for the Nation (Center for Research and Communication, 1986), pp. 907921.
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Florentino H. Hornedo, Notes on Postmodern Literary Theory and Criticism Unitas (September, 1995), pp. 53-76. 6 Ibid., p. 70.
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This idea helps us understand, for example, why the Philippine Constitution guarantees the right of workers to strike in accordance with law, why it recognizes the right of the people to recall elected public officials, why it provides for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP, and why it calls for the abolition of paramilitary groups and political dynasties. The Leveling of Hierarchies is manifested in the flattening of the vertical social structures. Hierarchy, as a social structure, is vertical "Some hold power. Some more powerful than others. This is the structure of hegemony which the temper of postmodernism opposes. And the effect is "bringing down the mighty from their thrones, and the exaltation of the lowly".7 Another factor in the leveling of hierarchies is the "democratization of about almost everything". In brief, it may be described as a condition in which everybody is at the mercy of everybody. Under this condition, it is difficult for hierarchy to figure in.8 Why is there a concern for mass or popular culture? F. H. Hornedo explains, "Mass or popular culture is a location in the socio-cultural environment in which converge the different social class interest. This convergence does not mean congruence, but mere meeting point the way a forest may be the converging point of wildlife, ecological conservationists, biologists, hunters, and outlaws. Each one is there for some reason of his own, and is there because the location presents something that served his individual interest."9 Thus, mass or popular culture has become a medium for the promotion of particular vested interests.

The Rainbow Constitution


The assassination of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. on August 21, 1983 set the stage for the massive growth of the anti-Marcos movement. This was aggravated by the deterioration of the government's economic performance. The result was the largest and the most sustained mass actions that led to the fall of the Marcos regime. The movement contained elements from left to right of the political spectrum. On the right were traditional politicians who had been forced out from the Marcos regime like Salvador Laurel, and disgruntled elements in the military leadership like AFP Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel Ramos and Defense Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile, who retained a foothold in the Marcos administration. Center right included the Church hierarchy, business people like the Makati Business Club, technocrats and right-wing of the Social Democratic Movement organized in groups such as the Manindigan, and the Philippine Democratic Socialist Party. Individuals associated with these groups included Jaime Cardinal Sin, Jaime Ongpin, Jose Concepcion, Noel Soriano, and Norberto Gonzales of PDSP. Ibid. Ibid. 9 Ibid., pp. 74-75.
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The center left included the left of the Social Democratic movement, human rights lawyers associated with MABINI, the association called KAAKBAY led by the late Jose W. Diokno, and left academics of universities, and many other urban middle class organizations. The left was represented by the National Democratic movement, the old Communist Party of the Philippines, and smaller groups that later coalesced around the independent socialist group BISIG. In other words, the Revolutionary Government of Ms. Aquino was backed up by a rainbow coalition of conservatives, liberals, and progressives, each representing diverse and divergent interests.10 This rainbow coalition, in turn, is the architect of the 1987 Constitution. ______________ Appendix The Freedom Constitution of 1986
On March 25, 1986, former President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 9, otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution. The said freedom constitution became the basis for the revolutionary government of 1986. Both the 1935 and the 1973 constitutions stated the source of their authority in their Preambles, namely the people. The Freedom Constitution is founded on the mandate of the people who catapulted Ms. Aquino to the presidency. A summary follows: 1. 2. Adoption of the provisions on National Territory, Citizenship, Bill of Rights, Duties and Obligations of Citizens and Suffrage enshrined in the 1973 Constitution. Adoption of the provisions of the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, the President, the Judiciary, Local Government, the Constitutional Commissions, Accountability of Public Officer, the National Economy and Patrimony of the Nation, and General Provisions of the 1973 Constitution, as amended. Abolition of the Batasang Pambansa, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and repel of the Amendments, Transitory Provisions, and all their Amendments. Provides the President with executive and legislative powers. Provides the President with the power to reorganize the government. Adoption of all existing laws, and related issuances consistent with the Proclamation. Provides the President with the power to review, amend, modify or revoke all contracts, concessions, permits or other forms of privileges for the exploration, development, exploitation, or utilization of natural resources entered into, granted, issued or acquired prior to the Proclamation. Provides the President with the power to appoint a Constitutional Commission. Provides the President with the power to determine the date of the local elections.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9.

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