AFTER a year of protests, Chileans finally voted for the drafting of a new constitution that would correct the inequalities caused by the old one, which dates back to the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. There is also reason to believe that Thais who are currently protesting and demanding for it will get a new constitution, one that will narrow or erase the gap between the poverty of millions of Thais and the affluence of a monarchy that is reputed to be the richest in the world.
Two other nations, Belarus and Nigeria, are currently demanding for a new constitution that would effectively guarantee the equal rights of citizens to their country’s patrimony. What happened in these four countries is that their systemically marginalized citizens stopped complaining of their elected officials and took matters into their own hands by demanding through peaceful mass actions for solid constitutional guarantees to their rights to the quality of life enjoyed by society’s elite.
These significant events in the global village now give rise to the question: When will Filipinos stop complaining of inequality in Philippine society and start demanding peacefully but ever so earnestly for a constitution that will effectively (that’s the operative word) guarantee the equal rights of all sectors to the country’s political, economic, and cultural resources?
Since independence in 1946, we have never been a representative democracy. The rich heirs of both our Spanish and American colonizers and their succeeding heirs, today’s oligarchs, have always controlled and steered policy-making in this country towards giving their enclave exclusive access to the benefits of the country’s resources.
They have been able to monopolize decision-making because even our post Martial Law constitution of 1987 does not guarantee proportionate representation in government to all sectors of society. Instead it maintained a flawed easily-rigged electoral process that only oligarchs and/or their political allies can exclusively participate in.
They occupy the master room in the country’s long house with all its exclusive benefits and privileges. Thus a new constitution that guarantees citizens effective access to their rights through proportionate representation and free election will never come from them.
It will only come if we demand for it, as the Chileans have done and the Thais, Belarusian and Nigerians are doing. No amount of whining and complaining will get us a new constitution. Only concerted but peaceful mass action will. It does not matter what form (unitary or federal) government takes either. Without proportionate representation and free election this nation’s destiny will remain in the hands of the oligarchy.