MANILA - A prominent human rights lawyer during the dark days of Martial Law believes that threats to democracy remain 32 years after the Filipinos toppled a dictator through the EDSA People Power revolt.
Speaking to ANC on Sunday, former senator Rene Saguisag said conditions under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration is somewhat similar to the events leading to the EDSA uprising.
"We see the same manifestation that led to the memorable 4-day event. Eh ang House mukhang echo chamber lang ng Malacanang," Saguisag said as the country marked the 32nd anniversary of the 1986 revolution.
Saguisag fears that under the leadership of Duterte, who has a "super majority" in Congress, what would replace the 1987 Constitution would just serve the interests of incumbent officials.
"There are talks on changing the economic provisions and I'm open to a discussion of it. Pero 'yun nga baka ito ay maging another 'Siopao Constitution' serving the intent and purposes of the incumbent. 'Yan ang binabantayan namin dito," he said.
Saguisag was referring to the cheating that happened during the ratification of the 1973 Constitution under the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
"The Barangay attendees were simply asked: 'Sino ang gusto ng siopao at [soda]'? See the 1986 ConCom Record, July 10, 1986, p. 439. A raised hand was counted as a 'yes' vote," he wrote in a January 2018 Manila Times column.
Saguisag stressed that while nothing is stopping legislators from amending the charter, nothing is also stopping them from improving the lives of Filipinos using the same constitution.
"As defective or insufficient the current Constitution may be, nothing to prevent the leaders from improving or giving the people better lives. Tataasan suweldo, bakit mga sundalo't pulis lang? Bakit nakalimutan ang teachers and the others," he added.