Filipino senator speaks on president’s impeachment


    By Sara Noelle On

    “What we need now is a constitutional rebirth,” said Philippine Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad when he spoke to BYU students Friday, March 23, at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.

    Tatad addressed the issues surrounding the recent impeachment trial and ousting of Philippine President Joseph Erjecito Estrada.

    Estrada was forced to step down Jan. 20 amid massive protests surrounding alleged corruption.

    Rumored to be an alcoholic, gambler and womanizer, Estrada is now questioning the legitimacy of his successor, former vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

    “The impeachment process was the handiwork of an elite minority … all based in metro-Manila,” Tatad said.

    Tatad, who originally protested against Estrada before he was elected to the presidency, felt Estrada never should have sought the presidency.

    “He really had no clear idea of what the job was all about,” Tatad said.

    However, Estrada, a former movie star who often played roles similar to a Robin Hood figure to the poor, won the majority of the Filipino people.

    “Every nation gets the government it deserves. Estrada was the people”s choice,” Tatad said.

    The elite minority who wanted Estrada out of the presidency could not remove him without first destroying the constitution, Tatad said.

    “So they decided to destroy both,” Tatad said.

    However, it is not easy to rebuild what has been destroyed.

    Tatad feels this might best be accomplished through a constitutional convention, modeled after the United States” process in creating a constitution.

    “My feeling is that we need to involve the entire nation … elect delegates to convene at a convention and write a completely new constitution with inputs from everybody,” Tatad said.

    The most crucial problem, however, will be building trust in the constitution once it is written.

    “You can write a perfect constitution, but without the trust, it is just a scrap of paper,” Tatad said.

    Tatad also said that the same men who wrote the most recent constitution in 1987 were the same ones who destroyed it in January when they ousted Estrada.

    As the Philippines seeks to rebuild itself and its government, Tatad hopes that enlisting the involvement of the people will have a greater effect on the state of the constitution.

    “The system must be defended and upheld to assure us that the constitution will finally be upheld,” Tatad said.

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