Marcos plans constitutional amendment for midterm elections

Shortly before his state visit to Australia at the end of February 2024, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. declared that he intends to hold a national referendum on the planned amendment to the country’s constitution in parallel with the mid-term elections in May 2025. This constitutional amendment aims to attract foreign investors and boost economic growth. In an interview, President Marcos Jr. emphasized that the unchanged 1987 constitution, which came into force after the ousting of his dictator father, Marcos Sr., “was not written for a globalized world.” The “Cha-Cha” – as constitutional amendments are also called in the Philippines – is highly controversial, as Marcos Sr. amended the constitution to extend his term in office, which was shaped by serious human rights violations.

Since taking office in June 2022, President Marcos Jr. has been trying to put his father’s dictatorship into a positive light and rewrite his family history. As early as September 2023, the Ministry of Education decided to remove the name “Marcos” from the 6th grade curriculum, where the period of martial law (1972-1986) under Marcos Sr. is referred to only as a “dictatorship.” In October 2023, the Marcos Jr. government also removed the anniversary of the “People Power Revolution” (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue/EDSA) on February 25 from the public holiday calendar. This meant that for the first time in 38 years, the non-violent civil protest movement in the Philippines, which led to the overthrow of dictator Marcos Sr. from February 22 to 25, 1986, was not officially celebrated.

Despite the absence of the EDSA People Power anniversary, many civil society organizations still celebrated on February 25, 2024, the ousting of the two-decade dictatorship and protested against the Marcos J.r’s “cha-cha.” Civil society groups fear that the planned constitutional amendment will be a threat to democracy and human rights.

The opposition is currently with Risa Hontiveros only weakly represented in the Senate. On February 22, 2024, former senator and Liberal Party spokesperson Leila de Lima named some of the opposition’s senatorial candidates for next year’s midterm elections. Among the candidates were former senators Kiko Pangilinan and Bam Aquino as well as human rights lawyer Chel Diokno. Leni Robredo, the former vice president of the Philippines, is still open to running for the opposition in the 2025 elections.

Although the 1987 constitution prohibits political dynasties, the Marcos family’s influence in Philippine politics continues to grow. Currently, at least 16 people related to the Marcos family are represented in the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as at local government level.


Photo © Karapatan

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