Right after the May 2022 elections, lawmakers from both chambers of Congress wasted no time to promote and advance personal interests above urgent national interests, like taming inflation and helping speed up economic recovery.

They have been proposing, for instance, to create a sovereign wealth fund when the country needs to nurse back to health the economy ruined by the pandemic.

Now, they are eager to tinker with the 1987 Constitution to open the economy to foreign investors and align the country’s trade policies with the region after a broader Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

These are, however, excuses for a much sinister plan to remove term limits as well as shift the form of government to a parliamentary system.

Some of the lawmakers who are salivating to become the leader of the country have no chances of winning under the present set-up but they believe they will have a chance to become the prime minister if elected by their peers.

The public is confused. The senators and the members of the House of Representatives do not agree on the mode of changing the constitution.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and most of the congressmen wanted to elect members of a Constitutional Convention to revise the constitution.

Sen. Robinhood Padilla favored a Constitutional Assembly. Another movie star-turned politician, Richard Gomez, agreed with Padilla.

While congressmen said they would only revise the economic provisions, Padilla wanted a shift to a federal and parliamentary system.

However, both charter change (Cha-Cha) proposals from the House of Representatives and Senate were no longer necessary because they passed a law opening public services to foreign investors without amending the constitution.

After more than 30 years, some provisions in the 1987 Constitution should be changed to go with the evolving technology and changing environment. It has to be attuned to the digital world.

But nothing of these innovations were heard from the two chambers because the lawmakers were only after their own selfish interests, like removing term limits and allowing themselves to elect the country’s leader instead of direct voting by the people.

Padilla, for his part, has been pushing for federalism to give local governments more power but this is no longer necessary because of the Local Government Code which already gave vast powers over provincial, municipal and city governments.

The Mandanas law also gave local government units a larger share in internal revenue allotments. In fact, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr was proposing to alter the Local Government Code to reverse the devolution of some government functions because poorer and smaller municipalities could not afford to run health, social welfare and development, agriculture and other devolved functions.

It could stretch the government’s budget, reducing the money available to the central government since there would be larger allocations to the local government units.

The central government loses power and control over local officials because they would have enough funds and would no longer rely on the president for dole-outs.

Perhaps, Padilla did not understand why Marcos was resisting devolution, a centerpiece provision in his push for federalism.

One more thing, Padilla does not have a clear idea what kind of a federal system he envisions for the country.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte ran on a platform of federalism in 2016 but abandoned the whole thing when he was in office because he had no clear idea on how to go about it.

It appears Padilla’s proposal to a federal and parliamentary system was only a cover for some politicians to hold on to power or some other politicians to regain power through the backdoor.

Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio has been silent on the issue.

Marcos has opposed the charter change positions. He said the move to revise the constitution is not his administration’s policy. Perhaps, he is still weighing his options because the proposal has no public traction.

Many people are opposed to charter change and it appears the move will be defeated in the Senate.

Of course, the president does not want to support a proposal that will not pass in the Senate and is very unpopular to the public.

His political fortunes are changing. He has started to alienate supporters of the former president because of his timid approach to the war on drugs as well as counter insurgency.

In fact, some Duterte allies have started attacking him in social media and on traditional platforms.

Marcos should watch his back. Marcos’s perceived weakness has emboldened many politicians to entertain thoughts they could replace him by 2028 through a parliamentary system.

That could be the fuel that accelerates charter change proposals.

Lawmakers may have their own personal reasons for pushing charter change but there is a common denominator — they want to hold on to power and stay forever in their positions.