Another president who became a congressman
FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa
The Philippine Star
It may be worthwhile to know for those who have attacked President GMA’s decision to run as a member of Congress that she is not the first President to run for a lower office.
An American professor of politics at UCLA told me to look up American history because they had a president who did the same thing:
President John Quincy Adams. He was determined to succeed with a program of modernization and educational advancement, but he was blocked by a Congress controlled by his political enemies.
So when he lost his bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson he did not retire. He decided to continue his fight as a member of Congress.
I do not know whether there were objections or criticisms of Adams’ decision to continue his political career as the elected US Representative from Massachusetts. But he was elected to eight terms, and served as a congressman for 17 years from 1831 until his death.
His decision to run for a lower post after his term was a personal decision. And it is a good thing he went ahead with such an unorthodox act.
He was the first and only American president ever to do so but his service to his country as a member of Congress ultimately surpassed those he did as President.
As congressman he became a leading critic of slavery. It would have been a pity if he recoiled against taking up a lower post because he was more successful as a lawmaker.
As a congressman he became an important antislavery voice in American history. Although the “Gag rule” prevented discussion of slavery from 1836 to 1844, he was able to keep the issue alive through his parliamentary skill.
* * *
The lesson to learn is that we cannot know ahead of time what President GMA can do as congresswoman because of her background as a former president.
Once again Noynoy and his mentor re-electionist Senator Franklin Drilon show their ignorance and get it all wrong when they say that running for Congress is part of the pattern to stay in power. He may never have heard about John Quincy Adams and how as a former American president he became an effective congressman. He achieved greater heights in the service of his country. In that role he tackled one of the most important advocacies in American political history.
Drilon’s attacks against the Supreme Court when it decided there was nothing unlawful or unconstitutional about President GMA’s decision to run for Pampanga’s second district is a disservice to our judicial institutions. Moreover he plays god by condemning the President for choosing to stay in public service. (Anti-slavery would have lost a voice had President John Quincy Adams closed his mind to a lower post.)
Those who understand the problems of this country know the importance of constitutional reform. It is not something to hide or be ashamed of. We should look forward to a time when like Adams’ brave advocacy against slavery she would return the issue of constitutional reform back on the table for debate and decided democratically.
She will not be alone in pushing for those reforms. She is no longer president and all the fear that she can make it possible to shift to parliamentary government once she becomes congresswoman is ill founded. There are enough lawmakers in the House of Representatives who favor constitutional reform but they cannot do anything about the flawed provisions on revision in the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution will have to be amended before it can be amended. How that can be overcome remains to be seen.
It is a chicken and egg dilemma.
But if she does lead Congress to push for constitutional reform she would have served the Filipino nation far greater than any infrastructure she has built or a stable economy that she nurtured as President. More and more thoughtful Filipinos are beginning to understand that the Cory Constitution as it stands today is the reason why we cannot move forward. But then that is precisely the point, if you want to keep the status quo of rule by the oligarchy, you make a Constitution that is impossible to amend.