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  • Changing the constitution of the Philippines may prove perilous

    Feb 01, 2018

    THE coarse-talking, arse-kicking president of the Philippines is not the sort to worry unduly about the finer points of the law. Yet Rodrigo Duterte is making plain his priority in 2018: changing the constitution in ways that will reshape the state. Last month Mr Duterte announced a committee of politicians and worthies to feed ideas to Congress. The plan is for Congress, armed with the committee’s recommendations, to turn itself into a constituent assembly empowered to draft revisions. The country will then vote on its proposals in a plebiscite. The task may consume the rest of Mr Duterte’s presidency, at a time when much needs fixing elsewhere. Many Filipinos are scratching their heads. Others question Mr Duterte’s motives.

    The least contentious of the president’s three desired changes is the easing of the constitutional limits on foreign ownership of companies, to attract foreign capital and encourage competition. The other two goals are radical. One is to remove some of the president’s...

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