Corazon Aquino - Presidency - Constitutional and Political Reforms

Constitutional and Political Reforms

Immediately after assuming the presidency, President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3, which established a revolutionary government. She abolished the 1973 Constitution that was in force during martial law, and instead promulgated the provisional 1986 Freedom Constitution, pending the ratification of a new Constitution by the people. This allowed her to exercise both executive and legislative powers until the ratification of the new Philippine Constitution and the establishment of a new Congress in 1987. Aquino promulgated two landmark legal codes, namely, the Family Code of 1987, which reformed the civil law on family relations, and the Administrative Code of 1987, which reorganized the structure of the executive branch of government. Another landmark law that was enacted during her tenure was the 1991 Local Government Code, which devolved national government powers to local government units (LGUs). The new Code enhanced the power of LGUs to enact local taxation measures and assured them of a share in the national revenue. Aquino closed down the Marcos-dominated Batasang Pambansa to prevent the new Marcos loyalist opposition from undermining her democratic reforms and reorganized the membership of the Supreme Court to restore its independence.

In May 1986, the reorganized Supreme Court declared the Aquino government as “not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure government”, whose legitimacy had been affirmed by the community of nations. This Supreme Court decision affirmed the status of Aquino as the rightful leader of the Philippines. To fast-track the restoration of a full constitutional government and the writing of a new charter, she appointed 48 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission ("Con-Com"), led by retired activist Supreme Court Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma. The Con-Com completed its final draft in October 1986. On February 2, 1987, the new Constitution of the Philippines, which put strong emphasis on civil liberties, human rights and social justice, was overwhelmingly approved by the Filipino people. The ratification of the new Constitution was followed by the election of senators and congress that same year and the holding of local elections in 1988.

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