Lawmakers divided on manner of amending Constitution

admin   •   December 27, 2017   •   5134

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_122617_EO 10

MANILA, Philippines — It was on the 7th of December in 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order (EO) that creates the 25-member constitutional commission.

The members of the commission are tasked to craft the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

One year has already passed since the President issued the said EO, but until now, Malacañang has yet to release the names of the supposed members of the commission.

Despite this, the lawmakers in the House of Representatives continue to debate on the plenary regarding the proposed charter change through a constituent assembly.

According to Deputy House Minority Leader and member of the Committee on Rules Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr., the Senate seems to be no longer keen on discussing the proposed constitutional amendment.

“We have to determine first whether Senate is amenable to convene a constituent assembly because now, with their body language, it seems they are no longer keen,” said Garbin.

The two chambers of Congress are still divided on the manner in which to amend the constitution that would pave way for the President’s proposal to shift the form of government to federalism.

Even the manner of voting of lawmakers in case they can convene in a constitutional assembly remains an issue for the solons and senators.

“Because the Senate will not agree to vote jointly, it is voting separately,” said the deputy minority leader.

Before the Senate went on a session break, Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel said it would be better if the executive department would release its proposed amendment in order for the two congressional houses to begin discussing the charter change.

Pimentel also noted the Senate will find a way to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment even though the Lower House is pushing through with bringing the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to the higher chamber of Congress.

The House of Representatives and the Senate also targets to convene next year to begin the deliberations on the proposed amendment of the 1987 Constitution. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

Former NEDA chief says ‘yes’ to change in Constitution’s economic provisions

Marje Pelayo   •   January 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Among those who expressed agreement in changing the economic provisions of the Constitution is former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ernesto Pernia.

He believes that, at this stage, the country’s economy is slowly recovering from months of the crisis caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Pernia said amending the Constitution will facilitate further and faster economic growth. 

He noted that one way to ensure economic progress is to welcome foreign investments into the Philippines similar to what Vietnam did where their economy progressed despite the pandemic in 2020.

The former economic head said the Philippines has the strictest measures among countries in the world in terms of allowing foreign investments.

“In fact, there are already green shoots of signs that the economy is in the early stages of recovery. But we really need to push that with policies including allowing direct foreign direct investments into the country so that this recovery will accelerate,” Pernia said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian believes that this is the right time to reopen the economy considering the number of Filipinos who lost their jobs including overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and companies that terminated their businesses. 

According to Albay Representative Joey Salceda, the country’s economy will gain an additional US$5-B to US$7-B or about P240-B to P336-B every year once it opens its doors to foreign investments.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, during the hearing in Congress, endorsed the more than half a million signatures they collated from 72 provinces across the country supporting the amendment in the economic provisions of the Constitution.

Malaya believes the number will reach millions if not of the pandemic.

For his part, Professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines School of Economics Dr. Raul Fabella said among the challenges facing foreign investors in establishing their businesses here include high cost of electricity, the quality of judicial system and the peace and order.

He cited, as an example, the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 which amounts to US370-M dollars and has an impending case over ownership that reached the Supreme Court.

“In 2013 the court of appeals awarded Piatco 371 million dollars as just compensation. The Philippine Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision in 2015, by that time the debt has ballooned to 24 billion pesos,” Fabella noted.

Research group Ibon Foundation, meanwhile, said there is no reason to change the Constitution if the issue is only about economic recovery because the government may simply provide financial assistance such as stimulus package.

“The economy’s development lies in using the protections in the Constitution to gain from foreign investment, not in taking away the protections and giving self-interested foreign investment free rein over the domestic economy,” explained Rosario Guzman, Ibon’s Executive Director and Head of Research Division.

The resolution filed by House Speaker Allan Velasco proposes the insertion of the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ in the concerned provisions that limit the entry and participation of foreign investors in the country’s economy. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Muling pagsusulong sa panukalang Charter change, tinutulan ng ilang senador

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Kinuwestiyon ng ilang senador ang muling pagsusulong sa panukalang amiyendahan ang saligang batas sa gitna ng nararanasang coronavirus pandemic.

Ayon kay Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, pag-aaksaya lang ng oras ang pagtalakay sa panukala na hindi rin naman uusad sa mataas na kapulungan ng Kongreso.

“It will be a total waste of time. It won’t fly. Our history tells us that Cha-cha has a zero chance of success in any administration that is already in the home stretch,” ang pahayag ni Drilon.

Iginiit din ng mambabatas na maituturing pang kasalanan ang pagtalakay sa usapin gayong wala pang nakikitang lunas sa kinakaharap na global health crisis at iba pang problema sa bansa.

“It is a sin to be even talking about changing the Constitution when there is still no end in sight to the pandemic, when the government is struggling to secure funding for COVID-19 vaccines, and when the country is still reeling from the continuing impact of the pandemic and the recent typhoons,” ang wika ni Drilon.

“Instead of talking about Cha-cha, let’s talk about how we can bring down inflation and let’s talk about how we can bring back lost jobs and livelihood opportunities,” dagdag pa niya.

Ginawa ni Drilon ang pahayag matapos kumpirmahin ni Senate President Vicente Sotto III noong Miyerkules na may mga nakahain nang panukala para sa pag-convene ng 18th Congress bilang Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) para sa pag-amiyenda sa konstitusyon.

Noong Disyembre 2020, naghain ng Resolution of both Houses sina Senator Francis Tolentino at Ronald dela Rosa para isulong ang Con-Ass at magsagawa ng limitadong pagbabago sa 1987 Constitution.

Hindi nakasaad sa resolusyon ang mga probisyon sa saligang batas na isinusulong na baguhin pero limitado lamang ang gagawing pag-amiyenda sa “democratic representation” at “economic provisions” ng Konstitusyon.

Giit nina Tolentino at Dela Rosa, kailangan na ng reporma ang 33-anyos na Saligang Batas ng bansa upang makatugon sa pangangailangan ng publiko lalo na sa gitna ng pandemya.

Ngunit para kay Senator Panfilo Lacson, dapat munang pag-usapan nang mabuti ang panukala.

Ayon naman kay Sotto, halos imposible kung mismong Charter change ang pag-uusapan at mas may pag-asa pa kung pag-amyenda lang sa mga probisyon ang gagawin.

Nilinaw rin ng senador na batay kanilang pulong noong Nobyembre, ang pag-aalis lamang sa party-list provision ng Saligang Batas ang nais ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte upang maresolba ang isyu sa Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

Kung si Sotto naman ang tatanungin, mas mainam kung amiyendahan na lamang ang umiiral na Party-List Law sa bansa at hindi na mag-convene ang dalawang kapulungan ng Kongreso bilang Con-Ass.

Posibleng magpatawag ng caucus ang Senado upang pag-usapan ang isyu. — RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Palace on Cha cha talks: Duterte focused on COVID-19 response, vaccine rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte is not interested in extending his term beyond June 2022 amid a renewed push for charter change in Congress.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president has previously made it clear that he has no intention of clinging to power in response to rumors that the charter change move was to keep Duterte in office beyond his six-year term.

Roque said Duterte is focused on the government’s response against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the roll out of the vaccine.

“Wala pong ibang top priority ang pangulo kundi matapos po itong pandemyang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Two administration allies – Senators Ronald dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino – in December filed a resolution asking both chambers of Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly to discuss proposals to amend some provisions of the constitution.

The House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing on January 13 to tackle the proposed charter change while the Senate is planning to hold a caucus to discuss the issue.

Roque said discussions on whether to amend the Constitution is the legislators’ sole and exclusive prerogative. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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