Dela Rosa, Tolentino seek charter amendment on 'democratic representation'

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Dela Rosa, Tolentino seek charter amendment on 'democratic representation'
Senators Dela Rosa and Tolentino are seen in talks in this undated file photo inside the Senate chamber
Senate PRIB / Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — Two pro-administration senators are seeking changes to the 1987 Constitution on "democratic representation" apart from economic provisions of the charter, a resolution filed in the chamber showed.

Senators Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino called on Congress to convene as a constituent assembly, one of the means to amend the charter apart from a constitutional convention or by people's initiative. 

It was not clear from the December 7 resolution on what particular amendments the two are proposing, but said changes are needed to respond to "mounting economic and health concerns" due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

"The interest of the Filipino people will be served by introducing meaningful reforms reinforcing not only economic growth and development but also more pragmatic democratic representation," the resolution read. 

The move comes as the country slowly recovers from economic losses brought by the months-long hard lockdown last year, as well as continuing to grapple with the virus and being on the lookout for its new and more infectious variant.

An initiative led by the interior department had also sought to urge the two chambers for charter change in May 2020, but was shot down as lawmakers tackled coronavirus-related legislations.

In Congress, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has directed too for talks on amending the constitution to begin when the chamber resumes session, despite saying months ago that there would no longer be time for it.

His proposed amendments include giving the legislature the power to lift several economic restrictions such as limitations on foreign investments. 

And while such did not include term extensions, which had long raised the eyebrows of many, Velasco has showed support for extending officials' stint in office.

Duterte holds a supermajority in the House, while in the Senate, the minority has since been reduced to only four after no opposition candidate won enough votes in the midterm elections.

In the last bid to amend the charter, Malacañang said such was not a priority of the administration. 

But with new leadership in the House and funding for recovery projects already in place this 2021, it remains a question if it would change tune. 

One of Duterte's campaign promises was a shift to a federal type of government which would require amendments to the constitution. 

It has, however, failed to gain traction over the course of his term, with only 16 months until the next elections in 2022 where the president is also bound to step down. — with reports from Xave Gregorio







As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 9, 2022 - 12:03pm

The consultative committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution, eyes the removal of the impeachment power of Congress over justices of the Constitutional Court, one of the proposed three Supreme Courts under the draft charter.

READ: Concom eyes 3 supreme courts

Concom proposes that the impeachment of justices in Constitutional Court be decided instead by the 15-member Supreme Court.

The proposed Constitutional Court will have a presiding justice appointed by the Supreme Court and six associate justices with two appointees each from three branches of government.

LIST: Controversial features of proposed federal charter by House sub-committee

— with Edu Punay

January 9, 2022 - 12:03pm
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, is proposing longer terms of office for the President, members of the House of the Representatives, governors, mayors, and other provincial, city and town officials. His proposal is contained in Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, which he filed with the House on Friday, Jan. 7.
January 10, 2021 - 11:35am

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco says he wants to "liberalize the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution" upon authoring Resolution of Both Houses 2, that seeks to emdn the 1987 Constitution.

The House leader adds that they propose to amend certain sections of Articles XII (National Patrimony and Economy),  XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and XVI (General Provisions) to add the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law."

"As global economies slowly start to reopen, we cannot allow the Philippines to lag behind in terms of investments and opportunities. We need to seize the momentum if we are to fully recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19," Velasco says in a statement.

January 6, 2021 - 9:12pm

Two senators have filed a resolution to convene the 18th Congress as a constituent assembly to introduce limited amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Sens. Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 on December 7, which seeks to revise the constitution "limited to the provisions on democratic representation and the economic provisions of the Constitution."

"WHEREAS, against the backdrop mounting economic and health concerns brought about by the pandemic, it is important to ensure that the subsequent national policies and strategies for the rehabilitation of our nation be responsive to the needs of our people in order to bring about genuine economic growth and sustainable development," the resolution reads.

January 6, 2021 - 8:46pm

House of Representatives leaders meet on Wednesday to discuss Charter change. 

House constitutional amendments panel chair Alfredo Garbin tells Philstar.com that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco gave a directive to tackle proposed amendments to restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

"It’s long overdue, ours is a 33-year-old Constitution of which it’s restrictive economic provisions no longer conforms to the needs of time," Garbin says. —  Xave Gregorio

September 28, 2020 - 3:54pm

President Duterte does not intend to stay in power beyond his term, Malacañang said yesterday, as it maintained that the 2022 elections can only be postponed if the 1987 Constitution is amended.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the only elections that can be deferred are those that are not stated in the constitution like the barangay polls.

"It (postponing the 2022 elections) can never be an option for Malacañang unless the Constitution is amended," Roque says, noting that the Constitution specifies the date of the election of the President, Vice President, representatives, and senators.

"The President is not interested in extending his term and he leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections," he adds.

The constitution states that the regular election for President, Vice-President, senators, and members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

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