Catholic Church's social justice arm rejects Charter change
This undated file photo shows the office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

Catholic Church's social justice arm rejects Charter change

(Philstar.com) - January 28, 2021 - 11:23am

MANILA, Philippines —The social justice arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines rejected fresh moves to change the Constitution, saying there are more urgent issues that need attention.

It also warned that the current attempt to revise the charter may be used to keep politicians in power.

“The recent proposals in both houses of Congress to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution, in the guise of ‘improving our economic openness to the world’ will not benefit the nation,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace said in a statement released Thursday.

The Catholic Church commission said genuine constitutional reform will only come from the direct participation of the people, which it said is lacking in the current push by some lawmakers in the House and the Senate to change the Constitution.

It added that the government needs to focus its attention on other more pressing issues including COVID-19, disaster financing and management, the climate emergency, unemployment, education, red-tagging, and the execution of farmers, indigenous people, environmental and human rights defenders.

It also called the Duterte government “unstable” and “very susceptible to corruption,” and worried over the possibility that Charter change can be used to cancel the elections in 2022, extend politicians’ terms or even prop up a revolutionary government, which it said are all “detrimental” to the people.

House lawmakers who are pushing for Charter change have repeatedly insisted that their focus would only be on amending economic provisions in the Constitution which they believe to be “restrictive.”

Some political observers, however, do not buy this as they point out that tinkering with the Constitution could open up the floodgates to any amendment, including to political provisions like the extension of terms and the lifting of term limits.

House leaders say a majority of lawmakers in the chamber are already supportive of the move to amend the Constitution’s economic provisions initiated by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

But the Senate remains cool to this latest attempt to change the Constitution as it is still concerned over procedures on how Congress can amend provisions in the Charter. — Xave Gregorio with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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