Zubiri on Cha-cha: Surveys needed first

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Zubiri on Cha-cha: Surveys needed first
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri
Senator Migz Zubiri / Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Moves to amend the 1987 Constitution should first have the imprimatur of the people, which can be gauged by conducting surveys on Charter change, according to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

In a radio dwIZ interview yesterday, Zubiri said going the route of a people’s initiative is one option to propose amendments to the Constitution that has the backing of the people.

He was referring to one mode of Charter change wherein amendments to the Charter are proposed “by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least 12 per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein,” according to Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution.

The amendments to the Constitution will also have to go through a plebiscite.

“I think we should also get the people’s wish because it will have to go through a plebiscite,” Zubiri said.

He suggested that reputable survey organizations such as Pulse Asia, Social Weather Stations and OCTA get the sentiment of the people before Charter change proponents go through the process of pitching amendments.

“I would suggest that they conduct surveys first and see the pulse of the people. Whether they agree with Charter change or not, let us listen to them,” Zubiri said in Filipino.

The Senate President said Charter change faces rough sailing in the Senate because some of his colleagues are either totally against changing the Charter, or are open to it but against lifting term limits.

“But as far as I’m concerned, ceasefire muna. Let’s enjoy the Christmas season. Let’s cross the bridge when we get there,” Zubiri said.

“Like the President said, it is being studied. Let’s wait for them to come out with the results of the study before we talk about Charter change,” he added.

In the Senate, it was PDP-Laban Senator Robin Padilla who led the Charter change moves, starting with easing the restrictive economic provisions which did not get his peers’ support.

Padilla later was emboldened to seek an amendment of the political provisions after the House of Representatives under Speaker Martin Romualdez sought to put Charter change on the agenda next year.

In his Resolution of Both Houses No. 5, Padilla proposed, among others, to add 30 regional senators to the current 24 nationally-elected ones; to extend the terms in office of members of Congress and locally elected officials and to make voting for president and vice president as a tandem, each with a term of four years and eligible for reelection.

Not the right time

Senator Imee Marcos has said it is not the right time to amend the 1987 Constitution, even as she criticized the current Charter for being a Constitution crafted during the Cory Aquino administration.

In an interview in Manila on Friday, the sister of President Marcos said Charter change should not be the government’s priority, coming out of a pandemic.

“It is not the proper time because of the more pressing problems now,” Marcos said in Filipino.

But she quickly clarified that she would also not defend the present Constitution crafted during the administration of the late former president Cory Aquino, who was swept to power following the people power ouster of her father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

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