PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

With 301 "Yes," 7 “No” votes and no abstention, the House of Representatives last Tuesday, March 14, on third/final reading, approved House Bill 7352 seeking to form a constitutional convention (CONCON) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

This CONCON will have 316 members, 80% elected from congressional districts, 20% appointed by the president, with a term of office from 2023 December 1 to June 30, 2024.

Now, please note this carefully.

While NEDA Undersecretary Krystal Lyn Uy shared in the Senate that CON-ASS (constituent assembly) will cost around P10 billion less than CONCON (with initial estimates at around P28 billion), the House approved CONCON instead.

Each CONCON delegate will receive a P10,000 compensation per day and be entitled to necessary traveling/lodging allowance “to and from his place of residence when attending sessions of the convention or any of its committees.”


Registering their opposition, Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado said “the willingness to spend for charter change runs counter to the budget cuts implemented on certain budget items providing immediate aid to the Filipinos.”

Deputy Minority Leader France Castro said “that while Congress is talking about the billions of pesos required for charter change, only a measly P1,000 cash aid was set aside for every family considered among the poorest. She said "mabuti pang ibasura na ang Cha-cha at ilaan ang pera para dito sa ayuda."

Majority member Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, House constitutional amendments committee chairperson, however countered, “that funds to be spent for CONCON be considered "investment, not expense - that “we need the P9 billion to amend the economic provisions of our Constitution.”

Rodriguez continued: “once we lift the foreign investments restrictions, there will be an influx of foreign investments, provide thousands of jobs for our people, and the payment of taxes to the government will finance social programs such as ayuda for poor households."

Where is Rodriguez’ evidence, data/research to better inform/convince the Filipino people that foreign investments redound to economic benefits for the nation/our people?

And, what assurance do the Filipino people have that taxes from these so-called investors will be used by government for the poor/for social programs/for ayuda?

Did not Marcos Jr. boast about investments for the country obtained during his foreign visits?

Cannot this government entice foreign investors to come to the Philippines even without CHACHA (charter change)?

In the midst of widespread and deepening poverty/unabated inflation/unstable food supply/unemployment/health-housing gaps affecting millions of our Filipino people, why not spend the CONCON proposed budget FIRST for our people NOW, NOT for CHACHA

Or are the legislators rushing CHACHA through CONCON to also include not only economic but political/other changes to the 1987 Philippine Constitution?

When questioned by House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party-list and Camarines Sur Representative Gabriel Bordado during the interpellation on the merits of the proposed Constitutional Convention Act, Chairperson Rodriguez conceded that “CONCON  delegates would be authorized to introduce political amendments to the 1987 Constitution, including changes to the Bill of Rights and the grounds for declaring martial law” “since the body will have constituent plenary power and can, therefore, be able to discuss/approve amendments to the constitutional system.”

When Brosas asked if CONCON delegates can “change the term limits of incumbent public officials and if it is also possible to change the form of government,” Rodriguez also answered yes.

Brosas then lamented “that changing the 1987 Constitution would as good as junk the legacy of the 1986 People Power Revolution.”

Brosas warned, and this is for all Filipinos to seriously consider/reflect on/pray and be vigilant about-

“If the con-con delegates are free to propose amendments, this is very dangerous... The one in power will be the one benefitting from Constitutional change.”

Not the millions of struggling Filipinos/not the nation.



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