'Is charter change really necessary?'

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2018 05:10 PM

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MANILA - One of the framers of the 1987 constitution questioned the need to change the charter and push for federalism supposedly to spur development outside the country's capital. 

Speaking to ANC Monday, lawyer Christian Monsod said the solutions to problems being raised by those pushing for charter change are already provided for by the present constitution. 

"Is it really necessary to change the Constitution? If you say, 'we have to address poverty, inequality, human development, feudalism.' If you say that, then my answer to you is, 'The present constitution provides for the solutions to those problems,'" he said.

It was Congress, he stressed, who "slept in its job" to implement some key provisions of the 1987 Constitution. For instance, in 30 years, lawmakers failed to pass an anti-political dynasty law, he added.

"Even when they enacted laws like agrarian or urban land reform, they put loopholes in those laws in order for the dynasties and their clans and their self-interests to be served. And now they want to change the Constitution because it doesn't work?" he said.

"And by the way, all of these drafts of a new constitution, my bet is it will be amended and revised to suit the interests of the clans and dynasties in Congress," added Monsod, one of 50 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 charter. 

Federalism for what?

Two draft charters have been made to to replace 1987 Constitution—one made by Representatives Aurelio Dong Gonzales Jr. and ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene Michael De Vera; the other by the President's political party, PDP-Laban.

The former requires a transitory government which may dissolve Congress and give legislative powers to the President, while the latter may extend the term of the chief executive. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said term extension is possible. 

Monsod pointed out, these proposals to change the charter are not even in the "AmBisyon Natin 2040," the Philippine Development Plan signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, making him wonder the real motive of those pushing for federalism. 

"The long-term plan laid down by the Duterte administration, which he signed in October 2016—it's both for the 6 years and up to 2040—it does not mention at all federalism, parliamentarism or charter change as a means to achieve the Philippine Development Plan," he said.

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