Moves to amend charter 'very dangerous, insidious,' says '87 Constitution framer


Posted at Jan 08 2021 07:07 PM

MANILA - One of the framers of the 1987 Constitution on Friday described as “very dangerous and insidious” fresh moves to amend economic provisions of the charter.

“It’s a very dangerous and insidious move because it's a wholesale transfer of power from the Constitution to the Congress on determining your limitations on foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, media advertising, and educational institutions,” said lawyer Christian Monsod.

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Monsod said this is the fourth time that the economic provisions of the Constitution is being attacked.

He said the first try was the Constitutional Correction for Development (Concord) under former president Joseph Estrada, then the Sigaw ng Bayan under former President Gloria Arroyo, then another initiative by former House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

“Once you do this, na ilalagay mo 'yung (if you add) ‘unless otherwise provided by law’, ang mangyayari n’yan (what will happen) is you are rendering meaningless the principles in the Constitution,” he said.

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa, filed in December a resolution for both houses of Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly to discuss limited amendments to the Constitution, specifically on provisions on democratic representation and economy.

The House of Representatives is expected to begin discussions on economic provisions in the constitution, which places restrictions on foreign ownership of business.

“Ang kawawa d'yan lupa (The most to be disadvantaged is land). Even the foreign chambers of commerce admit that when you open the land, the prices of land will go up and will be beyond the reach of the poor,” he said.

He added that those who support it are big businessmen who have the money and corrupt lawmakers making it easy to do transactional legislation.

Monsod said the Philippines has a serious problem of mass poverty and inequality.

“That is what we promised the poor at EDSA. That is unfulfilled up to today,” he said, referring to the 1986 peaceful revolt that restored democracy and toppled the repressive Marcos dictatorship.

He doubts members of the Senate would allow changes to the charter.

“I don’t think they’ll get the Senate to cooperate. Of course, it has to go on to a referendum. How much is that referendum? P12 billion they’ll spend on it and then they will bribe the politicians there on the ground. But the people will reject it.”

“How may times [have] the people rejected changing the Constitution, and economic provisions particularly.”