MANILA — The House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments will continue to pursue efforts to revise the 1987 Constitution despite President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.'s pronouncement that it is not his priority.
“We respect the opinion of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on constitutional amendment measures. We will of course consider it. But as an independent branch of government, the House of Representatives and Congress will proceed with its public dialogues on this issue,” Committee Chairman and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez noted that the President's efforts to entice foreign businessmen in his trips abroad to invest their money in the country could be hampered by certain restrictive provisions of the Charter.
“In our hearings at the House of Representatives last week and in Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, the overwhelming recommendation was to rewrite the Constitution’s economic provisions to allow for more foreign investments,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
“The emerging consensus is to relax restrictions on the entry of foreign capital into the country,” he said.
The panel continued its provincial public consultations for charter change, this time in Iloilo. The audience came from Panay, Gumaras and Negros.
Lawmakers from the panel invited resource persons who are for and against charter change. The public consultation allowed both sides to explain their advocacies to the audience and answer questions.
"We want the Visayas to participate in this democratic process." House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Senior Vice Chair Rep. Lorenz Defensor said in his opening remarks.
"I hope that we will hear you and you will speak so that the House of Representatives will consider the opinions of the people from the Visayas," Defensor said.
"We embark on this public consultation to feel the pulse of the people, to know your sentiments and to be able to arrive at a consensus in order to determine the way forward," Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said.
While the House leadership has maintained that the effort to revise the 1987 Charter will focus on rewriting the economic provisions, one of the resource persons pushed for the regionalization of the Senate.
University of the Philippines Visayas Chancellor Clement Camposano said the move would "enlarge the talent pool since there are individuals with so much to contribute to lawmaking but who do not enjoy the national renown and thus could not win in a national election."
"They also need not raise the astronomical sums necessary to fund a nationwide campaign in the end it will be a senate less dominated by people from already politically dominant families and by celebrities," Camposano added.
Camposano also believes electing senators by region will make them less prone to grandstanding and would make the Senate a less belligerent and more constructive institution particularly with respect to the presidency and the executive branch.
"By removing the reason for their constant and intense need for media attention, they no longer need to run in a nationwide election, and having them represent specific areas of the country, senators can now focus on the primary task of lawmaking," Camposano explained.
In past administrations, the Senate had often been described as a bulwark of democracy because of its fiscalizing role, with senators holding committee investigations on various issues.
Meanwhile, Makabayan Bloc Chairman, former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares spoke for the oppositors and reiterated his long standing objections to charter change.
"Ang corruption at kahirapan natin ay di nagmula sa Konstitusyon, kaya ang pagmyenda sa kaniya ay hindi solusyon," Colmenares said.
(Corruption and poverty did not come from the constitution, so amending it is not the solution.)
Rodriguez had said that his committee would hold more consultations in San Fernando, Pampanga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and other parts of Luzon.
The president's cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, had been pushing for charter change.
"The proponents of the lifting of the economic provisions in the Constitution agree on one thing, opening the economy wide for inflow of foreign capital is the key to address the aspirations and ideals of Filipinos in present times," Romualdez said.
Romualdez had said that the tweaking of the Charter’s economic provisions could be the “last piece in the puzzle” of attracting more foreign investments.
For her part, House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said that "with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself downplaying the need to revise the 1987 Constitution to attract foreign investments, then it is high time that its proponents just drop the move for Charter change (Cha-cha) and concentrate on the immediate needs of our people."