MANILA (UPDATED) - Voting 301-6-1, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 which calls for a constitutional convention that will propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez presided over the vote, which was called upon a motion by House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe.
The House aims to limit its charter rewriting initiative to the “restrictive” economic provisions of the basic law “in the hope that the changes would pave the way for the country to attract more foreign investments.”
“We need additional investments that would create more job and income opportunities for our people. We need increased capital to sustain our economic growth momentum,” Romualdez said in a press release.
RBH 6 notes that among the three modes of proposing amendments to the Charter, the calling of a convention “would be the most transparent, exhaustive, democratic, and least divisive means of implementing constitutional reforms.”
“Extensive studies show that particular economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution need to be revisited and recrafted so that the Philippines may become globally competitive and attuned with the changing times,” the resolution stated.
RBH 6 also notes that such reform has been identified by reputable business and economic groups as a key policy instrument that needs to be implemented, and that these organizations feel that the economic reform by way of constitutional amendments “is now long overdue.”
Under RBH 6, the con-con would be a hybrid assembly with elected and appointed members, with the election and appointment of delegates to be held simultaneously with the October 30, 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.
The Speaker's Office said at least 300 members of the House of Representatives have signified their intention to be co-authors of the resolution calling for a constitutional convention that would propose amendments to the economic provisions of the charter.
Dalipe announced the total number of co-authors on RBH No. 6 during a majority caucus held an hour before the resumption of House session.
Romualdez and Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attended the 300-strong caucus which also included key House leaders.
The caucus was also called to inform members of the House majority of the priority measures that need to be acted upon by the House of Representatives before the Easter legislative break.
“We now have 300 House Members as co-authors of RBH No. 6, and more are signifying their intention to be co-authors. This means we now have not 2/3 or 3/4 votes, but more than 93 percent of total House membership in solid support of the con-con proposal,” Dalipe said.
“We are at the cusp of making history today. With this great number, we can now be likened to the 300 Spartans that made a last stand in the Battle of Thermopylae,” said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of House committee on constitutional amendments.
The measure requires a vote of two-thirds of all congressmen and all senators, voting separately, to pass.
The lawmakers who voted against the measure maintained that not only is it illegal and unnecessary now, it could also lead to abuse of power.
The 6 who voted against the bill are: Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel, and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman.
"The con-con’s agenda is open-ended. Even if the Joint Resolution enjoins the con-con to limit its amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution, this has no legal binding effect. Verily, the Constitutional Convention can amend the political provisions of the Constitution, including extension of term limits or changing term limits, which could be the furtive agenda for calling for cha-cha," Lagman said
"Huwag nating linlangin ang taumbayan na 'concon para sa econ' lamang ito sa layuning amuin o pakalmahin ang oposisyon ng publiko sa ChaCha. Malinaw sa ating lahat—kabilang na ang mga sponsor ng panukalang ito at ng susunod na panukalang ConCon Act—ang batas, jurisprudence, at historical precedents na nagsasabing plenaryo o pangkalahatan ang kapangyarihan ng isang Kumbensyong Konstitusyonal, at di kayang limitahan ng Kongreso ang kapangyarihang ito. Malinaw sa atin na kung naisipan ng ConCon na sumayaw ng political chacha, kayang kaya niya itong gawin. Kaya nitong tanggalin ang mga pinanghahawakang garantiya ng mga mamamayan ngayon ukol sa social justice, libre at accessible na edukasyon, karapatan ng kababaihan, manggagawa, at marami pang iba. Magagawa nitong tanggalin ang anti-dynasty provision, ang buong Artikulo ukol sa pananagutan ng mga upisyal ng gubyerno. Kung maisipan ng ConCon na i-suspend ang 2025 elections o gawin yung “no-el” scenario, magagawa nila ito," Castro said.
"Mr. Speaker at mga kapwa Kinatawan, dapat nating balikan ang aral ng kasaysayan: Nabuo ang 1973 Constitution sa pamamagitan ng kumbinasyon ng iba’t ibang makinasyon ni dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos upang ilatag ang ligal na basihan hindi lang ng pagtagal niya sa poder, ngunit pati na rin ang kanyang diktadurya, upang sementuhin ang isang crony capitalism kung saan siya at ang kanyang pamilya ay mamamayani—at hindi ang interes, kapakanan, at kaligtasan ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino. Nagawa niya ito sa kabila ng kaliwa’t kanang krisis na kinakaharap ng bansa noon. Dapat pakinggan ng Kongresong ito ang mga hinaing ng mamamayan at makiisa sa kanilang oposiyon laban sa ChaCha," Castro added.
"If approved this would be a precarious route that could introduce unnecessary changes outside the suggested economic modification," Bordado said.
"Binubuksan din ng chacha ang madaming posibilidad para mapalawig ang kapangyarihan ng mga Marcios dahil kahit pulitikal na amyenda ay pwedeng ipasok sa concon," Brosas said.
Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman is the 6th representative to vote against the bill.
"Dito nagmumula ang aking pangamba, exposed na din sa amendments ang mga political provisions ng 1987 Constitution. Ang mga provisions na ito tulad ng term limits at qualifications ng mga opisyal ng pamahalaan ay inilagay sa ating Saligang Batas para hindi maabuso ang posisyong hahawakan. Sa Constitutional Convention na panukala ng ating butihing sponsor, open na yan lahat. Hindi natin malilimitahan sa economic provisions ang ating amendments. Bukas na ang buong Konstitusyon sa pagbabago," Hataman said in a separate statement.
Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte also cast a dissenting vote, however it was not clear if his vote was counted.
"This is to express our irresolution with the immediate approval of RBH No. 6. To reiterate, we are not in opposition against the said measure per se, but we suppose that it is not timely, our country is facing more pressing social and economic issues, like inflation and poverty among others, that we need to prioritize. Billions to be allocated for a Constitutional Convention could be allocated instead to other programs intended to improve the living conditions of thousands of Filipino families, " Duterte said in a statement.
Brosas also flagged the House for rescheduling the March 6 all-women session to give way to charter change deliberations.
RBH 6 will be sent to the Senate where it will await House Bill 7352 which implements RBH 6.
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House of Representatives, Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, RBH 6, con-con, constitutional convention