Senator Robin Padilla has continued his Charter change consultation in Cebu, encouraging businessmen and other groups to support the move.
With PDP-Laban partymate Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, Padilla started the discussion with a presentation detailing the projected expenses that the government needs to shoulder if it will amend the 1987 Constitution via congressmen-backed constitutional convention, or constituent assembly which he supports.
Quoting National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) data, Padilla said the government will only spend P46 million in "con-ass" if held simultaneously with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October, or P13.8 billion if conducted solo.
Con-con, on the other hand, will require a P14.7 billion budget if held along with the BSKE polls, or P28.5 billion if conducted separately.
Padilla, however, said a P28.5 billion budget for con-con can either finance the construction of 11,400 classrooms, support the social pension of indigent elderlies, pay the salary and allowances of health care workers, aid 1.1 million 4Ps beneficiaries, support the government’s child feeding program, or support college education.
“Dapat marinig po ng lahat, lalo na ng mga araw-araw na naghahanap-buhay at nag-aambag sa kaban ng bayan, na magmumula sa kanilang pinaghirapang buwis ang P14.7 bilyon hanggang P28.5 na bilyong gagastahin sa con-con. Hindi po natin kayang ipasan ang dagdag bigat na gastusing ito sa mamamayang Pilipino. Lalong hindi po sa ngayon na gumagapang po tayo sa hirap at utang,” Padilla said.
Dela Rosa likewise called for the people’s participation in the charter change discussion.
“[The] Constitution did not fall from the heavens, nor was it dictated by a divine being… There is no one who claim that he has the monopoly of truth or knowledge about the Constitution,” Dela Rosa said.
Padilla, meanwhile, insisted that relaxing the Constitution’s conservative economic provisions is a must to attract foreign investors.
He also hinted a disappointment on the legislature's failure to successfully push cha-cha during the term of then-President Rodrigo Duterte.
Padilla said Duterte would have benefitted from cha-cha.
“Siguro kung nagawa natin yung con-con noon, siya (Duterte) pa ang pangulo. Sayang. Alam niyo kasi iyan ang isang bagay eh, yung continuity. Yan ang problema doon sa nakikita ko sa Konstitusyon natin ng 1987 nawalan ng continuity,” Padilla said.
He added: “Ngayon masaya naman tayo sa ating Pangulo na si BBM at nakita naman natin nakatulong niya ang VP natin na si Inday Sara Duterte.”
But for Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, it’s not cha-cha that is needed by the country today, but the full implementation of the newly created Public Services Act, Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investment Act.
On ANC’s “Headstart” last Wednesday, Zubiri also hinted his feeling that some lawmakers’ aggressive push on cha-cha, may have something to do with the non-release of the three laws’ implementing rules and regulations (IRRs).
“After one year, have not been released. Hindi pa nilalabas iyong implementing rules and regulations, IRR, nitong batas. Hindi ko po alam bakit. Are they delaying for some underlying reason? Why don't they let IRR go and let it out so that more direct foreign investments can come to the country… the departments concerned are supposed to be make that. NEDA is supposed to release that,” Zubiri said.
Meantime in Cebu, former Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia underlined the need to fully implement the three economic laws.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) must also be supported, he said.
“Given our budget constraints, as every knows, we have about P13Tna utang we have been lagging behind our neighbor… there’s really a time constraint and a budget constraint that we have to deal with. I would suggest that we first attend to these three bills that have been passed by Congress, but kulang pa ng push at saka implementation,” Pernia said.
“Yung Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, kailangan i-push din yun kasi malaki ang makukuha natin sa trade na yun… maybe we can postpone the con-ass later,” he added.
Pernia said the con-ass or con-con should only be considered if the 3 new laws fail.