Lawmaker revives charter change bid amid pandemic

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2020 09:48 PM

MANILA - Quezon Province 2nd District Rep. David Jayjay Suarez insists on amending the 1987 Constitution to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suarez, an assistant majority floor leader, took to the floor Monday afternoon to deliver a privilege speech, wherein he revived the call for a charter change.

 “It is even more critical to talk about it now that we are facing the devastating effects of multiple calamities and disasters, on top of a global pandemic. Mr. Speaker, the basic principle is that building the better normal requires a better Constitution," he said.

Suarez brushed aside possible concerns on the timing of amending the Constitution as the country is beset by the COVID-19 pandemic.

”Kailan nga ba ang tamang panahon upang pag-usapan ang isyung ito? Pag natapos na ang pandemya? Magiging chicken and egg lang ho iyong usapan – sinasabi na huwag pag-usapan ang reporma sa Saligang-Batas hangga’t may krisis, pero hindi ba mas mabilis at maayos ang pagtapos sa krisis kung maitatama ang kakulangan ng sistema? At hindi ba magsisimula ang pag-aayos sa isang kalmado at mabusising pag-uusap nating mga mambabatas? I very respectfully disagree with the sentiments used to automatically shut down the discussion. There is no better time to discuss Constitutional Reform than now," he added.

Suarez claimed many of the countries that effectively responded to the pandemic have high levels of foreign investments, which has been cited as one justification for revising the Constitution. 

“Sa lahat ho ng bansa sa ASEAN na sinasabi nilang epektibo ang pagresponde sa pandemya gaya ng Vietnam, Thailand, at Malaysia, magkakapareho ho sila sa isang bagay: mataas ang FDIs nila. Opening our economy guarantees not only more funds to be used for people’s agenda, it also ensures that foreign partners have a direct and strong stake in our fast recovery and economic stability," he said.

“Hunger and unemployment know no political color, in the same manner that sound policies and reforms can benefit everyone regardless of affiliation. Malinaw sa akin na hindi ito usapin ng pulitika, kundi ng mandato at malasakit sa kapwa Pilipino," Suarez added.

Various bids to amend the Constitution—a key campaign promise of President Duterte in 2016–remain pending before the Committee on Constitutional Amendments.

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