By Francis Tolentino
Charter change rings even louder and clearer as days go by. Our three decades and one-year-old Constitution might need total revision if the fundamental principles of the land are to truly embody the values and aspirations of the Filipino people. The debate over the need for Charter change (Cha-cha) and the urgency of this need has been very extensive, let alone exhaustive. I believe a new constitution that is more attuned to present-day needs is a prerequisite for more meaningful change and development to take place.
Looking back in Philippine history, Filipino lawmakers have always recognized the need to amend the Constitution according to the economic and socio-political changes that took place. Our social, political, and economic landscapes are being altered every now and then by both internal and external circumstances, hence the need for legislation to adapt to this change follows thereafter. The 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions of the Philippines are points in our history that affirm our need to adapt to a very dynamic world community. Our fourth revision of the Philippine Constitution seems to be well underway, and I am convinced that this change is timely, relevant, and urgent.
The national government’s objective of inclusive growth and development cannot be realized unless the conditions are set right. Charter change will enable our lawmakers to reform outdated provisions in our Constitution and tailor-fit this, so to speak, to address our present and anticipated needs as a nation. Charter change will also enable us to shift to a federal system of government, which in turn will ensure greater local community development through decentralization of power and resources. Federalism is our first step towards national inclusive growth. Our fundamental laws should ensure that the people’s well-being is always at the forefront, and that national interests are safeguarded.
What made our past constitutional amendments successful was the fact that the people trusted the process. Now that we are confronted with another imminent Charter change, I see no reason for unfounded doubts and fears for Charter change. Our past Cha-cha’s enabled us to move forward as a nation united in spirit and vision. With deep faith and high hopes, the coming Charter change will pave the way for us towards global competitiveness and inclusive growth.