Bishops deplore ‘suspicious’ charter change revival

Published January 11, 2021, 2:10 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

Three Catholic prelates believe the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is being used as an excuse to amend the Constitution.

“They are using all kinds of reasons to push for ‘cha cha’ (charter change), and now the coronavirus. Before it was for economic reasons and then to reform party list laws. This is very suspect,” Archdiocese of Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in an interview Monday.

“At this time, to push for ‘cha cha’ is to extend terms or avoid election or avoid accountability (for) their misgovernance,” he added.

Retired bishops Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon and Teodoro Bacani Jr. agreed with Pabillo.

“No need for a change just because of (the) pandemic, which has no real effect on our present Constitution!” he said.

“This change (of) the restrictive economic provision is just a pretext for more undesirable changes!” added Bastes.

“They want to amend the constitution to address the coronavirus epidemic, tell that to the Marines,” Bacani said.

Bishop Bastes is convinced that any change in the Constitution will only benefit President Duterte and his allies.

“I oppose this renewed push for charter change! It will open a pandora’s box for more radical changes just to favor Duterte and his cohorts!” he said.

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said he already instructed the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to open the discussions on amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

He said foreign investment plays a crucial role in the Philippine economy by supporting domestic jobs and the creation of physical and knowledge capital across a range of industries. 

“The need to attract foreign capital (which) is critical to support our economy’s recovery from COVID-19,” said Velasco in a statement.