The more than half a million signatures of Filipinos expressing support to amendments to the 1987 Constitution showed “strong public support” for Charter change, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya relayed Wednesday (January 13) to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
Malaya, who is part of the Inter-agency Task Force for Federalism and Constitutional Reform, presented to the House panel, chaired by AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin, around 555,610 signatures across different provinces in the country signifying all-out support to efforts to amend the Constitution, especially the economic provisions.
“The member of the committee may take a look at it and check if these are real individuals because, Mr. Chairman, this was done in a very transparent manner and we conducted all these roadshows and we can verify the signatures if need be,” Malaya told the Garbin panel.
“In fact, Mr Chairman, if not for the pandemic, I think we would have reached more than a million signatures because the pandemic started in March and our last roadshow was in February. We were only able to secure these signatures before the pandemic.”
He said they conducted provincial roadshows in 72 out of 81 provinces before the pandemic started, and in each of the roadshows, they asked who supports surgical amendments to the Constitution and if they wish to, they can sign a form.
“We were able to secure more than half a million signatures from Filipinos nationwide.”
“Considering the number of activities we have done in provinces and the number of signatures, that we have secured given the limited time before the pandemic, I think there is strong public support for the surgical amendments to the Constitution. We see this because we did the campaign on the ground,” Malaya pointed out.
In ensuring the veracity of the signatures, the full name and address of the signatories were included in the form.
“Sa tingin po namin (In our view), there is no better time now to lift the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, and we are in support of this Committee in driving reforms and paving the road to recovery of our nation through constitutional reform,” he said.
Malaya also cited that around 1,489 municipal mayors are in favor of amendments to the Constitution.
“The 1,489 members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines prepared a resolution in support of the surgical amendments including the lifting of restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution,” he said.
The Garbin panel resumed deliberations on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2, principally authored by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
RBH No. 2 seeks to amend restrictive provisions of the Constitution by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to sections of Articles 2 (National Patrimony and Economy), 14 (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports) and 16 (General Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution.
“These provisions have given rise to monopolies and oligopolies by some Filipino-owned industries at the expense of consumers,” Garbin said in his opening statement.
“We should not be afraid to compete in today’s globalized environment. In any case, the removal of these restrictive provisions through constitutional amendments cannot prevent Congress, when faced in the future by changing circumstances and new challenges, from introducing restrictions for national security and other ‘national interest’ reasons once we have attained our foreign investment targets and have sufficient capital from our domestic savings.”