It is time to amend the 1987 Constitution. ‘’The flaws are there.’’
Executive Director Jonathan Malaya of the Center for Excellence in Local Governance and former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) undersecretary, stressed this during the organizational meeting of the Senate constitutional amendments and revision of codes and laws committee chaired by Senator Robinhood C. Padilla today.
Talking in Filipino, Padilla gave a lengthy background on the Philippine Constitutions.
He later threw questions on whether it is time to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution; what is the appropriate mode in amending or revising the 35-year-old Constitution and; should the Senate and House of Representatives vote separately or jointly?
Since past Presidents-Fidel V. Ramos, Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo and Joseph Estrada - had undertaken studies on the issue of whether the Charter should be amended or revised, ‘’there is logic to change’’ the Constitution, Malaya said.
Malaya maintained that no constitution the world over is perfect.
He said the 1935 Constitution had so many amendments.
Senator Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa said the party list system in the Constitution needs to be fixed because it is being used by political dynasties and by leftists.
Malaya said the Constitution provision on political dynasties is ‘’not self-executing.’’
He said the current 19th Congress that began last July 1 is the best time to begin the process of amending or revising the Constitution because the President might be suspected of wanting to extend his term if done later.
Malaya said piece meal amendments through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) is preferred because it is cheaper and faster than through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) mode.
He said revising or amending the Constitution through the ConAss mode is preferred because it is transparent as the spread of information is fast through fast information technology (IT).
Malaya favors the Senate and House of Representatives voting separately on issues brought to the floor.
Christian Monsod, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman, said the World Bank never figured the Philippine Constitution as hindrance to foreign investment inflows.
He said Congress had authored laws to influence investment inflows such as the one amending the Public Service Act .
Monsod said China has huge investment inflows although it is s communist country.
He favors amendment, not revision, to the Constitution.
The former Comelec chief said the problem of the Philippines is the Legislature because it has become the seat of power of polltical dynasties.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the liberalization of four sectors of the Philippine economy, which he says remain to be protected under the 1987 Constitution.
During the hybrid organizational meeting of the Padilla committee, Gatchalian said he filed a bill that aims to liberalize the public utility, educational institutions, mass media, and advertising sectors.
He, however, pointed out that he left out one economic sector, which was the real estate / property sector, citing the adverse consequences should Congress allow the 100 percent foreign ownership of land.
“I filed this to bring the conversation (on full ownership) out. I am open in hearing the pros and cons in liberalizing some sectors here. The aim of this measure is to spark conversation, to learn the pros and cons. Admittedly, there are things we need to study carefully to protect national interest and national security,” Gatchalian said.
The discussion resumes tomorrow as Padilla had to cut short his committee hearing because he has to hold another organizational meeting
The other is the Senate cultural communities and Muslim affairs committee.