Insisting that the current 1987 Philippine Constitution is no longer responsive to the needs of the people, Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo on Sunday, Jan. 29, called for a Constitutional Convention (Con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution and usher in economic growth and national development.
In a statement, the lawmaker lamented how the current Constitution has restricted the flow of investment in the country because of some of its provisions.
“It has been 36 years since the adoption of our Constitution, and crucial developments in our society and in the global arena over the years and the present social and economic realities have rendered some parts of it less responsive to our people’s needs,” Salo remarked when he filed House Bill No. (HB) No. 6920.
The bill’s explanatory noted the current Constitution contains numerous restrictions impeding the flow of foreign capital in specific areas of the country’s economic activity.
“These restrictions have been found to hamper economic growth, dilute the competitiveness among the country’s industries, and ultimately stunt national development over the years,” the congressman explained.
On the restrictions on foreign ownership, Salo said that while these are designed for the benefits of Filipino citizens, they also limit the country’s capability to generate the requisite capital to boost our economy and develop our natural resources.
“It is high time to liberalize such restrictions to encourage the free flow of capital into the country and enhance its global competitiveness,” he stressed.
The amendments he proposed will aid the economy as it navigates from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While our vigilance to protect and prioritize the Filipino citizens remain, our policies must evolve in order for the country to continually progress and remain competitive globally,” Salo added.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments began formal deliberations on proposed measures for Cha-cha.
READ: Here’s what happened during 5-hour House Cha-cha hearing
While there are three ways—Constitutional Assembly, Constitutional Convention, or People’s Initiative—to reform the Constitution, Salo explained that People’s Initiative is only limited to amendments, and not to revisions of the Constitution and Constitutional Assembly is open to abuses and conflict of interest.
He is confident that Con-con, despite being the most expensive method, would address the concerns associated with People’s Initiative and Constitutional Assembly because its members would be specifically elected to reform the current Constitution.
“We have provided for high standards and certain disqualifications in this proposed measure so we can be sure that those who wish to be elected as a delegate in the Constitutional Convention are the most qualified; this will safeguard the integrity and sanctity of the entire process,” Salo said.
Under the proposed measure, Con-con delegates would be elected on the third Monday of January 2024.
The Convention shall be composed of not more than 310 members that will come from all legislative districts, with the remaining seats to be allocated to the party-list system.
From the time of its convention, the members would be given 24 months to submit to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) its proposed amendments for the ratification of the Filipino electorate.
“The last two times that our Constitution was reformed were also made through a Constitutional Convention in 1971 and 1986,” Salo said.
“The Constitution is the most fundamental and supreme law of the land, it is essential that it is periodically updated and dynamic so it can keep abreast with the needs of both the present and future generations,” he furthered.