Legislative turnover and Charter change


rosario braid final.jpg


I think that legislative rotation or turnover is a practice that is more common in our country than in neighboring countries. It again happened recently when Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri stepped down a few days ago. “I was not following instructions, that's why... I disobeyed the powers that be. It's sad because I did everything to protect the independence of the Senate… I fought the good fight… If I have ruffled some feathers in doing so, if I have upset the powers that be, then so be it" he noted. 

He also believes that it was because he allowed Senator Ronald dela Rosa to continue holding an inquiry into the “Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) leaks.” 

Migz Zubiri, at 39 years old, is one of the youngest senators. Now serving his third term when chosen as the 24th Senate President, he championed the Bangsamoro Organic Law and several measures on peace and development. But he was lukewarm toward Charter change and believed that it’s a dead issue in the Senate. 

Of course, the Senate turnover was welcomed by his fellow Senators and congressmen at the House of Representatives who felt that the takeover by Senator Escudero would “breathe life into the bill that has been languishing in the House of Representatives.” 

Former Senator Franklin Drilon who was Senate President four times, attributes the change partly to the country’s flawed political party system. “We lack a party system in the country whereas in mature democracies abroad, you will see that the decisions are made on the basis of the political parties’ decisions,” he was quoted as saying in a report in a publication in Iloilo. 

It seems that pro-Charter change legislators are again trying to revive earlier initiatives at Charter change. This, despite the results of surveys which showed that Charter change is not a priority. 

Pulse Asia’s March 24 Ulat ng Bayan survey noted that a significant majority (72 percent) of the public was aware of proposals to change the 1987 Constitution. The same survey showed that around three out of four Filipinos (74 percent) do not favor changing the Charter now or any other time. This is the highest level of opposition to Charter change registered in the surveys dating back to August 2000. 

The March 24 Ulat ng Bayan also revealed equally substantive opposition to proposals to allow foreign individuals or corporations to control firms/institutions in economic and social sectors. Around four out of five (81 percent) of Filipinos do not favor allowing foreign individuals or corporations to own residential and industrial lands. Eighty six percent of Filipinos are not in favor of allowing foreign individuals or corporations to exploit our natural resources. 

On factors that hinder foreign investment, a majority identified complicated rules and regulations, restrictive rules on foreign ownership, corruption, inadequate transport infrastructure, and high cost of electricity. The public also sees negative and positive outcomes of removing restrictions against foreign ownership. ([email protected])