The Philippine Constitution remains “dynamic” and “flexible” because it can adapt to the times, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.
“It is indeed noteworthy that our Supreme Law remains a dynamic and flexible expression of our collective will, capable of adapting to the changing times and circumstances of our nation,” Marcos Jr. said in his speech on the celebration of Philippine Constitution Day in Malacanang.
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives who are pushing for constitutional amendments have reached a consensus to lift its overly protective economic provisions that restrict the inflow of foreign capital, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said.
He said deliberations on the proposed constitutional amendments are focused now on the need to encourage investments that would further stimulate economic activities, create job opportunities, reduce poverty, and lower prices of goods and services.
The Chief Executive said the Philippine Constitution has undergone several amendments to keep abreast with the conditions needed for the country to survive challenges in both the local and international scenes.
“As we honor the Supreme Law of the land and perpetuate this milestone, it is important to remember that it is through the lessons of the past that we are able to establish a government that embodies our goals and creates a vision for a just and humane society,” the President said.
“As we make sure that the spirit of the Constitution prevails over its letter, we take pride that it reflects the unique history and cultural heritage of the Philippines, includes provisions that protect the rights of indigenous peoples, promote social justice and ensure the protection of the environment,” Mr. Marcos added.
The President also acknowledged the work of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) in defending and promoting the importance of the country’s Charter.
“Your tireless work is an inspiration to us all, and I encourage you to continue your efforts,” Marcos told the group’s members.
Romualdez, who is Philconsa president, said the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments is conducting public hearings and consultations on proposed changes to the 36-year-old Constitution.
Aside from hearings at the Batasan complex in Quezon City, the House committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has scheduled public discussions and dialogues in other parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
“The proponents of the lifting of the economic provisions in the Constitution agree on one thing, opening the economy wide for inflow of foreign capital is the key to address the aspirations and ideals of Filipinos in present times,” Romualdez said.
“The dream of every Filipino family now is this: a peaceful community with jobs, good salaries, affordable goods, and the hope of advancing in life,” the Speaker stressed.
The President called on Philconsa to continue “supporting the government in its efforts to ensure that its plans and programs remain compliant with the tenets of the Constitution and laws of the land.”
“Philconsa’s role in safeguarding the Constitution is vital, and I am confident that you will continue to carry out your duties with the same dedication and commitment that you have shown throughout the years,” he added.
The President pointed out that apart from establishing a democratic system of government, which ensures the separation of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, the Constitution “also guarantees the fundamental rights and freedom of every Filipino.”
“Apart from being an allocation of power, we must also take to heart that the Constitution is also a social contract where the people have bestowed their sovereign powers to the State for the common good,” he said.
The President noted that it is vital to encourage every Filipino to recognize the significance of the country’s laws and Constitution. Apart from promoting them in the public realm, Mr. Marcos said creating a “truly just and equitable society is an ongoing process.”
Romualdez added: “That is why, when the President travels as the number one salesman of the country, we are often asked that after you have made so much progress and gains in opening up the Philippine economy, the last missing piece of the puzzle remains, how about your restrictive Constitution?”
“That is why we in Congress are facing up to this question and to this issue that burns to our minds today and may open up the aspirations of the Filipino people for tomorrow,” he said.
The Speaker highlighted the need for foreign direct investments or FDIs by citing data and the experiences of other countries, culled from the reports of the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, which show how FDIs stimulate economic growth.
He said based on United Nations data, FDIs account for the largest source of external financing in developing countries, greater than remittances, private debt and portfolio equity, or official development assistance.
“Higher FDI inflows can ease capital constraints and contribute to output and employment growth. Given the appropriate host-country policies and a basic level of development, a preponderance of studies shows that FDI triggers technology spillovers, assists human capital formation, contributes to international trade integration, helps create a more competitive business environment and enhances enterprise development,” he said.
“All of these contribute to higher economic growth, which is the most potent tool for alleviating poverty in developing countries,” he said.