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Thursday, February 22, 2024

House backing people’s initiative for Charter Change — Speaker

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Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez revived talks to amend the 1987 Constitution during the Philippine Economic Forum in Iloilo on Monday.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives is inclined to support the people’s initiative as a mode to study proposals to rewrite the Charter.

“There are three modes to amend the Constitution, but we have had problems in addressing it, procedural problems,” said Romualdez during the Philippine Economic Forum in Iloilo.

“I am going to be sharing with you things that I have not shared with the public… I will actually be preempting our all-party leaders’ caucus this afternoon and sharing it with you here in Iloilo. We are thinking of addressing the procedural gap or question as to how we amend the Constitution.

“We will highly recommend that we embark on a people-centered initiative to cure this impasse, so to speak, on how we vote. And I hope that we can undertake this as soon as possible so we could have some clarity on the procedures. We’d like to have that [procedural problem] resolved by and through a people’s initiative,” Romualdez disclosed.

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He acknowledged that while the 1987 Constitution provided three modes to amend the Constitution, it did not explicitly state whether the House and the Senate would vote jointly or separately.

The 1987 Constitution provides that any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by Congress through a constituent assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; a constitutional convention during which Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its members, call a constitutional convention;

Or, by a majority vote of all its members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention, and a people’s initiative upon a petition of at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of the registered voters therein.

Romualdez added: “We feel that the Constitution should be prospective and not reactionary. Right now, it is very prohibitive, the most prohibitive in the region. We would like to lift these restrictions and allow the legislature just to regulate the economy just like other nations do.”

“So, this is what we’ll be embarking on in the ensuing months. And we will be working hand-in-hand with economic managers to see what the priorities are and what we should do. But I just wanted to share this with you,” Romualdez added.

Last March, the House approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6, which calls for a constitutional convention to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Romualdez in his message during the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) Day last September reiterated the necessity to amend the outdated and restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to attract more foreign investments, create jobs, open income opportunities for our people, and spur development.

Romualdez earlier said amending the charter’s restrictive economic provisions could redefine the country’s economic future.

“In summary, our Constitution, as noble and well-intentioned as it is, has elements that are no longer adaptive to our needs,” said Romualdez, leader of the 311-member House of Representatives and President of the Philconsa.

Romualdez was referring to the following: Article XII, Section 10, mandating a 60-40 ownership in favor of Filipinos in the development of natural resources; Article XVI, Section 11, limiting mass media ownership exclusively to Filipino citizens; and Article XII, Section 11, capping foreign ownership of land.

“Amending these provisions isn’t just a matter of law—it’s about transforming the opportunities available to every Filipino. It’s about catalyzing a new era of prosperity, characterized by more robust economic growth, technological advancement, job creation, and ultimately, a better quality of life for each and every citizen,” Romualdez earlier said.

He pointed out that although these provisions were drafted with patriotic intentions, these regulations have unintended adverse consequences, such as limiting job creation, among others.

“Countries like Vietnam and Indonesia have been welcoming foreign direct investments with open arms and reaping substantial benefits, mainly through job creation. We, on the other hand, have missed out on these opportunities due to our stringent regulations,” Romualdez said.

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