In recent weeks, there have been talks in the national legislature about possibly amending some provisions of the 1987 Constitution which, in the eyes of change champions, have become musty.
Such topic has been in practically every administration since the executive-appointed Constitutional Commission of 1986 came up with the 1987 Charter, now seen as old after 36 years.
The first attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution was under President Fidel Ramos, when the proposed changes included a shift to a parliamentary system and the lifting of term limits of public officials.
Under President Joseph Estrada, there was a similar attempt to change the 1987 Constitution, which process was termed as CONCORD or Constitutional Correction for Development.
Unlike Constitutional Reform under Ramos and Arroyo the CONCORD proposal, according to its proponents, would amend only the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution considered to impede the entry of more foreign investments in the Philippines.
During the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, multiple attempts were made to change the 1987 Constitution when, by Executive Order 453 in August 2005, she created the Consultative Commission which proposed revisions relating to, among others, a shift to a unicameral parliamentary form of government.
Under President Benigno Aquino III, several proposals were put forth by different members of Congress.
One called for Constitutional reform to convert to a federal republic; another bill was filed in the House of Representatives pushing for a federal and parliamentary government, in addition to economic liberalization.
During the May 2016 election, Rodrigo Duterte stated a plebiscite on the proposed replacement of the unitary state with a federal one would be held in two years.
In the first year of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., talks are humming once more to have the 36-year-old Constitution amended, with some Constitutional law experts suggesting there are clearly irresolute provisions that must be addressed.
Members of the House of Representatives have filed several proposals to amend the sections of the Constitution regarding economic, political, and judiciary reforms.
In the Senate, meanwhile, several of its members rejected proposals to amend the Constitution, with Senate President Miguel Zubiri saying it was “too controversial” as the administration was just starting.
The President himself has said Charter change is not his priority because he believes his administration’s economic agenda can be pursued without amending the Constitution.
The President said: “There are so many other things that we need to do first that we can still, we can achieve if we can achieve what we want but within… the way the Constitution is written,” he said.
President Marcos has acknowledged some economic provisions in the Constitution such as land ownership could be a “hindrance” in attracting more foreign investments.
But he argued pump-priming the economy can be done without revising the Constitution.
In the meanwhile, fears lurk in the horizon—with tensions rising in the geopolitical landscape —whether a Constitutional Convention or a Constituent Assembly or some other be made to amend some provisions of the Constitution or the whole of it.