March 22, 2023 - Wednesday
Website Name Image
Weather icon
29.85 ℃, Scattered clouds
Davao City, Philippines

Cha-cha ‘not holy elixir’ to cure PH’s problems

January 26, 2023 - Thursday 6:01 PM by Patricia Francia Lachica

Article Banner Image Photo courtesy: Law Hub

Constitutional change is not the “silver bullet” nor the “holy elixir” to cure the country’s problems, according to the faculty members of the University of the Philippines Department of Political Science (UP DPS), as the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments started its hearing and series of public consultations on the amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

“It is not a panacea to remedy our socio-economic ills or the only means to accomplish our national desires and aspirations,” the UP Department of Political Science stated.

The department added that reforms can be pursued through an appropriate mix of legislation and policy interventions, and not simply through constitutional amendments or even an overhaul. 

“Constitutional revision is an arduous task requiring care and rigor as it has long-lasting effects on our development trajectory as a nation, with consequences that may both be intended or unintended,” it added. 

As for the issues of the scope of changes, UP DPS said the change envisioned in the current constitutional reform process must articulate the nature of the break it wishes to achieve. 

“It must also be crystal clear that the problems the charter revision wishes to address cannot be done through constitutional amendment, regular legislation, and/or executive action. Our people need to hear from the political leadership answers that are based on grounded and evidence-based claims. Our people deserve no less,” it continued. 

UP DPS also cited a 2018 Pulse Asia survey, where it showed that “around 67% were against changing the charter during the time the survey was conducted (with 37% against it “now and in the future” while 30% are against it “now but may be open to it sometime in the future”) while 18% “support charter change now” and 14% are undecided.”

“Any attempt to amend the constitution or change the charter requires prior consultative and deliberative processes involving a genuinely informed citizenry. The claim that there is public clamor for constitutional change remains unsubstantiated,” said the UP DPS. 

‘Cha-cha not needed now’

Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc likewise said charter change is “not needed now” as the lawmakers pointed out the bills for the amendments in the 1987 Constitution, proposing the following:

- The President and Vice-President would now have a five-year term from six years, with the ban on reelection removed. He/she can be President or Vice President for 10 years maximum.  The President and Vice President must belong to the same political party. The incumbent and previous presidents are barred from running for reelection.

- Members of the House of Representatives would now have five-year terms instead of three, with a maximum of two terms, meaning 10 years straight in office.

- Elected local officials except barangay officials would also get five-year terms instead of three, with a maximum of two consecutive terms instead of three.

“The Makabayan bloc in Congress stressed the supreme irony as it aims to amend the very Constitution that was born out of the anti-dictatorship struggle that ousted the Marcoses from power in 1986,” the Makabayan bloc said. 

“If the Marcos administration makes this measure a priority, it only proves that Marcos Jr. is president for himself, his family, and his cohorts and not for the people,” they added.

“Opening the gates of charter change is only an excuse to slice and dice the Constitution for the personal purposes of those pushing for it. This is simply a desperate attempt of the Marcos administration to hold on to power even with less than seven months in office, silence critics, and remove those who have been exposing their shameless and disrespectful acts and reminding the people of the sins of their family which ultimately made the Filipino people suffer,” the Makabayan bloc ended.