Robin on Charter debate: Let’s talk, not bicker

SEN. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla on Friday stressed that the Senate discussions on amendments to the Constitution should not be the spark for bickering.

Padilla made this clear after suspending the hearing of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Reforms and Revision of Codes, which he chairs.

SEN. Robinhood

He said the hearings aim to gather insight into how the Charter can be fine-tuned to better address the problems facing the country like joblessness, high electricity rates and low wages.

Padilla suspended the committee's second hearing but made it clear that “we are not closing the discussion on the subject, definitely not.”

“We are gathering information on how to benefit our people. We are not fighting. If you hear people raising their voices, it is out of a passion for positive change. But what we are doing is necessary,” he said.

“What we need is to discuss how we will ensure progress. We cannot rely on promises if we want change. We must act and not just talk,” he said.

He assured that the committee will not favor any side in the debate on Charter change.

Among the resource1 speakers were Christian Monsod, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman; law professor Katrina Monsod; and Jonathan Malaya, executive director, Center for Excellence in Local Governance and former Department of the Interior and Local Government undersecretary.

What appeared as a strident call to action was voiced by Orion Perez Dumdum, overseas Filipino worker (Singapore-based) and principal co-founder and lead convenor of the Constitutional Reform and Rectification for Economic and Competitiveness and Transformation Movement.

During the hybrid committee hearing, Dumdum called on the government to open the country to foreign direct investments if it wants to develop economically like its Southeast Asian neighbors such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Dumdum said Vietnam has outpaced the Philippines because of restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution which was “hastily written” during the term of President Corazon Aquino.

He said the present charter protects big businesses, and a parliamentary form of government is far better than a presidential one, which engenders corruption.

Padilla agreed with Dumdum that easing economic restrictions could help the Philippines pick up the pace of growth.

He said the 60-40 ownership rule enshrined in the Constitution only benefits the oligarchs.

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