Senate tackles Charter change

THE Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes on Thursday kicked off the process of rewriting the 1987 Constitution.

Sen. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla said this is part of his responsibility as chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.

“There is one truth that cannot be denied — that we Filipinos must respond to the call to improve and enhance our Constitution if needed,” said Padilla in Filipino at the committees' organizational meeting.

“We will keep an open mind for views, opinions and suggestions to enhance our Constitution,” he said.

The discussion centered on three points:

– Is there a need to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution?

– What modality will be appropriate for amending or revising the Constitution?

– For amendments and revisions to the Constitution, should the members of the Senate and House of Representatives vote jointly or separately?

Padilla said it cannot be denied that the Constitution has a key role in democratic countries like the Philippines — and that from 1898 to 1987, it had undergone changes.

“So many events have taken place, including revisions, to various versions of the Constitution for more than a century. If we would tackle them one by one, it would take quite a long time,” said Padilla.

Meanwhile, Executive Director Jonathan Malaya of the Center for Excellence in Local Governance agreed that it is time to amend the 1987 Constitution which he said was flawed.

Malaya, a former undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, maintained that no constitution the world over is perfect. He said the 1935 Constitution had so many amendments.

Since former presidents Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Joseph Estrada had undertaken studies on the issue of whether the Charter should be amended or revised, “there is logic to change” the Constitution, Malaya said.

He noted that the constitutional provision on political dynasties is “not self-executing.”

Now is the best time to begin the process of amending or revising the Constitution because the President might be suspected of wanting to extend his term if done later, Malaya said.

Piecemeal amendment through a Constituent Assembly is preferred because it is cheaper and faster.

Malaya favors separate voting by the Senate and House of Representatives on issues brought to the floor.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa agreed on the need to amend the Charter, saying the party-list system needs to be fixed because it is being used by political dynasties and by leftists.

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