Senator Santiago says no to charter changeBy Katherine Evangelista
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday slammed the proposal of some sectors to amend the Constitution through a charter change.
In a statement, Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, said if there will be charter change, it should be conducted by elected delegates in a constitutional convention and not by transforming Congress into a constitutional assembly.
Santiago said if Congress becomes a constitutional assembly, suspicion may raise that legislators could be serving personal agenda or agenda being pushed by lobby groups.
“Certain politicians boast that even if the nation calls for a constitutional convention with elected delegates, the local politicians would be able to control who the delegates will be.
That is hubris, unjustifiable pride of authority,” the senator said.
Santiago said a solution to the matter would be to educate the public to separate the constitutional process from political patronage.
“President [Benigno] Aquino, at best, seems to be lukewarm to the idea of charter change. His spokespersons have pointed out the economy under President Aquino has substantially improved, without resorting to a drastic change in the constitutional provisions requiring majority ownership by Filipinos of major corporations, particularly those dealing with exploitation of our natural resources. I agree with his view,” she said.
She added that amending the Constitution is not necessary to attract foreign investors.
“The reason why foreign investors shy away from the Philippines at this time is not the ownership rule mandated by our Constitution. There are two main reasons for the lack of foreign investment,” the senator said.
Santiago explained the number one reason why investors shy away from our country is the corruption within our bureaucracy and second if our current territorial dispute with China, which threatens the West Philippine Sea.
“Investors are culturally shy of investment opportunities in a country that faces potential instability from a neighborp-state that is less than friendly,” she said.
She added there is no emergency that requires charter change to be resolved.
“Why do we have to rush this before next year’s elections? The cha cha advocates even breached protocol by failing to inform President Aquino of their cha cha initiative,” she said.
The statement came after some senators said that a charter change is in order.