'Not a new concept': Senate panel begins discussion on bid to amend charter | Inquirer News

‘Not a new concept’: Senate panel begins discussion on bid to amend charter

/ 11:16 AM August 25, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — A committee in the Senate on Thursday commenced its discussion on the possibility of amending the 1987 Constitution.

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In the first meeting of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments for the 19th Congress, panel chair Senator Robin Padilla stressed that amending the Constitution is not a new concept for the country.

The senator pointed out that the country’s constitution has been amended and revised several times in history.

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“May isang katotohanang nanaig, nananaig, at mananaig – ito ay ang katotohanang tumutugon ang mga Pilipino sa mga pagkakataong tinatawag tayo upang paigtingin, pagbutihin o lalo pang isaayos ang ating Saligang Batas kung kinakailangan,” Padilla, who has been vocal about pushing for constitutional amendments, said in his speech.

(There is one truth that has prevailed, is prevailing, and will continue to prevail—this is the truth that Filipinos will respond in times that we are called to improve or put changes in the Constitution if needed.)

“Bukas ang ating isipan sa mga kaalaman, opinyon, at suhestyon patungkol sa mga panukalang naglalayong pagbutihin pa ang ating Saligang Batas,” he added.

(Our minds our open for opinions and suggestions about the push to improve our Constitution.)

Padilla said the meeting of the committee seeks to answer several questions: the need to amend or revise the Constitution; whether Congress shall convene as constituent assembly or constitutional convention; and whether the Senate and the House of Representatives should vote jointly or separately on the proposed changes to the Constitution.

Among the resource speakers invited for the hearing are Atty. Christian Monsod, who was one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

Also invited are Jonathan Malaya, former Undersecretary of the Department of Interior and the Local Government and executive director of Center for Excellence in Local Governance, who is also a vocal about his support in amending the constitution.

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Understanding charter amendments

Since the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, there have been several attempts to tinker with the country’s highest law. However, none of them were successful.

In an earlier interview with INQUIRER.net, former chairperson of the House committee on constitutional amendments Rufus Rodriguez said that in general, two changes can be introduced to the Constitution: amendments and revisions.

An amendment includes basic changes that will not affect the Constitution’s structure, whereas revisions entail changes in the structure, such as changing the form of government, or the powers of the branches of government.

READ: EXPLAINER: The process of Cha-cha and why we should monitor it

There are also three ways to propose amendments or revisions to the 1987 Constitution: through constituent assembly (Con-ass), the constitutional convention (Con-con), or the People’s Initiative.

Earlier, political analyst Rommel Banlaoi warned that the process of changing the constitution at the outset may already be problematic.

For instance, the 1987 Constitution does not specify whether the two chambers of Congress will vote jointly or separately during the Charter change process.

“The Constitution is the law of the land and any law that will be passed will affect the lives of the people whether this law will cater to the vast majority of the people or will only cater to the few,” Banlaoi said.

“The law legalizes the state’s practice—whether the state’s practice will improve the lives of the people or aggravate the lives of the people—so that should be their concern,” he added.

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TAGS: Charter change, Robin Padilla, Senate committee on constitutional amendments
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