Lawmaker wants charter change through constitutional convention
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has resurrected moves to change the 1987 Constitution, proposing to do so through the formation of a constitutional convention.
House Joint Resolution No. 12, introduced by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, cited the need to revisit the economic provisions of the Constitution “so that the Philippines may become globally competitive and attuned with the changing times.”
“Such constitutional reform has been identified by reputable business and economic groups as one of the key policy instruments that needs to (be) implemented, and is now long overdue,” Rodriguez said, adding that “political reforms may now be required to be incorporated in our Constitution.”
The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
Previous attempts to alter the Constitution failed to progress following allegations that these were actually intended to prolong the stay of incumbent politicians in their posts.
In a bid to avoid such opposition to charter change, Rodriguez said “the assumption of the new government counteracts any suspicion that the clamor for constitutional reform promotes vested interests and the personal ambitions of elective officials in the guise of constitutional amendments.”
The proposed House joint resolution also noted that “calling for a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution to be composed of elected delegates from all regions of the country would be the most democratic and least divisive among the three modes of amending the Constitution.”
Election in 2023
Should the joint resolution be approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives with a vote of two-thirds of their members, the election of delegates from each legislative district to the constitutional convention would be set in October 2023, or simultaneously with the rescheduled barangay polls.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair would be tasked to initially take charge of all arrangements for convening the constitutional convention, which would meet at the session hall of the House of Representatives on Jan. 8, 2024, to be presided jointly by the Senate President and the House Speaker until a presiding officer is elected among the delegates.
Delegates will have a term of office of six months, or until June 30, 2024, and the constitutional convention will be mandated to submit its report to the president, Congress, and Comelec within 30 days from the completion of the consolidated charter amendments or revisions.
“The amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution proposed by the convention shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the submission of the convention reports,” according to the proposed resolution.
The most recent attempt of the House to amend the 1987 Constitution was in early 2021, but this was rejected by several senators, saying the revisions sought by the purported “economic Charter change” were already being addressed by several proposed legislation.
Several senators also questioned the propriety of discussing amendments to the Constitution while the country remained gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.