House okays charter change via constitutional convention
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which calls for a “hybrid” constitutional convention to amend or revise the Constitution.
Apart from the principal authors — notably Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez — the 301 lawmakers who voted for the resolution also asked to be included as its co-authors.
That number of lawmakers made Monday’s plenary session one of the most well-attended in the 314-member chamber.
This is not even counting the six who voted against RBH 6 and the sole abstention by Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.
The resolution sets an election for delegates to a constitutional convention (con-con) on Oct. 30, simultaneous with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.
Should that election push through, it would be a scene not witnessed by the country since Nov. 10, 1970, when delegates were elected to the 1971 Constitutional Convention which eventually drafted the 1973 Constitution.
That charter became the legal basis of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s “constitutional authoritarianism,” as he himself defined his rule under martial law.
What distinguishes the upcoming constitutional convention is that it would also be made up of 63 appointed delegates, selected by the House speaker and the Senate president.
RBH 6 said certain “economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution need to be revisited… so that the Philippines may become globally competitive.”
“Such constitutional reform has been identified by reputable businesses and economic groups as one of the key policy instruments that needs to be implemented,” the measure said further.
But at least two business groups have expressed reservations about the “costliness” of convening a Con-con, saying the provisions in question could be tackled by legislation or executive action.
The House went ahead anyway with its vote on Monday afternoon, with Majority Leader Jose Manuel Dalipe calling a caucus an hour before.
Romualdez later called for a picture-taking with the congressmen who approved the measure.
The six who voted against RBH 6 were Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
Meanwhile, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, who was not in the plenary vote, issued a statement on Monday saying: “This is to express our irresolution with the immediate approval of [the measure]. To reiterate, we are not in opposition [to it], but we suppose that it is not timely, our country is facing more pressing social and economic issues, like inflation and poverty, among others, [such] that we need to prioritize.”