Enrile wants to overturn nuclear weapons ban in 1987 Constitution
Updated @ 12:04 a.m., March 23, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — Chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile wants to lift the Philippines’ constitutional ban on nuclear weapons.
Although he made it clear that he was not speaking on behalf of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Enrile expressed his support for revising the “antiquated” economic provisions in the Constitution. He also called for eliminating bans on deploying nuclear weapons in the nation.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate panels on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, electoral reforms and people’s participation, and finance, the 99-year-old former defense minister of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. said that the administration of Corazon Aquino had compelled the Philippines to accept the ban on nuclear weapons.
Aquino became President following the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ousted Marcos Sr.
The 1987 Constitution states: “The Philippines, consistent with the national interest, adopts and pursues a policy of freedom from nuclear weapons in its territory.”
“In my personal opinion, that is the most serious and unwanted provision of the constitution. In the modern world today, a small country can protect itself against the superpowers if they have nuclear weapons. We should remove that restriction and make the country flexible. If we can afford it, we should have nuclear weapons, so our people will not be trampled upon,” Enrile said.
The Philippines is one of the countries that signed the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which bans the development, production, and stockpiling of such dangerous armaments to eliminate them across the globe.
In 2021, the Senate concurred in the ratification of the international pact.
Aside from weapons, Enrile further pointed to the need to have nuclear power as an alternative fuel to boost the economy, noting that supplies of oil and natural gas are already dwindling.
Sen. Robin Padilla, the leading proponent of the charter change bid at the Senate, asked Enrile if these proposed constitutional reforms were urgent.
“It’s necessary. It’s necessary to amend it, but not necessarily to go to the other extreme of opening it immediately. Give Congress the power to determine how much and when,” Enrile answered in Filipino.
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