House will follow Marcos’ direction on economic Cha-cha, leaders say
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives would adhere to the direction set by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions, the chamber’s leaders said on Monday.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said during a press briefing on Monday that the talks on constitutional amendments have been clearer now since Marcos himself talked about the issue.
Salceda was referring to Marcos’ statements at the Constitution Day celebration in Makati last Friday, where the Chief Executive maintained that he only wants economic provisions amended.
“Follow the President. ‘Yon po talaga ang suma total nitong usapin sa ngayon. The House will follow the president, period. So let there be no other ambiguity about it, of the direction of the House, of what the House will do. We will follow the President in his latest speech,” Salceda said.
Salceda also took notice of the President’s decision to initially, avoid discussions about amending the 1987 Constitution as it could affect his call for unity — since the said Constitution was created after the Edsa People Power revolution that ousted his father, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
However, the fact that the younger Marcos would choose to support amendments despite the risks of him being criticized for it shows how pressing the issue is
“The President’s main governing theme is unity, so he is very careful about public perception and anything that has to do with Edsa ‘86, especially its articulation of the Constitution. He is careful not to be perceived as dismantling the 1987 Constitution as he has been careful about all other visages of the ‘86 Revolution,” Salceda said.
“Sabi ko nga, mas dilawan pa ‘to kay PNoy (As I said, Marcos is more ‘dilawan’ than former president Noynoy Aquino). So for the President to come out in support of charter change despite his usual reservations on such matters clearly shows that he sees this as urgent,” he added.
Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales also echoed Salceda’s statements, saying that no less than Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez would heed the President’s call for constructive debates to take over in talks about the constitutional amendments.
“Ang masasabi ko lang, it’s very loud and clear from the President (on his desire to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution). We will follow the President. The Speaker (Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez) will follow the President. At kami pong lahat na miyembro dito sa House of Representatives (will follow the President),” Gonzales said.
“Ito na ‘yung discussion. Ito na ‘yung sinasabi ni Presidente na healthy democratic discussion ng ating (constitutional) economic provisions. Ngayon pong oras na ito ay naghe-hearing na sa Senado, sana ay magtugma na itong pinag-uusapan natin para dito sa ating dream na Charter change sa economic provisions,” said Gonzales.
(This is the discussion. This is what the President has been saying, a healthy democratic discussion about the constitutional economic provisions. Right now the Senate is hearing proposals, we hope it coincides with our dream of a charter change in economic provisions.)
Deputy Speaker David Suarez meanwhile said that the legislative branch must now act to ensure that the country achieves a middle-income status by 2025, as Marcos said in his speech.
“When the President gave a date and a clear goal, it is up to the Legislative Branch to cooperate and to make sure that objective is met,” Suarez said, saying that the ideal time for the Senate to pass any measure that will amend the Constitution is within the next few months.
“Para masiguro natin na by 2025, ‘yung ninanais ng ating Pangulo ay makamit ng ating bansa (So we can ensure that by 2025, what the President wants would be achieved by the country),” he added.
The House and the Senate have been at odds recently due to discussions about amending the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions. Last December, Speaker Romualdez and Gonzales brought up the possibility of hearing charter change proposals again to open restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.
However, Gonzales said they may entertain charter change through People’s Initiative (PI) as the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 was not acted upon by the Senate.
But after the PI gained traction, the Senate accused the House of being behind the campaign, even claiming that the PI intends to abolish the Senate, by introducing joint voting in deciding on the proposed constitutional amendments.
House leaders including Romualdez have denied being behind the PI, saying several times that they do not intend to abolish the Senate. Instead, lawmakers reiterated that they were calling for a constituent assembly through RBH No. 6.
Eventually, the Senate filed its own version of RBH No. 6, which the lawmakers hoped would end the squabble between the two chambers. However, tensions continued when the the House last February 5 adopted a resolution defending Speaker Romualdez from the Senate’s alleged “intense assaults.”