Robredo camp calls renewed charter change push a ‘waste of time, money’

( – January 7, 2021 – 5:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo slammed new moves to amend the Constitution, calling it a “waste of people’s time and money.”

“It’s amazing that even as we continue to struggle with Covid-19, lost jobs, and a shrinking economy, we have ‘leaders’ who still find ways to waste our people’s time and money,” Robredo’s spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez said Thursday.

Gutierrez quipped that perhaps the government should first ensure that it can provide vaccines for all Filipinos before wasting time on charter change.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) is leading the charge for charter change discussions in the House, with him giving a directive for the chamber’s constitutional amendments panel to tackle “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution.

House constitutional amendments committee chair Rep. Alfredo Garbin (AKO BICOL party-list) said they would solely focus on the Constitution’s economic provisions, which the leftist Makabayan bloc doubts as they pointed out that it is “open season” for any amendments to the charter, including term extensions and the lifting of term limits.

At the Senate, pro-administration Senators Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino filed a resolution calling on Congress to convene into a constituent assembly to introduce amendments to the charter on “democratic representation.” 

Some senators, however, are not keen on rebooting charter change discussions, with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon saying that it has “zero chance of success” as the administration is already in its home stretch.

Malacañang, meanwhile, denied that President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking to extend his stay in the Palace beyond 2022, when he is supposed to step down.

But Senate President Tito Sotto said Duterte wants to use charter change to crack down on communist rebels by abolishing or amending the party-list system.

Duterte and his allies have routinely claimed, albeit without proof, that leftist party-lists and groups are legal fronts of communist rebels. The dangerous charge has been repeatedly denied by those accused. — Xave Gregorio

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: January 6, 2021 – 9:12pm

The consultative committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution, eyes the removal of the impeachment power of Congress over justices of the Constitutional Court, one of the proposed three Supreme Courts under the draft charter.

READ: Concom eyes 3 supreme courts

Concom proposes that the impeachment of justices in Constitutional Court be decided instead by the 15-member Supreme Court.

The proposed Constitutional Court will have a presiding justice appointed by the Supreme Court and six associate justices with two appointees each from three branches of government.

LIST: Controversial features of proposed federal charter by House sub-committee

— with Edu Punay

January 6, 2021 – 9:12pm

Two senators have filed a resolution to convene the 18th Congress as a constituent assembly to introduce limited amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Sens. Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 on December 7, which seeks to revise the constitution “limited to the provisions on democratic representation and the economic provisions of the Constitution.”

“WHEREAS, against the backdrop mounting economic and health concerns brought about by the pandemic, it is important to ensure that the subsequent national policies and strategies for the rehabilitation of our nation be responsive to the needs of our people in order to bring about genuine economic growth and sustainable development,” the resolution reads.

January 6, 2021 – 8:46pm

House of Representatives leaders meet on Wednesday to discuss Charter change. 

House constitutional amendments panel chair Alfredo Garbin tells that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco gave a directive to tackle proposed amendments to restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

“It’s long overdue, ours is a 33-year-old Constitution of which it’s restrictive economic provisions no longer conforms to the needs of time,” Garbin says. —  Xave Gregorio

September 28, 2020 – 3:54pm

President Duterte does not intend to stay in power beyond his term, Malacañang said yesterday, as it maintained that the 2022 elections can only be postponed if the 1987 Constitution is amended.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the only elections that can be deferred are those that are not stated in the constitution like the barangay polls.

“It (postponing the 2022 elections) can never be an option for Malacañang unless the Constitution is amended,” Roque says, noting that the Constitution specifies the date of the election of the President, Vice President, representatives, and senators.

“The President is not interested in extending his term and he leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections,” he adds.

The constitution states that the regular election for President, Vice-President, senators, and members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

December 16, 2019 – 1:57pm

An attempt at the House of Representatives to change the 1987 Constitution to give local officials five-year terms will not prosper in the upper house of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says Monday. 

“If the House of Representatives would insist on passing Cha-cha, make it a point to include their return address, because the Senate and the Filipino people will not accept it,” he says in a press statement.

He says charter change is not among the Senate’s priorities, echoing an earlier statement from Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

The House committee on constitutional amendments reportedly approved in a closed-door meeting last week a resolution that would give House members and other local officials five-year terms from the current three-year terms.

The same resolution also adds the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to economic provisions in the charter.

July 23, 2019 – 10:56am

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon notes the omission of charter change and federalism from President Rodrigo Duterte’s 4th SONA, saying the president’s silence on the campaign promise “speaks volumes.”

“For me, the non-inclusion of federalism indicates that the [charter change] was laid to rest yesterday. The SONA became cha-cha’s ‘final resting place,'” Drilon says.

 Attempts to amend the 1987 Constitution during past administrations have failed and attempts towards the end of a sitting president’s term have suffered from a perception that these are attempts to do away with term limits and to stay in power.

“Hence, those who have plans to revive it this 18thCongress should better think twice. It will be an exercise in futility,” he also says.

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