OPENING STATEMENT – Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan Senate Hearing on Charter Change

We are here to tackle the following measures:

  1. Resolution of Both Houses 1 entitled “A Resolution of Both Houses of Congress Proposing Amendments to Certain Restrictive Economic Provisions in the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines Specifically on Articles XII, XIV and XVI Thereof”. This is introduced by Senator Gatchalian.
  2. RBH-2: “Resolution of Both Houses of Congress to Convene the 18th Congress as a Constituent Assembly for the Purpose of Introducing Limited Amendments to the 1987 Constitution”, introduced by Senators Francis “Tol” N. Tolentino and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa
  3. Senate Joint Resolution 1: “Joint Resolution to Propose Amendments to or Revisions of the Economic Provisions of the Constitution”. This is introduced by Senator Richard J. Gordon

For the record, proposed Senate Resolution No. 623 filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson was referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, this committee, in yesterday’s plenary session, January 26, 2021. Since the proposed resolution calls for the Senate of the Philippines to exercise its constituent powers under the 1987 Constitution, to propose amendments to/or revision of the Constitution and upon approval or three-fourths vote of its members, adopt the same. PSR No. 623 may touch on the issues being raised by the other resolutions subject of this hearing.

The Committee may tackle PSR 623 together with the resolutions in the agenda.

We are gathered virtually as the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment and Revision of Codes to discuss pending bills before us.

Today, we tackle anew the Cha-cha proposals of some of our colleagues against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic that has changed our world, battered economies, and affected almost every aspect of our lives

The pandemic has claimed over 10,000 Filipino lives of over half a million Covid-positive cases. As of yesterday, January 26, an additional 1,173 new cases have been reported.

Libo-libo rin sa ating mga kababayan ay jobless or kaya naman ay under-employed. Marami sa ating mga OFW ang kinailangang umuwi at ngayon ay walang hanap-buhay.

Yes, the 1987 Constitution is not perfect. While we recognize the wisdom of our eminent experts who drafted it in 1986, we should also realize that they were not prophets and were constrained by the realities at that time.

It is incumbent upon the next generations to reflect deeply on how this Charter can better respond to the challenges of the global community while protecting national interest and patrimony.

But many have raised this question: Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, is this the time to talk about Cha-cha? While we have the right intentions, could doing it now be the right time?

Will Cha-cha serve as the vaccine for our health crisis and economic recovery? Are we not treading on initiatives that have questionable efficacy for our survival and may have detrimental side effects on our national well-being?

These are crucial questions to ponder — which we hope will help us discern the value of this exercise.

To guide us in our discussions, for the information of our colleagues for this public hearing, we prepared three questions that we provided our resource persons in advance so that there is an organized presentation. And we hope that they will, and we expect them to answer these three questions for today’s hearing:

  1. Is there a need to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution now, given Covid and the economic downturn? What is the proposed timeline for Charter Change, given the upcoming National Elections scheduled in May 2022?
  2. Should the amendments or revisions be proposed by a Constitutional convention or by Congress itself acting as a constituent assembly? Why? Or why not?
  3. If Congress convenes as a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending or revising the Constitution, should the Senate and the House of Representatives vote jointly or separately?

If I may add, given the resolutions and amendments covering economic provisions only, can a constituent assembly when convened be prevented from tackling other issues outside of the economic provisions?

Hopefully, by the end of this hearing, we will have clarity as to whether kailangan nga ba, kailan ba, and paano ba.

We would like to welcome and thank our resource persons and our distinguished colleagues for taking time out to participate in today’s hearings.

Maraming salamat!


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