Eliminate inherent obstacles first before Charter change

Eliminate inherent obstacles first before charter change

/ 04:05 AM January 16, 2024

I couldn’t help reacting with knitted brows to the plan to amend the 1987 Constitution through a constitutional assembly and people’s initiative. With due respect, nothing is as unthinkable, and amusing, too. Why use two modes when one will do? I believe amending our present Charter has been long overdue. The jinx is, we are not moving in the right direction.

If I understand the concept of initiative correctly, the people may directly propose amendments to the Constitution should Congress be remiss in its duty under the two traditional modes: constitutional assembly and constitutional convention as provided by Section 1, Article XVII. Congress hasn’t as yet reached that point, I suppose. So, why proceed to people’s initiative outright? Moreover, there are other basic reasons why the people’s initiative is not the right mode to adopt.First, there is yet no sufficient enabling law as required by Section 2, Article XVII, for its implementation.

Second, this mode is limited to mere amendment. Following the last three and a half decades of our continuing failure to keep abreast with the times via constitutional change, this mode has grown irrelevant and out of place; we now need a revision.

Third, under Section 2, Article XVII, the petition for people’s initiative must be signed by 12 percent of the total registered voters; under Section 32, Article VI, which directly relates to the same system of people’s initiative, only 10 percent must sign. As this glaring discrepancy need not be ignored, one wonders which number dwells in the House officials’ minds.


Meanwhile, having junked the feasibility of the people’s initiative does not automatically justify its outright replacement by constitutional assembly. Any lawmaker worth his salt will readily agree that the constitutional provision under Section 1, Article XVII, is intended for and should strictly apply to governments whose legislature is unicameral, such as the elder Marcos’ 1973 Charter. Ours is bicameral.

Amidst the foregoing concerns, we still have to see or hear of congressmen who seem to at least realize the inherent setbacks toward amending the present Charter. Meanwhile, some well-known senators are openly against amending the Charter now, saying we are still reeling from the impact of COVID-19. Is that so, or, aren’t they just secretly revolting against their political disadvantage vis-à-vis the congressmen?

Let us get real. How can we amend a Charter whose very own provisions for amending it are grossly wrong, self-defeating, and undoable? At the very least, we certainly do not wish the 1987 Constitution to remain unchanged forever. Common sense simply dictates that we eliminate all inherent obstacles first before we even start thinking of things to change and/or the proper mode to change them.

Batangas City

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TAGS: charter change, constitutional amendments, Letters to the Editor

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