Amend our “outdated” 1987 Constitution asap
Sharp Edges

Amend our ‘outdated’ 1987 Constitution asap

/ 05:00 AM February 27, 2024

Until the Supreme court rules on the constitutionality of either “separate” or “joint” Congress voting on proposed Constitutional amendments, both Senate and the House of Representatives would be on deadlock, standstill, or stalemate.

A ruling is necessary because the 1987 Constitutional framers “forgot” or were either “careless” when they did not specify how the two chambers will vote to get the required “three fourths of all its members” in a joint Constituent Assembly session.

This main difference is on both Senate Resolution of Both Houses-6 and the House Resolution of Both Houses 7 today.   Senators insist on their “voting separately provision” while the House called it “unconstitutional” and did not adopt it. Section 1, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution only says, “The Congress, upon a vote of three fourth of all its members” in amending or revising the Charter. For Senators, joint voting would render them useless and drowned out by majority numbers from the House.


Legal experts have mixed opinions. One side says, both Senate and House can convene jointly as one assembly, then vote separately. National interest is represented by the Senate, and the local interest is represented by the House which is the essence of bicameralism.  But the other side claims the bicameral nature of Congress is principally meant only for its legislative functions. When Congress convenes as a Constituent assembly, it is performing a function not legislative in nature, hence they should vote as one Congress or jointly.


So, whatever comes out of both Senate or House resolutions, the constitutional question of voting jointly or separately is a justiciable issue that must be clarified by the present Supreme Court.  And to successfully amend the Constitution, this High court ruling must be made before October to allow sufficient time for a plebiscite and coincide with the 2025 general elections.

But for the Supreme Court to rule, both Senate and the House, in agreement, should first convene as a Constituent Assembly and vote separately or jointly, and then submit its approved amendments to the justices to ultimately decide whether that was the constitutionally correct decision.

Some people still insist on “status quo” for the 1987 Constitution, and in the December 2023 OCTA research, only 1 percent says it is an urgent national concern.  Earlier in March last year, Pulse Asia says there was a 10 percent increase of people clamoring for charter change, up 41 percent from 31 percent in 2022. I can understand the changing perception of Filipinos, because living in the 1980’s is totally, and very opposite of what is happening today.

Times changed too drastically, and our “old” Constitution needs to be remodeled asap to protect and help our nation against modern global changes and challenges.  Before 1986, life was very simple. We were all unaware then that a tsunami of various technological innovations will happen, first the invention of the mobile phone, to directly affect then change our daily lives forever.

Then came Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud services, cryptocurrency, microchips, quantum computing, drone technology, 5mobile phones, social media apps (You tube, X, Facebook), Google search, Streaming TV (Netflix, Roku), dark internet, deep-fakes, Self-Driving vehicles, Lithium batteries, Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Genetic Engineering (clones), Greentech and Cybercrimes/hackers to name a few. Every Filipino are slowly but surely being affected and made aware of these new developments. I would consider renewed interest on people’s initiative campaign is indicative of these sentiments. 

Today, these technological changes are sweeping every nation in the world, directly affecting their economies and people. Our country with 118-M people is no exception and to a certain extent we are now considered as most “vulnerable” to sudden global technologies. No thanks to our old and non-agile 1987 Constitution. It was meant to always protect every Filipino, but was it too conservative and restrictive? Or should it remain as is because it was successful?


But the question remains.  Can our people rely on the present leaders of Congress to make the necessary adjustments to this old charter?  We have a senate and senators that wanted to stay in power at all costs. On the other hand, they are tagging the Speaker and his 311 congressmen as enemies with insidious political agenda.

These disagreements among legislators are nothing new but oft repeated. From Presidents Cory, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Pinoy and Duterte, different situations of stalemates, standstill, and deadlock happened, and at each time.  our neighboring ASEAN countries are celebrating on our self-inflicted economic hara-kiri. 

Now two years into the six years of the Marcos Jr administration, we are again given a chance to wake-up to the new World Order. There is enough time for a plebiscite next year, but Senate President Migs Zubiri, the senators and House Speaker Martin Romualdez and congressmen need to reconcile and work together for the sake of our country and people.

Up Close and personal

A top executive of a ride hailing company whose picture in tight embrace with Palace officials is now under scrutiny in community chat groups.  The official hinted regulatory approval of his company citing close friendship with Malacanang.

However, the chairman of a government agency and head of the Technical Working Group noted in that chat group that the top executive’s company is excluded from the pilot implementation study. In reaction, the top executive seemingly belittled the official’s statement and uploaded the Malacañang photos of PBBM up close with his foreign principal.

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Further, the said top executive admitted having many enemies but there are also many friends of his company referring to the Presidential photo and his foreign principal.

TAGS: Constitution, opinion, Sharp Edges

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