Filtered By: Topstories

Zubiri to resign as Senate President if amendments other than economic tinkered in Cha-cha

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri assured the public on Thursday that he will step down from his post if amendments other than economic provisions will be introduced in Congress’ efforts to change the 1987 Constitution.

"What I said last night is exactly what came out. All the senators I had spoken to and met with only agree to economic amendments and that’s why the public need not fear our push for simple but meaningful amendments to the Charter," Zubiri said.

"I will risk my leadership on that. No other motives whatsoever," he added.

Zubiri, Legarda, and Senator Sonny Angara filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. It included reforms in the Public Services Act, education, and advertising industry by adding the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law."

Under Senate's RBH 6, all members of Congress will amend the economic provisions with the House of the Representatives and the Senate sitting as Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass).

The amendments made by the Con-Ass will be subject to ratification of the people via plebiscite.

Senator Risa Hontiveros cautioned his colleagues that the Charter change journey is treacherous, impractical, divisive, and unwise.

“Why are we attempting to solve our economic problems by creating another problem? Cha-cha can be transformative, but NOT when it is triggered by multiple hidden agendas, power struggle, and in-group bickering,” she said.

She said just like Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III, she is wondering why Charter change is suddenly in motion and being forced on the people.

If the country needs foreign investments, Hontiveros said it is better to build the confidence of investors.

“We need to build confidence in governance by eliminating corruption and improving our business environment, not by creating more instability through ChaCha,” she added.

Besides, amending the Constitution to open more of the most crucial industries — like public utilities, education, and advertising — to 100% foreign ownership will only expose the country to security risks and weaken national interests in a time of global unrest, the senator said.

She further said the proposal’s ultimate objective of stimulating and attracting more foreign investment is already addressed by present laws because the major part of the nation’s economy is already available for foreign participation, such as through the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act, and Public Service Act.

“So I am appealing to my colleagues in the Senate, let us move for more practical solutions that don't involve creating bigger problems,” Hontiveros said.

“In various surveys, time and again, our kababayans have remained undeniably vocal about their immediate needs. Let us not get distracted by the shiny allure of ChaCha, when, beneath all the gloss, it will only trap us in a never-ending cycle of political maneuvering,” she added.

The House of Representatives already approved its version of RBH 6 in March 2023, but it provides for Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) as a way to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Charter.

Amending the Constitution by Con-Con means the public will elect delegates to the Con-Con. These Con-Con delegates will then make the Constitutional amendments, which will be subject to ratification of the people via plebiscite.

There is also an ongoing signature campaign for people's initiative in amending the 1987 Constitution wherein the voter is asked if he or she is in favor of amending Article 17 Section 1 of the Constitution by allowing all members of Congress to jointly vote on proposed constitutional amendments via Con-Ass.

This amendment is a departure of the current Constitutional provision on Con-Ass which does not explicitly state whether all members of Congress should vote jointly or separately on proposed amendments to the Charter.—AOL, GMA Integrated News