By Azer Parrocha

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. does not consider making amendments to the 1987 Constitution as one of the priorities of his administration.

“It’s not a priority for me because maraming ibang kailangang gawin (there’s still so much to do)…There are so many other things that we need to do first that we can achieve kung makukuha naman natin ‘yung gusto (if we can get what we want) but within the way the constitution is written,” he said in a media interview on a plane en route to Manila on Sunday following his five-day official trip to Japan.

However, he acknowledged the House of Representatives’ push for economic provisions in the 36-year-old Constitution to encourage investments that would stimulate economic activities, create job opportunities, reduce poverty and lower the prices of goods and services.

“The reason that it’s being talked about is because of the economic provisions. Gusto nga natin magkaroon ng investment kung minsan sagabal. Alam naman ninyo ‘yung mga issue diyan (We want to have more investments and sometimes there are hurdles. You know the issues there),” he said.

“But for me, lahat itong mga pinag-usapan kaya nating gawin na hindi palitan ang Saligang Batas (all of these are being talked about so we don’t need to amend the Constitution),” he added.

During the observance of Philippine Constitution Day on Feb. 8, Marcos said the 1987 Constitution remains “dynamic” and “flexible,” noting that it has undergone several amendments to keep up with the “changing times.”

He said that the charter also continues to protect and uphold the “fundamental rights and freedom of every Filipino.”

House Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier said lifting the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution could be the Philippines’ ticket out of its “third world” status.

Speaking before reporters in Tokyo, he said making the 1987 Constitution “less restrictive” and “more open” would help the country compete in the region when it comes to business and investment.

The House, through the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, is currently deliberating on the proposed measures to amend the existing Charter.

Committee chairperson and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier said that the House leadership wants to put “special focus” on economic amendments in the ongoing Charter change (Cha-cha) discussions.

Aside from hearings in the House at the Batasan complex in Quezon City, the committee has also scheduled public discussions and dialogues in other parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Senator Robinhood Padilla, meanwhile, said he will continue the hearings on amendments to the economic provisions in support of the administration.

“As the President’s senatorial candidate in UniTeam, I support all his priority legislations. That said, I will pursue my own advocacies, with or without the President’s support, because that is my obligation to the people and I will stay the course in the Senate, as part of our democracy,” Padilla, chair of the Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes committee, said in a statement on Monday.

Padilla said the hearings will discuss some of the economic amendments to the 1987 Constitution and will not include political provisions, including the extension of terms or the changing of the form of government.

He pointed out that the resolution of both houses of Congress is strictly about the economy and investments that would bring jobs and livelihood.

“In my resolution, I made it clear that the Senate and House of Representatives will vote separately, so there will be no joint assembly, joint session or joint voting where the voice of 24 senators will be drowned by those of almost 300 members of the House,” Padilla said. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)