By Wilnard Bacelonia

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS. Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri filed on Monday (Jan. 15, 2024) a Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 that seeks to start the discussions on amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Zubiri said this is the result of his meetings last week with House Speaker Martin Romualdez and President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. whom he said designated the Senate to lead the process. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – The Senate leadership heeded President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s directive to lead the discussion of amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

This was after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri filed on Monday Senate Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, which proposes amendments to Articles XII, XIV and XVI of the charter.

Zubiri said the President suggested during their meeting last week with House Speaker Martin Romualdez for the Senate to pass the measure which would then be adopted by the House of Representatives.

Sabi niya (He said), why doesn’t the Senate take the lead in the discussions of the economic provisions, and then you approve your version which the House can adopt. So, that was the position of the President,” Zubiri told reporters.

Zubiri also recalled that the President said the people’s initiative was “too divisive” after having heard reports about bribery, threats, and disinformation while asking people for their signatures.

“He even said na eh dati akong senador. Bilang dating senador, hindi din ako papayag na ma-undermine o ma-diminish ang kapangyarihan ng Senado pagdating sa usapin ng (I was also a senator. As a former senator, I do not approve undermining or diminishing the powers of the Senate when it comes to) bicameralism,” he said quoting President Marcos.

Specified in the resolution filed by Zubiri are the proposed amendments to Section 11 of Article XII or the National Patrimony and Economy; Paragraph 2, Section 4 of Article XIV or the Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports; and Paragraph 2, Section 11 of Article XVI or the General Provisions.

“This is to avert a constitutional crisis between the House of Representatives and the Senate and to make it clear there [will be] no other planned provisions or amendments on any other thing but purely economic in nature. Tatatlo lang yung topic dito and napakasimple, napakalinaw. Ito po ay gagawin natin para nang sa ganoon ay (We only have three topics here which are very simple and clear. We will do this so that) we preserve the bicameralism of both House of Representatives and the Senate,” Zubiri said after filing the measure.

Senate Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, Zubiri said, will also “constitutionalize” the Public Services Act which is currently being questioned in the Supreme Court.

Sayang naman po yung mga [foreign investment] pledges na binaggit ng ating Pangulo at ng [Department of Trade and Industry] DTI sa ating bansa (We do not want to waste the foreign investment pledges announced by our President and the DTI for our country),” he said.

The Senate leadership is set to create a subcommittee that will discuss the proposed amendments to be chaired by Senator Sonny Angara.

Zubiri said the discussions on the amendments will start this month and will conclude by March this year.

He is also confident that he will get three-fourths or 18 votes out of the 24-member legislative body to approve the measure.

Senate’s initiative backed

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said he supports the Senate’s initiative to file a resolution that will be adopted by the House to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution.

“Our nation stands on the cusp of transformative economic growth, and it is imperative that we adapt our constitutional framework to the evolving global economic landscape,” Romualdez said in a statement.

“The amendments proposed are not just timely but necessary to unlock the full potential of our economy, fostering a more competitive, inclusive, and robust economic environment,” he added.

Romualdez believes that the synergy between the Senate and the House in passing this Resolution will send a strong signal of unity and purpose as it aligns with the aspirations of the proponents of the ongoing “People’s Initiative”, who have tirelessly advocated for constitutional reform.

Their efforts, born out of a necessity due to previous unsuccessful attempts at amending the Constitution through Congress, highlight the urgent need for these reforms, he added.

“We recognize that amending the Constitution is a significant and sensitive endeavor. It requires not only the collective will of Congress but also the support and understanding of the Filipino people. We are committed to ensuring that this process is transparent, inclusive, and reflective of the aspirations of our citizens,” he said.

He assured the Filipino people that their voices would be heard and their interests safeguarded as they embarked on this journey towards a brighter and more prosperous future for the Philippines.

“In this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, we stand together, united in our goal to usher in a new era of economic prosperity and stability. We look forward to engaging in constructive discussions and working collaboratively with all stakeholders in this important constitutional endeavor,” Romualdez said. (with a report from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)