Carlos: Charter must be rewritten, not just revised
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Carlos: Charter must be rewritten, not just revised

by | Sep 2, 2022 | Asia, News | 0 comments

NATIONAL Security Adviser Clarita Carlos on Friday called for the rewriting of the Constitution, saying that a piecemeal revision of the Charter is just a waste of time.

“We are changing it (Constitution) because we want structural change. We want structural change because we want behavioral change,” said Carlos during the continuation of the hybrid hearing of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, chaired by Sen. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla.

Among the other issues raised during the hearing were public finance in a federal system, how federalism will suit Filipino culture and the death penalty under a federal system.

Carlos said the fastest way to initiate changes is through institutional reform. She said the need to shift to a federal system is critical because the present structure no longer works.

Carlos cited the combinations of systems like a unitary-presidential, unitary-parliamentary, federal-presidential, or federal-parliamentary system.

Under a unitary system, which is the country’s present setup, everything is concentrated in the national or central government, which is in Manila.

“The action of the local governments is upon the instruction of the central government,” she said.

Under a federal system, “a lot of things which we get from the central government will lodge in the federal or sub-national units, and what will remain in the federal government are the coinage, immigration, foreign policy, and defense.”

Carlos said federalism “will remove the boundaries which have held us hostage to the national government.”

During the hearing, economist Solita Monsod, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines School of Economics, said the claim that the Constitution’s economic provisions have closed the door to foreign direct investment (FDI) is not borne out by the facts.

“Amending the Constitution is not likely to open any new doors to FDI because for all intents and purposes, the doors are already open. It is not necessary to amend the Constitution. What’s more, amending the Constitution will not bring in FDI unless the factors affecting FDI are addressed,” Monsod, the socio-economic planning secretary of the late president Corazon Aquino, said.

The committee is tackling Resolution of Both Houses 1 which seeks to convene the 19th Congress as a Constitutional Assembly and to propose amendments to restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution; and Senate Resolution 6 which seeks to review and study the Constitution.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd said he believes that adopting a parliamentary government will be beneficial for the Philippines since it is more suitable for the Filipino culture.

Pimentel said that unlike in a presidential system wherein the executive branch is the one that implements laws created by Congress, a parliamentary system merges legislative and executive powers.

The parliament determines the composition of the executive branch and its mission is to implement laws and programs authorized by the legislature, he said.

“I really want to pursue this parliamentary system of government. Maybe now is the right time, especially with the fast-changing technology, science and even economic policies and theories. So maybe we can react more quickly if we adopt a parliamentary system of government,” Pimentel said.

Padilla, meanwhile, was dismayed over the absence of members of the executive branch during the hearing.

Among the no-shows were Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla and his predecessor Alfonso Cusi.

“I thought members of the executive are our allies. If you are our allies, please show up. Our situation is very difficult. We want to strike a balance, but if that’s what we’re going to achieve here, let’s just have a parliamentary system. There’s nothing more to talk about here if we have a parliamentary system,” Padilla said.

“I cannot understand why the Senate has a hard time inviting secretaries. Our 1987 Constitution says the legislative and executive are coequal. But the executive department’s representatives who were invited do not show up. This cannot be set aside because this is the Constitution,” Padilla said at the start of the hearing.

He said a sensitive topic like reviewing the Constitution deserves the full attention of all stakeholders.

Senate minority leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd agreed with Padilla that in a parliament, government officials are required to show up during key hearings.

“I am not saying this is a panacea, but it can improve if we had a parliamentary system because the head of the agency implementing the laws passed by Parliament belongs to the Parliament,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said coequal branches of government “should respect each other.”

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Author: Javier Joe Ismael

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