Ilonggo lawmakers back House public consultation on constitutional reform

(From left) Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda, Senator Ralph Recto, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Rep. Raul “Boboy” Tupas (Iloilo-5th), Uswag Ilonggo Rep. James “Jojo” Ang Jr., Rep. Michael “Mike” Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd), Rep. Ferjenel “Ferj” Biron (Iloilo-4th), and Rep. Lorenz “Nonoy” Defensor (Iloilo-3rd).

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Legislators from the city and province of Iloilo helped facilitate the second leg of the public consultation being conducted by the House of Representatives on constitutional amendments today at the Iloilo Convention Center.

Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo City Lone District Rep. Julienne “Jam” Baronda, Uswag Ilonggo Rep. James “Jojo” Ang Jr., Rep. Janette Garin (Iloilo-1st), Rep. Michael “Mike” Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd), Rep. Lorenz “Nonoy” Defensor (Iloilo-3rd), Rep. Ferjenel “Ferj” Biron (Iloilo-4th), and Rep. Raul “Boboy” Tupas (Iloilo-5th) helped in organizing and inviting the participants and resource persons of the 1-day consultation.

The lawmakers weighed in on the consultation in separate statements.

Rep. Biron, a member of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, said advancements in technology and economic concepts signal for changes in economic policies that will propel the Philippines’ growth and development.

Biron said the consultation is important to get the pulse of the public on charter reforms which will be the basis for future decisions of Congress.

Baronda said the proposed consultation will focus mainly on economic issues.

“There are sectors and experts who advocate for reforms in our Constitution to make it more relevant to the times. They argue that we have been left behind by our Asian neighbors because foreign investors are turned off by our economic restrictions. I think it makes sense to listen to our people—to the pros and cons—then weigh things out and decide on which way to move forward. This is democracy at its best,” Baronda said.

Rep. Ang said tectonic shifts in the world necessitated the changes to the Constitution.

“There are experts who say that our Constitution is outdated given that it was still from 1987 and needs to be more competitive and updated. Experts say our economic provisions need to be made more relevant to the demands of the times. So, we want to know what our people think about that,” he added.

Gorriceta said global challenges call for changes in current policies which are more than three decades old.

“We are faced with far more challenging realities today than more than 30 years ago when the 1987 Constitution was drafted. The economic restrictions are said to be turning away foreign direct investments. This is what we need to look into, and the series of public consultations being conducted by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments will enlighten us about this issue and help us make an informed decision.”

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, who will deliver the welcome remarks along with Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., supported the move citing the need to adapt to current trends in the global economy.

“The 1987 Constitution has seen so many changes in the country up to now. After 36 years, it is time that certain provisions of the Constitution should be carefully studied in order to make them relevant to the times. One area that needs a careful restudy are the economic provisions. We need to make them more relevant today so that we allow more foreign investments, which will result in rapid economic growth and more employment opportunities for our people,” Treñas said.

the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is tackling 12 ranging from changes to economic provisions and modes of amendments.

UP Visayas Chancellor Clement Camposano and Atty. Neri Colmenares will be the resource speakers.

Representatives from academia, NGO and Civil Society Organizations, LGU officials, the business sector, the private sector, and others were also invited to the consultation.

Rep. Defensor, senior vice chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, will preside over the hearing that aims to answer three major questions:

-Whether or not it is necessary to amend or revise the constitution?

-If in the affirmative, what is your preferred mode of amendment?

-What are your proposed amendments to the constitution, if any?

Rep. Margarita Ignacia “Migs” Nograles will discuss the merits of amending the economic provisions while Rep. Rodante Marcoleta will present the overview of the measures referred to the committee.

House members who confirmed their attendance include  Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, Deputy Majority Leader Wilter Y. Palma, Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Ramon C. Nolasco Jr., Deputy Majority Leader Jude Acidre, Deputy Majority Leader Alfred Delos Santos, Deputy Majority Leader Jose “Bong” Teves Jr., Assistant Majority Leader Anna Veloso-Tuason, Committee Vice Chairperson Divina Grace C. Yu, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Rep. Stella Quimbo, Rep. Raul Angelo “Jil” D. Bongalon, Rep. Jonathan Keith T. Flores, Rep. Margarita Ignacia B. Nograles, Rep. Richard Gomez, and Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez is expected to attend, too.