Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said yesterday there would be enough time for the Senate and the House of Representatives to let constitutional reforms happen before President Rodrigo Duterte's term ends in 2022.
Año said he was confident the move to amend the 1987 Constitution could pass plenary debate as Congress prepares for deliberations on the committee report endorsing economic amendments which were earlier approved by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendment.
"We are optimistic that this constitutional reform that we are advocating for will be heard by Congress and the Senate," the DILG chief said. "We still have enough time, although the President's remaining time is about two and a half years, which, for us, are still enough."
Año said he was also confident that with the help of administration allies in the Senate, the Upper Chamber would also open discussions and eventually approve moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.
On Monday, a movement spearheaded by civil society organizations (CSOs) and proponents of changes to some provisions in the Constitution was launched during a press conference in Camp Crame.
On the same occasion, CORE Movement officials led by former Masbate Gov. Vicente Homer "Vince" Revil turned over to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the House committee chair, the group's resolution calling on both houses of Congress to approve a broad package of social, political and economic reforms in the Constitution.
Rodriguez said he would conduct further hearings on the amendments submitted by the CORE Movement through Año and Revil, the CORE Movement national chairperson.
Rodriguez' committee had already voted to put the provisions opening the country's economy to foreign investors and restructuring the terms of office of elected officials to the plenary for deliberations.
However, the CORE Movement appealed to Rodriguez and other House leaders to re-open discussions on their proposed amendments and allow a broader set of constitutional reforms that would open up the Charter's social, economic, political, and electoral provisions.
Rodriguez said he has also received another set of constitutional amendments being pushed by the Cabinet-level Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reforms (IATF).
"We will set a briefing in the House of the Representative Committee by next week to have the briefing of the DILG on the priority amendments to the 1987 Constitution and also from Constitutional Reform Movement on the Resolution and both of them would like to hear in Congress, so that after which we will be able to have public hearings on these very important provisions," Rodriguez said.
For his part, Revil stressed that the CORE Movement would promote constitutional reforms as an urgent public concern that needs to be approved by Congress and submitted to a plebiscite before the 2022 national and local elections.
"We believe that endemic social ills like corruption and the massive poverty in our regions are due to the strong legal and economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution that preserve the control over the electoral system by corrupt politicians and their cooperation with greedy oligarchs who control our economy with their control of our politicians and the justice system," Revil said.
Revil said that to preserve the mandate of voters during elections, Congress should also approve the ban on turncoatism or the switching of political party membership of elected officials after every election.
"The practice of turncoatism has kept the political largesse system permanent and established corruption as source of strengthening political power in our country," Revil noted.
He said the CORE Movement would seek lobbying Congress and pass electoral reforms that will prohibit political dynasties and impose stricter rules on political parties by requiring them to ensure they have membership among ordinary voters.
Revil said the CORE Movement would also campaign for the amendment of the Constitution's economic provisions so that more capital for new industries could be sourced by opening specific trades currently limited by the 1987 Constitution to Filipino investments to foreign investments.
"We deserve freedom from oligarchs who keep control of our national and regional economies through limited investments in our industries," Revil said.
"We need more capital and innovation to create more jobs and boost our economy, especially in the regions where most poor Filipinos live," he added.