The Inter-Agency Task Force Constitutional Reform (Task Force CORE) welcomes the approval by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments of some Charter-change proposals like lifting the restrictive economic provisions but is asking the House to also approve political and electoral reforms as well as provisions to ensure regional development.
“We congratulate the House panel led by Chairman Rufus Rodriguez for taking this bold step and for responding to the President's call for Constitutional reform,” said DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, executive director of Task Force CORE.
Nonetheless, Malaya urged the House panel to also approve the other proposals of the Task Force which are part of a package of reforms they submitted to the panel in two public hearings held in Quezon City and Iloilo City. These political and electoral reforms include strengthening of political parties as public institutions, anti-turncoatism provisions, making the anti-political dynasty provisions as self-executing, and campaign finance reform through the creation of a democracy fund to be run by COMELEC.
“While we fully support the proposal to increase the terms of our politicians to 5 years with 1 reelection, this must come with political reforms otherwise we continue to perpetuate our weak political party system that is prone to abuse and elite capture. We urgently need to shift from elections based on personalities to one based on political parties with distinctive policies and programs and this is a concrete way to make that happen,” he said.
“We hope that Congress can adopt this difficult but necessary political reforms that we have been waiting for in a very long time. We now have this opportunity to implement long-lasting reforms that will have a profound impact on the life of our nation. We must not let this opportunity pass,” he added.
Task Force CORE also submitted proposed "equality provisions" increasing the Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs as provided in the Mandanas ruling and a provision to empower the regions by transforming the Regional Development Council to Regional Development Authority that would have funding and full powers to decide which development projects would be approved and implemented.
“These proposals respond to the clamor of the provinces for more resources and authority to allow them to catch up with the economy of the richest regions in Luzon led by Metro Manila. These are the equality provisions for the benefit of the rural areas so that they may partake of the economic development of the country,” said Malaya.
He said that the DILG has brought these proposals to some 60 provinces across the country through the Balangayan roadshows and it has received widespread support.
The DILG has so far secured the support of 256 local chief executives and hundreds more local officials for these reforms. They were also able to gather some 22,469 signatures so far from various citizens, barangay officials, SK members, non-government organizations, among others, who pledged their continuous support to push for "equality provisions" in the charter.
“The pledge of support from the various mayors, governors, and barangay captains, as well as the signatures gathered in the roadshows, will be submitted to both the Senate and the House of Representatives in January next year. By then we should have more and more signatures,” said Malaya.
He said that after conducting public consultations in 60 provinces and 21 more provinces by January of next year, the DILG is confident that there is a general consensus in favor of introducing amendments to the constitution and holding a plebiscite before the term of the President ends.
“Through our CORE roadshows tagged as Balangayan, we will continue to do consultations in all provinces in the country, hear their voices and discuss the merits of CORE to the lives of every Filipino. More and more LGUs are formalizing their support for our reforms when they are briefed about the CORE agenda,” said Malaya.
Task Force CORE was established by the President under MC 52 and is chaired by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as Vice-Chair. It is composed of some 15 government agencies.