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Salceda calls for constituent assembly

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda filed Tuesday last week (Feb. 18) a resolution calling on the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene into a constituent assembly and consider amendments in the political, economic, and social provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In a resolution of both Houses of Congress No. 5, Salceda said the House and the Senate should consider the list of proposed constitutional reforms submitted by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reforms led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) when it convenes the constituent assembly.

DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya welcomed Salceda’s resolution as it is expected to speed up the process especially with the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez voting this morning (Feb. 19) on the individual proposed amendments.

“We salute Rep. Salceda for his resolution and the many other congressmen who have championed the necessary amendments to our charter,” said Malaya.

“Issues and challenges to the political, economic, and social landscape of the country in recent years have shown that the 1987 Constitution, with its 32 years of existence, is no longer responsive to the exigencies of the time,” Salceda pointed out.

He noted that “there has been a serious imbalance in economic growth and development across the regions of the country for decades inasmuch as there has been an overconcentration of powers and resources in the national government to the detriment of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and their constituencies, which can altogether be resolved by amending or revising the current framework of governance under the 1987 Constitution.”

Specifically, Salceda proposed that the constituent assembly consider the following amendments:

a. A ban on political dynasties to even out the political opportunities for all Filipinos;

b. A constitutional imprimatur for a stronger political party system that requires all political parties to have mass-based membership, accountability, and transparency in all its activities, including campaign finance reforms and the establishment of a Democracy Fund where poor political parties can source campaign spending;

c. Restructuring the terms of office of members of the House of Representatives and LGU officials from the current three years with two re-elections to five years with only one re-election;

d. Election of President and Vice-President in tandem so no President and Vice-President will come from opposing political parties;

e. Instituting the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution to permanently set a higher share for local government units (LGUs) of the taxes collected by the national government as a means of empowering the regions;

f. Creating an empowered Regional Development Council with the power to plan, allocate funds and monitor the implementation of development projects in regions;

g. Allocating five percent of the share of LGUs from the national tax revenues to the empowered RDCs which it can allocate to development projects;

h. Lifting the restriction on foreign investments in public utilities and other vital services that exploit natural resources for the benefit of communities;

i. Giving to Congress the power to decide through the enactment of a law on the recommendation of the government’s economic planning agency to remove the restriction on foreign investments in industries currently limited to Filipinos or to companies owned 60 percent by Filipinos only; and

j. Authorizing Congress to remove the restrictions on foreign investments in educational institutions and in mass media and advertising industries.

The IATF supports the call for the House and the Senate to convene as a constituent assembly within the year so they could debate and submit proposed constitutional amendments to a plebiscite before the 2022 national elections.

Malaya said the IATF is pushing for constitutional amendments in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s agenda of implementing key constitutional reforms that could solve the country’s endemic problems like imbalance in regional development and low foreign investment compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors. (DILG news)

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