[OPINION] MAP statement on Charter change

January 23, 2018 at 12:00

MAP statement on Charter change

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is considered as one of the premiere business organizations in the Philippines. It has more than a thousand members composed of business owners, CEOs, COOs, business professionals, management partners and senior executives of major business entities. It represents a major force in the Philippine business community; and, it has taken public stands on major national issues affecting Philippine society.

Recently, it received a letter from Senator Francis Pangilinan, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, requesting MAP’s stand on the proposed Charter change  expressed in five questions. After discussions in the national issues committee and  with other MAP members; and, upon approval of its board, here are MAP’s answers to the five questions.

  1. Is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution? Why or why not? “Yes, there is a need to change our current 1987 Constitution. We need to change the economic provisions because they have proven to become a hindrance in the country’s growth and international commitment to trade and commerce. We believe that changing the economic provisions  will lead to fair play, business growth, more investments and employment.”
  2. If so, what parts of the Constitution should be amended or revised? Why? “From our perspective as businessmen, Constitutional changes should be made on the various provisions on foreign economic restrictions such as lifting of the 60/40 rule and other business ownership percentages, lifting the provisions on franchises and public utilities, lifting the Filipino first or preference provisions, and then empowering Congress to just pass laws from time to time on these business issues as when they become of national significance.

    If changes involve anything beyond the economic provisions that will allow foreign investments in certain sectors, there should be extensive deliberations and open public discussions.”

  3. Should the amendments or revisions be proposed by a Constitutional Convention or by the Congress itself acting as a constituent assembly? Why? “We in the MAP believe that in amending the Constitution, the most effective mode is through a constituent assembly. The 1987 Constitution allows the Congress to propose amendments or revisions by a vote of three-fourths of all its members. The Congress acting as a constituent assembly will prove to be more cost-effective than a constitutional convention. In drafting the amendments, the constituent assembly should be guided by a constitutional commission composed of representatives from different sectors.”

    The following are reasons why a constituent assembly is the preferred mode for amending the Constitution.

    • The Congress has the necessary experience, intellectual capacity, resources and available time to do it.
    • It would conserve financial and material resources.
    • It can focus attention specifically on required amendments.
    • It can finish the work quickly.
    • In addition, the constitutional convention may be criticized for the following reasons.
    • The convention delegates may not have enough expertise and experience for the work.
    • It would be expensive.
    • There is the danger of an uncontrolled body that may revise the whole constitution, and
    • The whole process may take too long to  complete.
  4. If Congress convenes as a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending or revising the Constitution, should the Senate and the House of Representative vote jointly or separately? “We believe that the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended that the two – the House of Representatives and the Senate – should vote separately and independently, NOT jointly.

  5. Can Congress pass a resolution limiting the power of the constituent assembly orconstitutional convention, or are their powers plenary? We believe that the current Congress can limit the powers that will be given to the constituent assembly when it changes our Constitution. It cannot be a runaway Congress.

Joint statement of Philippine Business Group

There is also a joint statement of the Philippine Business Group on the Proposed Amendments to the Philippine Constitution. This group is composed of the major business organizations in the country.

The statement begins by saying: “The Philippine Business Group recognizes the need to amend certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines to make it more adaptable and responsive to current social and economic realities.We believe this is a necessary action in helping us to realize the aspirations of a more inclusive and sustainable growth.”

The joint statement focuses on the following three items:

  1. The amendments should be focused only on certain economic provisions. The joint statement expresses strong support for the resolution of both Houses proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution particularly to Articles XII, XIV, and XVI, principally authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.. which seeks to include the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in some sections of Articles XII (national economy and patrimony), XIV(education, science and technology, arts culture and sports) and XVI (general provisions.)
  2. The Business Group deems it more democratic for the two houses – Senate and House of Representatives – to vote separately so as to recognize the authority of the Senate body and to avoid diluting the voice of the Senators in this critical process.
  3. In connection with the possibility of shifting to another form of government, the Business Group believes a duly elected Constitutional Convention is the appropriate body to amend the Constitution. While such mode would entail greater costs to implement and probably more time, it should be seen as a justifiable investment that will result to significant social returns in the long run.

These two statements – MAP and the Joint Business Group – express the opinions of the majority of the business sector in the Philippines. Hopefully, these views will be taken seriously by our political leadership since the business sector is still the primary engine of economic growth and employment in this country. Perhaps, these views can also serve as a guide or reference to the rest of the Filipino as it tries to decide its own personal views on the proposed Charter changes to the Philippine Constitution.

Source: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/01/21/1779869/map-statement-charter-change

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