BATASAN PLENARY HALL / PHOTO FROM THE INQUIRER'S FILE

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives would follow the direction set by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. regarding proposals to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, house leaders said Monday.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said during a press conference on Monday that negotiations on constitutional amendments are clearer now since Marcos himself spoke on the issue.

Salceda was referring to Marcos' statements at the Constitution Day celebration in Makati last Friday, where the Chief Executive stated that he only wants changes to the economic provisions.

“Follow the president. You can count on its full usage now. The Chamber will follow the president, period. So let there be no other ambiguity about this, about the direction of the House, about what the House will do. We will follow the president in his last speech,” said Salceda.

Salceda also took note of the President's decision to initially avoid discussions on amending the 1987 Constitution, as it could affect his call for unity – as the said Constitution was created after the Edsa People's Power revolution that deposed its father, former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

However, the fact that the younger Marcos chose to support the amendments, despite the risks of being criticized for doing so, shows how urgent the issue is.

“The President's main government theme is unity, which is why he is very careful with public perception and everything that has to do with Edsa '86, especially its articulation with the Constitution. He is careful not to be seen as someone who dismantles the 1987 Constitution, just as he has been careful with all other aspects of the 86 Revolution,” said Salceda.

“Sabi ko nga, mas dilawan pa 'to kay PNoy (Like I said, Marcos is more 'dilawan' than former president Noynoy Aquino). Therefore, the fact that the President came out in favor of changing the Charter, despite his usual reservations on such matters, clearly shows that he sees this as urgent,” he added.

Senior Vice President Aurelio Gonzales also echoed Salceda's statements, saying that none other than President Ferdinand Martin Romualdez would heed the President's call for constructive debates to take control in negotiations on constitutional amendments.

“All I can say is that the President speaks very loudly and clearly (about his desire to change the economic provisions of the Constitution). We will follow the president. The President will be followed by the President (Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez). And all of us, members here in the House of Representatives (will follow the president),” said Gonzales.

“That's the discussion. This is what the President says is a healthy democratic discussion of our (constitutional) economic provisions. Now that the hearing is in the Senate, I hope that what we are talking about lives up to our dream of changing the Charter in economic provisions,” said Gonzales.

(This is the discussion. This is what the President has said, a healthy democratic discussion on constitutional economic provisions. Right now the Senate is hearing proposals, we hope they coincide with our dream of a change of status on economic provisions. )

Meanwhile, Vice President David Suarez said the legislature must now act to ensure the country achieves middle-income status by 2025, as Marcos said in his speech.

“When the president has given a date and a clear goal, it is up to the Legislative Branch to cooperate and ensure that this objective is met,” said Suarez, saying that the ideal time for the Senate to approve any measure amending the Constitution will be in the coming months.

“This way we can guarantee that by 2025, what the President wants will be achieved by our country (so that we can guarantee that by 2025, what the President wants will be achieved by the country)”, he added.

The House and Senate have been at loggerheads recently over discussions about amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Last December, President Romualdez and Gonzales raised the possibility of hearing again proposals to amend the Charter to open up restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution .

However, Gonzales said they may consider changes to the statute through the Popular Initiative (PI) as Resolution No. 6 of Both Chambers (RBH) has not been put into effect by the Senate.

But after the PI gained strength, the Senate accused the Chamber of being behind the campaign, even claiming that the PI intends to abolish the Senate, introducing joint voting in the decision on proposed constitutional changes.

House leaders, including Romualdez, have denied being behind the PI, saying repeatedly that they do not intend to abolish the Senate. Instead, legislators reiterated that they were convening a constituent assembly through RBH No. 6.


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Ultimately, the Senate introduced its own version of RBH No. 6, which lawmakers hoped would end the dispute between the two chambers. However, tensions continued when the Chamber adopted, on February 5th, a resolution defending President Romualdez from the Senate's alleged “intense attacks”.



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