On January 25, President Rodrigo Duterte finally named 19 out of the 25 members of the Charter Change Consultative Committee on amending the 1987 constitution, after several months of the committee’s establishment.
We, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of NGOs, religious/church-based organizations, and people’s organization, welcomes this new development. Finally, and soon we will stop groping in the dark; there will be concrete and real proposals for charter change that we can discuss and reflect on. This is also positive as it gives us a glimpse of the character of the group that was given the huge responsibility to re-write our current constitution, fashioned to strengthen democracy and social justice, and prevent a dictatorship to ever happen again.
The changing of the new constitution is touted and being framed by the current government as a way to usher the development that the 1987 constitution allegedly failed to effect.
While we believe that there are sections in the current constitution that needed updating, we do not agree in fast-tracking the process of changing the constitution within 6 months as per instruction from the President. We are deeply concerned of its effects as failures and instability in governance from the past continue to plague our nation.
The constitution is the heart of any government and of any institution for that matter. It is the fundamental law that governs and prescribes the life of a people. Thus, there should be a recognition that changing the constitution would require that every citizens’ concerns, every epoch’s milestone, and every historical experiences are considered and studied thoroughly.
Every Filipino needs to know the following:
- What is the current national situation that warrants a change in the constitution?
- Is the current political condition a good environment to carry out this process?
- Is constitutional change the ONLY way to address the identified current national situation? Have we exhausted all options that will bring the same change we want?
- Is 6 months enough to disseminate information, carryout conversations, and install mechanisms that will ensure that transparency and accountability in the process of constitutional change?
- Is the Constitutional Assembly the best form to change the current constitution? Is the composition of the current congress carry the aspirations of the majority of people?
- How is the common Filipino being engaged and informed on the change issues that will affect his/her future?
Discernment and conversation should be encouraged for every Filipino to understand the context of the proposed processes, thereby owning it.
We call on the government not to take the charter change process in haste. We urge the government to involve various stakeholders from different sectors of society in crafting the needed change in the constitution and take part in policy making.
The participation of various sectors will ensure that these changes in the constitution meet expectations for equal rights, effective delivery of resources, protection of lands and indigenous territories, provision of social services, stop political dynasty and corruption with respect to the rule of law.
We reject the Constitutional Assembly as a way to change the constitution. We do not trust that the current lower house will represent the genuine voice of the people by the way they have repeatedly conducted themselves in addressing social issues since the assumption to power of President Duterte.
We say NO TO CHARTER CHANGE IN HASTE. We say NO TO CON-ASS.