CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM IN THE PHILIPPINES, also known as CHARTER CHANGE or CHA-CHA, refers to the political and legal processes needed to amend the current 1987 Constitution of the Philippines . Under the common interpretation of the Constitution, amendments can be proposed by one of three methods: a People\'s Initiative , a Constituent Assembly or a Constitutional Convention . A fourth method, by both houses passing a joint concurrent resolution , with a three-fourth supermajority , has been proposed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. who subsequently submitted to the House of Representatives "Resolution of Both Houses No. 1". The "simple legislation as the means to amend" would require approval only by both Houses voting separately.
All proposed amendments, regardless of the method of proposal, must be ratified by a majority vote in a national referendum .
There have been five constitutional conventions in Philippine history:
While no amendment to the 1987 Constitution has succeeded, there has been several high-profile attempts. None reached the ratification by referendum stage.
* 1 Ramos administration * 2 Estrada administration
* 3 Arroyo administration
* 3.1 Sigaw ng Bayan\'s Initiative * 3.2 Constituent Assembly under De Venecia * 3.3 Constituent Assembly under Nograles-Pimentel
* 4 Aquino III administration
* 4.1 Belmonte\'s joint resolution on economic provisions
* 5 Duterte administration
* 6 References
* 6.1 Bibliography
* 7 External links
The first attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution was under President Fidel Ramos . Among the proposed changes in the constitution included a shift to a parliamentary system and the lifting of term limits of public officials. Ramos argued that the changes will bring more accountability, continuity, and responsibility to the "gridlock"-prone Philippine version of presidential bicameral system. Some politically active religious groups, opposition politicians, business tycoons and left-wing organizations opposed the process that was supposed to lead to a national referendum. Critics argued that the proposed constitutional changes for one would benefit the incumbent, Ramos. On September 21, 1997, a church-organized rally brought in an estimated half a million people to Rizal Park .
Furthermore, on September 23, 1997, the advocates suffered a setback when the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Andres Narvasa , narrowly dismissed a petition filed by the People's Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA), which sought to amend the Constitution through a signature campaign or People's Initiative. The Supreme Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the People's Initiative mode does not have enough enabling law for the proposed revisions or amendments in the 1987 constitution. Had the petition been successful, a national plebiscite would have been held for proposed changes.
There were, once again, objections from opposition politicians, religious sects and left-wing organizations based on diverse arguments such as national patrimony and the proposed constitutional changes would be self-serving. Again, the government was accused of pushing constitutional reform for its own vested interests.
SIGAW NG BAYAN\'S INITIATIVE
The political process that would carry on the proposed amendments recommended by the Consultative Commission was campaigned by the Sigaw ng Bayan group (Cry of the People) and ULAP in 2005-2006. Sigaw ng Bayan was headed by Atty. Raul Lambino, a former member of the Consultative Commission. The aim of Sigaw ng Bayan group was to gather enough signatures to call for a plebiscite on the proposed constitutional changes by a People's Initiative.
Once again some organizations, politicians, religious sects, business tycoons and political groups, such as One Voice , were opposed for various reasons and beliefs, claiming untimeliness of the proposed amendments/revisions and the allegation that the incumbent president and her allies would directly benefit from the proposed changes. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), an organization labeled by the United States as terrorist, denounced the cha-cha process as "anti-masses" and called on their paramilitary group, the New People\'s Army , and their left-wing supporters to campaign against reform and intensify the destruction of what they viewed as a feudal, fascist Philippine regime backed by the imperialist United States.
On October 25, 2006, the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban , by a vote of 8-7, narrowly rejected Sigaw ng Bayan's Initiative on two grounds:
* The initiative failed to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution for conducting a people's initiative. * The initiative proposed revisions and not amendments. Under the 1987 Constitution, a people's initiative cannot introduce constitutional revisions but only amendments. The Court held that changing the form of government, from presidential to parliamentary, or abolishing a house of Congress, like the Senate, are revisions, which cannot be done by a people's initiative.
The insufficient enabling law of the 1997 Supreme Court decision, however, was overturned by the same Supreme Court in the motion for reconsideration by Sigaw ng Bayan, with the Supreme Court announcing in November 2006 that there is an adequate enabling law for the People's Initiative mode to propose amendments to the Constitution.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY UNDER DE VENECIA
Main article: Constituent Assembly (Philippines)
In December 2006, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. attempted to push for the constitutional change process by convening the House of Representatives of the Philippines and the Senate of the Philippines into a Constituent Assembly , or "con-ass ," one of the three modes by which the 1987 Constitution could be amended.
Once again, the anti-terrorist change forces threatened massive
protests on the political process that could lead to a plebiscite on
the constitutional reform issue. Former
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY UNDER NOGRALES-PIMENTEL
Main article: Federalism in the Philippines
Monico O. Puentevella on May 7, 2008, filed House Concurrent Resolution No. 15, which supported Senate Resolution No. 10 backed by 16 senators . Unlike the Nene Pimentel Senate Resolution, Puentevella included the option of holding a constitutional convention but excluded a People's Initiative. Prospero Nograles , a self-proclaimed advocate of federalism , announced on May 1, 2008: "This federal system of government is close to my heart as a Mindanaoan leader and I'm sure most of the leaders in Mindanao will agree that we have long clamored for it. Senate Resolution 10 is a pleasant surprise because the Senate has a long history of opposing any move to amend the Constitution." The joint Senate resolution called for the creation of 11 federal states in the country by convening of Congress "into a constituent assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a federal system of government."
Arroyo stated to visiting Swiss
Meanwhile, Representative Victor Ortega of
AQUINO III ADMINISTRATION
BELMONTE\'S JOINT RESOLUTION ON ECONOMIC PROVISIONS
Speaker of the House, Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. , filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, pushing for economic liberalization. The resolution would add five words to seven economic provisions in the Constitution: "unless otherwise provided by law." The seven provisions are Section 2, Art. XII on exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources; Section 3, Art. XII on alienable lands on the public domain; Section 7, Art. XII on conveyance of private lands; Section 10, Art. XII on reserved investments; Section 11, Art. XII on grant of franchises, certificates, or any other forms of authorization for the operation of public entity; Section 4 (2), Art. XIV on ownership of educational institutions; and Section 11 (1 and 2), Art. XVI on ownership and management of mass media and on the policy for engagement in the advertising industry. Supporting economic liberalism are major business groups like the Foundation for Economic Freedom, Arangkada Philippines, and the Makati Business Club. Governmental agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry also are calling for economic liberalization. The resolution ma