STATEMENT OF AKBAYAN SENATOR RISA HONTIVEROS ON THE PROPOSAL TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION THROUGH A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

We should never be afraid of change. I have always believed that the Constitution is a living and evolving document, and while it should serve as the bedrock of our most cherished values like human rights and democracy, it should also reflect the aspirations and needs of our people, which are ever changing. The Filipino people should be the architects of their destiny, and for this reason, the highest law of the land should not be in a state of antiquated stasis.

Ngunit ang paraan ng pag-aamyenda ng Saligang Batas ay hindi pwedeng gawing basta basta. While the Constitution cannot be static, neither can it be used as a tool to serve the interests of political elite or as a means to the narrow ends of those who want to perpetuate themselves in power.

Kaya po ay mariin ang aking pagtutol sa paraan ng pag-amyenda ng Saligang Batas na Con Ass o Constituent Assembly. This is a position my party Akbayan has taken even before, when previous Presidents have attempted to change the Constitution via this route. Hindi po maaring mga politiko na makikinabang sa Charter Change ang uupo bilang delegado. Right now, the promise of term extension is being dangled as carrots to legislators. Mahirap nga naman tanggihan. How can we trust legislators to be objective? How can we be sure that a sober perusal and assessment of the provisions of the Constitution will be undertaken with the No-El elephant in the room?

I have my doubts on the capacity of this administration to carry out an inclusive, democratic process for Charter Change. Ngayon pa lang, we are force-fed their brand of federalism that raises a lot of problematic issues, and do not seem to value people-led and participatory fiscal processes. My party Akbayan supports federalism, but with specific features that ensure the creation of wide democratic spaces and promote human development. Hindi ako tiyak na ang inihahain na panukala para sa pederalismo ng administrasyong Duterte ay magdadala nito.

In sum, I assert that the question of "why amend" must always attend the question of "how to amend". In this case, it is very clear that the agenda of amendment is to facilitate the transition to PDP-Laban's brand of federalism, which will impact greatly on term limits and the composition of the legislature, including the present legislature. For these reasons, a constitutional convention (concon) is our best step forward.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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