It seems that the tide against Gloria Arroyo's version of Charter Change is beginning to grow. The latest sector to join our STOP CHA CHA campaign is business. Apart from the Makati Business Club (staunchly anti Gloria's Charter Change), the Management Association of the Philippines has come out with its statement on the matter. We reprint both for your study and comments:
MAP STATEMENT ON CHARTER CHANGE
The MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP) supports the complete review of the 1987 Constitution. However, being the fundamental law of the land, any proposed changes to it call for a careful, intelligent, deliberate and credible process.
The MAP, an association of business professionals and executives, believes that People’s Initiative as enshrined in the Constitution must be used in the right manner for the right purpose. As its name implies, such move must originate from the grassroots not from above. Such right given to the people assumes that the constituents are given the opportunity to study and understand the issues, enabling them to make informed choices.
There is no reason to short-cut proper procedures to get the Constitution amended by July 15, 2006 as some politicians have targeted. There is nothing sacred about this date that will justify the hurried manner by which the so-called People’s Initiative is being pushed. Such rush just raises questions about the motivations of the people who espouse this method.
Therefore, let us do what is right for the country by reviewing the Constitution completely. In particular, economic reforms are most important in stimulating growth and so with social and other provisions that must be studied and amended to achieve the stated objective of solving the poverty problem. Hence, let us take this precious opportunity to prioritize the interests of the Filipino people, even if self-sacrifice is called for. The People’s Initiative that is being advocated now is not the means to revise the Constitution.
The MAP thus recommends the establishment of conditions precedent before a serious attempt is made to change the Constitution:
1. A careful and objective study of the present Constitution must be made and the provisions that deter growth must be identified for possible amendment. The selection process to name the framers of the Constitution must assure the electorate that competent and patriotic delegates will emerge from the process.
2. Our people must be informed, educated and enlightened so they can intelligently participate in debates and discussions to achieve acceptance of the process and its outcome.
3. The constitutional changes must not redound to the benefit of the incumbents, particularly those who are involved in the preparation and approval of these revisions. This prohibition should also cover the transitory provisions.
4. The process to change the charter must be fully compliant with the provisions of the present Constitution.
5. The credibility and integrity of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) must be restored.
The MAP wishes to insure that charter change will create a Constitution that will be a strong and permanent foundation for peace, justice, development and solidarity of our country. The MAP, together with other professional and business associations, calls its members to action to do their part to achieve this task.
May God bless us and our country.
MBC CAUTIONS AGAINST UNDUE HASTE FOR CHA-CHA
The Makati Business Club cautions against the haste and haphazard manner in which the government is pushing for Constitutional amendments. Such a fast-track process, without benefit of enlightened public discussion and debate on the merits of a Constitutional amendment, may have negative effects on the economy. Even the Consultative Commission did not arrive at a consensus and some of the provisions in its report, notably the cancellation of the 2007 elections, were met with public criticism and resistance. A significant number of Commissioners voted against the "no election" provision, while a minority issued dissenting reports against other provisions.
Ironically, while the government originally focused on the economic provisions of the Constitution as a means of promoting economic growth, the current proposal does not even touch on the economy and is exclusively focused on the political provisions of shifting from a presidential to parliamentary system, a resetting of elections, and transitory provisions on political matters. Under these conditions, it is difficult to see how the economy and the people will benefit when no economic provisions are even being discussed.
The current attempt to not only amend but revise the Constitution by people’s initiative has no basis under the Constitution. Article XVII, Sec. 2 clearly and unequivocally states: "The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right." Therefore, without an enabling law passed by Congress, the people cannot exercise "this right," meaning the right to amend the Constitution by people’s initiative. In 1997, the Supreme Court in the case of Santiago vs. Comelec held the Initiative and Referendum Act (R.A 6735) invalid. At the same time, the Supreme Court permanently enjoined the Commission on Elections from entertaining any such petition until a sufficient law has been enacted.
The amendment of the Constitution is a very serious matter, a wholesale change can only be undertaken either through a Constituent Assembly or a Constitutional Commission (Sec. 1, Art. XVII). A change from a Presidential to a Parliamentary form of government involves a major ideological shift from a system of checks and balances between three departments of government to the fusion of the executive and legislative powers in one entity. Surely, a paradigmatic shift of this magnitude cannot be considered a minor amendment. This requires more careful study and public discussion to determine what is in the best interest of the nation economically, socially, and politically. The fact that an amendment is now being rushed with only political provisions in mind does not augur well for the country. If such major decisions are carried out with undue haste, we feel that such rushed decisions will have negative repercussions for the country and its economy.