Sen. Robin Padilla has appealed to members of the House of Representatives to consider amending the Constitution’s economic provisions through a constituent assembly (Con-ass).
In an interview on dzBB Sunday, Padilla said the House’s preference to amend the Constitution through a constitutional convention (Con-con) may take years and need billions of pesos to accomplish.
“I have humbled myself and gone to the Lower House and paid them my due respects. I have discussed this with them. And if need be, I will do it again,” said Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
He said amending the Charter through Con-con will cost at least P11 billion.
Padilla said Con-ass is still the most practical way to amend the economic provisions of the Charter, so the proposed changes can be brought to the public via a plebiscite timed with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan election in October.
“We need to move fast. If the economic amendments are approved in October, they can take effect immediately and Congress can pass new measures to open our economy to investments,” he said.
“If we were not having a difficult time economically, I would have preferred a Con-con. But now that we are living on borrowings, we must prioritize the economic provisions,” he added.
Padilla also sought to abolish the party-list system if the time comes to amend the Charter’s political provisions through a Con-ass.
“If we reach a constitutional convention, the party-list system should be the first to go. It has lost its relevance as wealthy people are allowed to become party list representatives,” he said.
“It has become funny that we have wealthy people voted as party-list representatives to represent the marginalized,” he added.
Padilla likewise pushed for the strengthening of the party system so people would vote for candidates based on their party advocacy, instead of based on popularity or wealth.
“If we want to reform politics in the Philippines, we should strengthen our party system. We should end the cycle of voting for candidates on the basis of popularity or wealth. Instead, we can vote on the basis of advocacies and positions,” he said.
Meanwhile, 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan on Sunday urged the government’s budget and economic planners to perform a “cost-benefit analysis” of amending the 1987 Constitution for the purpose of relaxing foreign investment restrictions.
“If we really want to tweak the economic provisions of the Constitution to draw in more foreign investors, then we would need a baseline comparison of cost and benefit,” he said.
“This is the most sensible approach -– for us to ascertain whether the benefits outweigh the costs,” he added.
He called on the National Economic and Development Authority to submit to Congress a detailed report on the projected benefits in terms of foreign direct investments that would come in per industry, the number of new jobs that would be created, and the incremental tax revenues that would be generated.
On the cost side, he urged the Department of Budget and Management to come up with reliable estimates.