Manila Bulletin - House official bats for synchronized Chacha plesbiscite, presidential elections in 2022

News & Interviews
4 February 2021

By Ben Rosario | Manila Bulletin

One of the principal proponents of the Charter change bid in the House of Representatives aired the possibility of synchronizing the plebiscite for the proposed amendments with the national elections to be held in May, 2022.

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin said this “ideal” situation will happen if tet Senate will adopt Resolution of Both Houses 02 by February, 2022.

Garbin entertained the optimism that the Lower House will register the required 3/4 votes within the month, although the chamber is capable of disposing of the measure much earlier considering that its principal author is Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

RBH 02 will be transmitted to the Senate as soon as the Lower Chamber has adopted it with a vote of 3/4 of all members of the legislative body.

“If there’s no difference between the House and the Senate versions then Congress by law will schedule a plebiscite not earlier than 60 days from its approval nor later than 90 days from its approval,” said Garbin, chairman fo the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments..

He explained that if plebiscite is to be held simultaneously with the 2022 presidential elections, then the right timing for a Senate adoption of the measure is February that year.

The Lower House is expected to launch plenary deliberation on the measure anytime next week.

On Tuesday, February 2, the constitutional amendments panel registered 63 affirmative and three negative votes to adopt the resolution that seeks to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to help the Philippine economy recover from COVID-19.

Under the measure the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” will be inserted to specific provisions of the Constitution that will be amended.

The phrase will be inserted in five amendments to Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), one amendment to Article XIV (Education, Science, and Technology), and one amendment to Article XVI (General Provisions).

However, the committee excluded from the resolution the proposed amendment to Section 7 of Article XII referring to the ban on foreign ownership of land.

Quezon City Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay explained that the constitution contains flexible provisions which were “intentionally made by the framers so that it may be amended in order to conform with the changing times. “

However, he stressed that there are also “bedrock provisions” which were likewise intentionally introduced in order to provide permanence in certain provisions, such as those contained in Section 2 Article XII which include all lands of public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other minerals.

The charter also states that “with the exception of agricultural lands, all natural resources shall not be alienated and that “the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the control and supervision of the state.”

“I believe the three mentioned above are bedrock provisions and should not be amended by Congress by adding a qualifier “unless otherwise provided by law,” stressed Suntay, vice chairman of the House panel.