Some lawmakers on Saturday said the public will likely reject a revised Constitution because it only favors politicians.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque and Sen. Risa Hontiveros said changing the Charter is not a priority among Filipinos.
“Constitutional change is not what the public demands. What our people need is food, education and health care. They don’t want federalism because they cannot even understand why do we need to add another layer to our bureaucracy to address their pressing concerns,” Roque said in a radio interview.
He was referring plans to amend the Constitution through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss)—a body composed of lawmakers.
Under the planned federal government, the Philippines will have 11 independent states (regions) — the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog Region, Northern Luzon Region, Bicol Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Easten Samar, Western Samar, Eastern Mindanao, Western Mindanao and Bangsamoro.
Each region will have the authority to craft its laws and manage its resources but it will still have to split its income with 25 percent going to the national government and 75 percent for the perusal of the concerned region since the national government will retain its full jurisdiction on foreign affairs, national defense, policing and the monetary policy.
“We all know that in a Con-Ass, changing the Constitution will be left to politicians. They would just use government resources to convince the people to agree to their proposal.
That is undemocratic, and just proves that only politicians want federalism,” Roque said.
“It is hard to understand as to how federalism will address poverty and the spate of crimes when the poorer regions will still have to be subsidized by the wealthier ones,” he added.
Hontiveros shared Roque’s sentiments.
“The plan of the House of Representatives to push for a constituent assembly (ConAss) rather than a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) to amend the country’s charter goes against the interest of democracy and active citizenship, especially with a House where the heavy hand of the Executive was so plain to see,” she said.
The government has said ConAss is more economical, considering that the election of ConCon delegates alone would cost P6 billion to P7 billion.
Hontiveros, however urged the government to break up political dynasties, dismantle private armies and build financial sustainability before pursuing federalism.
“We cannot set aside democratic processes and dismiss people participation simply because the fiscal cost of such democratic endeavors are allegedly expensive. This is a dangerous thought,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“This assumes that democracy is a luxury rather than a right that developing countries like ours cannot fully enjoy; assumes that democracy has a price tag and that it can only be enjoyed by the people, subject to the availability of funds,” she added.
“There should be no shortcuts in democracy. The political and economic ambitions of a few cannot lord over the people’s interests.”