MANILA (Bloomberg): The Philippines’ House of Representatives has approved the creation of a body to propose amendments to the Constitution, a major step towards changing the 36-year-old charter early into Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s presidency.
The resolution was adopted less than two weeks after it was introduced to the entire lower legislative chamber. A total of 301 out of 314 lawmakers voted on Monday (March 6) to call a constitutional convention whose members will propose changes to the nation’s highest law that’s been in effect since 1987. The measure will now move to the Senate, where it has faced early opposition.
The House proposal plans to tweak the constitution’s economic provisions to boost the country’s global competitiveness, although it does not limit the amendments that can be introduced. Some lawmakers have raised concerns that the move will pave the way towards extending Marcos’s six-year term, although the president has said changing the charter isn’t his priority.
Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, one of the authors of the resolution, who called the approval a "historic act,” said the constitutional convention will "propose amendments to or revision of the 1987 Constitution” that will uplift Filipinos’ lives.
Arlene Brosas, one of six lawmakers who voted against the adoption, warned about the dangers of charter changes through a constitutional convention, saying Marcos Jr’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos used it "to produce a new Constitution to justify his unlimited stay in power.” Under the elder Marcos’s military rule in 1973, a charter crafted by a convention formed two years earlier was approved despite widespread controversy.
Under Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, the House approved a similar measure in 2018 to amend the Constitution, with lawmakers seeking to introduce changes, but the efforts didn’t prosper in the Senate.