Press Release
September 13, 2008

Gordon to hold regional consultations on Charter change

Senator Richard J. Gordon today said he will bring public consultations on proposals to revise the 1987 Constitution down to the regional and provincial level, saying that any discussion on Constitutional Change should involve the greatest number of people and the widest array of sectors.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate constitutional amendments committee, said he would like to validate mounting calls from some sectors to replace the presidential, bicameral to parliamentary or federal, unicameral system of government.

"If we amend or revise the Constitution, it should come from the people. This is so that the people will have a real sense of owning the fundamental law of the land and not feel left out or that something has dictated upon them. It is vitally important that everybody's voice is heard and no one is excluded from these discussions," he said.

Earlier this week, senators led by Gordon sat down with members of the academe and representatives of various non-government organizations at a hearing held on a proposal to shift to a federal form of government.

In the hearing, Gordon stressed that the people must be thoroughly informed and educated regarding the repercussions of opening up the Constitution for amendments, particularly on certain provisions need to be rectified, including term limits of president and other incumbent officials, among others.

"People are naturally fearful of what they don't understand and putting in changes in our Constitution will have far-reaching effects on the lives of millions of Filipinos. We have to discuss, first, if amendments are indeed desired and how do go about the process of amending the Constitution? What items do we want to change? Do our regions and provinces want to become a state? These are just some of the questions our leaders and our people have to decide on," said Gordon.

He further explained that leaders in local government as well as people's organizations and even individuals would be welcome to join in the regional consultations.

"Beyond talking about Cha-Cha, we will also be interested in learning of other problems that our people may have that stem from limitations in the Constitutions. We look forward to starting this process of consultations, we want to hear all that our people want to tell us and the direction they want to take in the future," said Gordon.

In order to ensure that enough time will be given to informing, educating, and building consensus on issues surrounding Constitutional change, Gordon is set to file a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention that would be convened only after 2010.

"This should take the pressure off the people to decide on committing to changes in a fundamental contract between the people and the state. Besides that, we want candidates in the 2010 elections to bare their stand on constitutional change and make their stand on this issue a part of their platform. This will raise the level of public debate and make the next elections more about issues -- and less about perakter or financial girth and survey popularity," said Gordon.

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