Press Release
October 10, 2011

Transcript of interview with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

On the recent proposals for charter change

I am chair of the committee on constitutional amendments. I am against passing constitutional amendments by the way it is recommended by the counterpart committee in the House because I believe it is unconstitutional. What they are proposing is that the constitutional amendments should be passed as if it is an ordinary bill, that is to say it should be passed in the House, then passed in the Senate, and then there should be a conference committee. I am aghast at that proposal because to say that a constitutional amendment should be passed the same way as an ordinary bill is an oxymoron. By definition a Constitution is higher than ordinary law and therefore you cannot possibly adopt the procedures for ordinary legislation to a constitutional process. How can you possibly amend the constitution which is the highest law of the land by a mere procedure which is normally reserved for ordinary bills? There should be a higher level of sovereignty involved.

So my position is if it was presented in my committee, of course I will hold a public hearing, but it will not be on the substance, only on the procedure. We are just discussing procedure so far. I am not necessarily against liberalizing the investment climate--that may or may not be good, I will have to study that more deeply. But with respect to the procedure, it is so wrong. It is dead wrong. I'm sure that if it were brought up in the Supreme Court even only as a hypothetical question, it would easily be rejected. But in our system, the Supreme Court cannot issue decisions on hypothetical issues.

I am sorry to dash cold water on all those fervent hopes about inviting foreign investments, but the truth of the matter is it does not take a constitutional amendment to invite foreign investors to come to our country. It is certainty and stability. Any businessman will tell you that what will invite investments in our country is not whether we allow them to own the enterprise or limit them only to 40 percent ownership. That is not the core issue. The issue is always is the economic regulatory system so certain and stable that when an investor comes with his money and capital and invests it in our economy, he will be sure that in the next 20 to 30 years the rules will remain the same. That's the main reason why we don't have foreign investments because the rules keep changing all the time. Plus, the degree of corruption of course distorts the rules.

When is the hearing?

Nothing has been referred to us (the committee). No senator has filed any resolution or bill. I'm just going to keep still.

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