Press Release
January 27, 2021

Hearing on Constitutional Amendments

Thirty-three years ago, the 1987 Constitution came to fruition; a product of the hard work and dedication of the forty-four men and women comprising the 1986 Constitutional Commission. They drafted a historic document which they deemed as "truly reflective of the aspirations and ideals of the Filipino people."1

We fully respect the Framers of the Constitution. However, with the emergence of modern technology and unknown deadly viruses, it is my submission that we should inquire as to whether the provisions of the 1987 Constitution still reflects the aspirations, ideals and needs of the Filipino people today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly devastated our nation, our public health system, and our economy. The government's economic managers, through the Development Budget Coordination Committee, said that the GDP likely contracted by 8.5% to 9.5% in 2020.2 It also caused a high unemployment rate, with 3.8 million Filipinos still unemployed last October 2020.3 Further, the pandemic resulted to an alarming decline in many economic sectors, such as in tourism and accommodation, manufacturing, construction, transportation and storage;4 and a steep drop in OFW remittances by as much as 19.2% last May 2020, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).5

While the country recuperates from the effects brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to supplement catalysts in order to hasten our recovery. The roll-out of the national vaccination program is significant but will be insufficient to heal the economic wounds caused by this pandemic.

As these current issues come to light, however, this does not overshadow the deep-seated societal and economic problems which have held back the country for more than three decades and which may be traced to the restrictive language in some provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Prof. Gerardo P. Sicat, Professor Emeritus of the UP College of Economics, pointed out that the nationalistic provisions adopted by the 1987 Constitution from the 1935 Constitution were formulated in anticipation of the country's future political independence from the United States of America.6 However, the conditions existing then are not necessarily present now.

As previous attempts will show, initiating discussions towards amending the Constitution is fraught with many challenges and issues. However, no matter how difficult and painstaking it may be, this representation sincerely believes that it is not just a timely endeavor but a just and worthy cause.

It is for this reason that Sen. Francis "Tol" Tolentino and this representation filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 which aims to hasten the recovery of our economy. Relaxing the requirements for entry of foreign investments will make our country attractive to investors. With high investments in local industries, our country will recover faster from the recent economic loss and ensure inclusive and sustainable development. More businesses shall equate to more job opportunities for our fellow Filipinos. We do not intend to just settle for band aid solutions to our country's rising unemployment but rather a long-term solution that shall not only boost our economy but also uplift the lives of our people.

Others would say that it's not a good time to amend the Constitution because of the existence of pandemic. However, it is my humble opinion that because of the existence of pandemic, the more it is necessary to consider again the discourse on relaxing restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution to rapidly revive and revitalize our economy.

Thank you.


1 session-october-15-1986/
4 Joseph Anthony Lim, The Philippine Economy during the COVID Pandemic, Working Paper No. 2020-16, dated September 18, 2020, Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, Ateneo De Manila University, accessed at pandemic.html?fbclid=IwAR3g3sxe1yyeJBIuk5nl0-
5 C9eFqslqvJRjjAcu2Ym4aJjCS6OJflyzwoaD0
6 Gerardo P. Sicat, 2005. Reform of the Economic Provisions of the Constitution : Why National Progress Is at Stake, UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 200510, University of the Philippines School of Economics

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