Press Release
January 27, 2021


Sen. Grace Poe said the country should seek guidance from the surviving members of the Constitutional Convention in 1986 to settle once and for all the issue of whether or not the House of Representatives and the Senate were meant to vote separately on proposed amendments or revisions to the Constitution that the executive is pushing to encourage the entry of foreign investors to spur economic growth.

"On matters lesser than the amendment of the Constitution, our chambers vote and discuss matters separately. Kapag gagawa ng bagong LTO district office, kailangan ang Senado. Kung magbibigay ng prangkisa, kahit gaano man kaliit, kailangan ang Senado. So it only makes sense that we as a body should insist on voting separately from the Bigger House," Poe said.

Some 13 business groups, including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Makati Business Club, have expressed strong opposition to moves to amend the Constitution with just 15 months to go before the next presidential elections.

Poe said foreign investments can be encouraged without having to amend the constitution such as amending the Public Service Act which the executive has yet to certify as urgent.

"Passing the economic bills that are now pending will address some of the concerns on encouraging investments. I think it is a more realistic and a less contentious route that we must look into first before going through the entire exercise of a constitutional amendment supposedly for economic reasons," Poe said. "Many of our countrymen are apprehensive about this push especially at this time."

Even if the House and the Senate convenes jointly or separately, Poe warned that there is still no guarantee that it will not be questioned in the Supreme Court.

The 1986 Constitutional Convention consisted of 48 individuals that included a diverse group from film maker Lino Brocka to legal luminaries such as Joaquin G. Bernas S. J. and former Justice Adolfo Azcuna, among others.

Christian Monsod, who was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Convention, said at the Senate hearing that they meant for the House and the Senate to vote separately on the matter, adding that they made a mistake by not making it explicit.

"Kung yung pagpapapangalan ng mga kalsada o pagpapalit lang ng pangalan ng mga eskuwela tayo ay bumoboto ng hiwalay, ngayon pa kaya na mismo ang ating konstitusyon ang apektado ay bigla na lang mag-iiba ang ating gawa ng batas," Poe added.

To settle the issue on what the framers of the constitution intended, Poe suggested that the surviving members of the 1986 Constitutional Convention craft a document stating once and for all what their intention was.

"Many of our colleagues now are a little bit wary of passing or easing the restrictions on foreign ownership because of certain relations with other countries. We cannot say that this is not unfounded. I am for easing foreign ownership but I understand the ambivalence of some and the objection of others because of some countries that have interest in our country," Poe said.

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