Press Release
May 18, 2024

18 May 2024

The Senate Subcommittee Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 (RBH No. 6) proposing amendments to economic provisions of the Constitution has brought its public hearings closer to the people, starting with what Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri as a very encouraging Baguio public consultations today.

"The Constitution is the bible of any nation. The bible of the Philippines. In the Constitution, on the first article is always talking about the sovereignty of our nation. It's the heart and soul of the nation," Zubiri said in his opening statement in the hearing in Baguio.

"Yesterday, we were reminded that our sovereignty faces a lot of challenges," the Senate chief said.

Zubiri was referring to his trip yesterday to Pag-asa Island along with some senators, defense and military officials, where they were subjected to a radio challenge by Chinese vessels.

"We are here today to support the committee. We want to improve the rules, the law, the heart and soul of our nation ... to improve the lives of Filipino people," he continued.

Zubiri said the Baguio hearing is part of efforts of the Senate to get the pulse of the people regarding amendments to the Constitution.

"Napakahalaga po na dalhin itong usapin ng Constitutional amendments sa publiko - dahil sa huli, hindi naman ito magiging desisyon ng mga mambabatas, kundi ng taumbayan mismo," he said referring to the plebiscite to ratify economic amendments to the Constitution if and when they are passed.

"At very encouraging po itong Baguio hearing dahil majority ng mga opinion na narinig natin ay in favor sa ating proposed amendments."

RBH No. 6 proposes amendments to select economic provisions of the Constitution, in order to open up public utilities, tertiary education, and the advertising sector to full foreign ownership.

"We want to improve the Constitution in order to improve the lives of our people, and ensure that they have more opportunities in this globalized age," said the Senate President, who is a co-author of RBH No. 6.

"Many other countries have amended their own constitutions, which has paved the way for their development. We just want the same for the country, especially since we have the potential to be a competitive investment haven here in Southeast Asia, given the English-language skills of our people."

The Senate leader recognized the importance of public consultation in the process of amending the Constitution, saying that the Senate is "here to listen to all sides."

He also acknowledged the recent Pulse Asia survey that shows 88 percent of Filipinos are opposed to Constitutional amendments at the moment.

"Baka hindi pa natin malinaw na naipapaliwanag ang mga benepisyo ng mga proposed amendments natin," he said. "But this is why we are bringing these discussions across the country, closer to our stakeholders. Kailangan mas mabuti nating maipaliwanag kung paano makakatulong itong RBH No. 6 sa bayan at sa bawat Pilipino," the Senate chief explained.

"Kung minadali namin ito, at hindi namin inikot sa stakeholders - pwedeng maipasa nga natin sa Senado, pero matalo naman sa plebisito."

The Senate President emphasized that opening select sectors to foreign ownership will bring in more jobs for Filipinos as a result of the anticipated infusion of foreign investments in the areas targeted by the amendments.

"Sa ngayon, nahuhuli na tayo sa development ng Vietnam at Indonesia, dahil wala silang Constitutional restrictions na humaharang sa foreign investments. Sayang, dahil yung mga interesado sana na pumasok sa Pilipinas, sa iba na lang pumupunta. My fear is that eventually, if we don't loosen our Constitutional restrictions, mabubura tayo sa isip ng mga investors, at mahuhuli tayo sa development dito sa Southeast Asia."

Joining the Senate President and the subcommittee chair for the hearing were Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senator Bato dela Rosa, and Senator Bong Go, with stakeholders from across northern Luzon.

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