THE PASSAGE of the draft federal constitution at the House of Representatives “hijacked” the democratic and transparent process, said the presidents of the five Jesuit-run Ateneo universities in the country.
“We call on our legislators to stop fast-tracking the charter change process, and to take the proper steps to consult all sectors in order to re-establish credibility and trust in the process,” the school heads said in a joint statement issued on Monday and posted on the Ateneo official social media accounts.
The statement was signed by Jesuit priests Karel S. San Juan (Ateneo de Zamboanga), Joel E. Tabora (Ateneo de Davao), Jose Ramon T. Villarin (Ateneo de Manila), Roberto Exequiel N. Rivera (Ateneo de Naga), and Roberto C. Yap (Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan).
They cited three “troubling” key provisions of Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, specifically the omission of provisions against political dynasties, term limits for members of Congress, and the entire article on “Social Justice and Human Rights.”
Both the anti-dynasty provision and term limits are enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, and their removal, according to the Ateneo presidents, threatens to “concentrate powers in the hands of very few political clans.”
Further, Ateneo also warned against the deletion of Article 13 of the 1987 Constitution, which carries the government’s commitment to protect public interest in terms of labor, urban land reform and housing, agrarian and natural resources reform, among others.
“These features of RBH 15 alone, combined with the unreasonable pace and non-inclusive process, are likely to exacerbate further the trust deficit that presently characterizes the federalism discussions,” the Jesuit priests said.
They appealed to the administration to hold a genuine dialogue across the country to allow Filipinos to decide on the revision of the Constitution.
RBH No. 15 was approved by a majority of House solons last Dec. 12.
Another charter draft, dubbed the Bayanihan Federalism, was previously prepared by the Consultative Committee (ConCom) led by retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno. The ConCom was ordered established by President Rodrigo R. Duterte. — Charmaine A. Tadalan