AMENDMENTS to the 1987 Constitution as proposed by the House of Representatives are not among the priorities of the Senate for the 18th Congress, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said Monday.
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments on Dec. 11 approved an unnumbered Resolution of Both Houses (RBH), which will ease restrictions on foreign investments and extend the terms of local officials.
Mr. Sotto said, however, that the proposed changes are not deemed important by his chamber.
“Wala kaming kinalaman dahil (We have nothing to do with it because they are) not a priority in the Senate,” Mr. Sotto told reporters in a briefing Monday.
“It’s not in any of the committees, there is no resolution filed, we are not even talking about it.”
Shifting to a federal government was among the campaign promises of President Rodrigo R. Duterte beginning with the appointment of a 22-member Constitutional Commission (ConCom), led by retired Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in January 2018.
The ConCom, which reviewed the 1987 Constitution, drafted the Bayanihan Federalism bill for submission to the 17th Congress. The draft, however, was set aside as then House members approved their own version, designated RBH No. 15.
The resolution passed the House, but failed to obtain final-reading approval in the Senate before the session adjourned on June 3.
Mr. Duterte in a June 25 speech pushed Congress to amend the Constitution, which Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno then said would be “disruptive,” considering the President is already halfway through his term.
Mr. Sotto did not entirely dismiss the resolution, noting the Senate will still tackle the proposal once it is transmitted.
“The House can do whatever it wants, and perhaps if they decide on something, then they can transmit it to us; and then we can talk about it if it’s transmitted to us.”
The House Committee, led by Cagayan de Oro-2nd district Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, proposed to allow legislation to ease restrictions on foreign investment and franchise grants for the operation of public utilities, among other economic provisions.
The resolution also proposed to increase the number of elected senators to 27 from the current 24. It provided that three senators each represent the National Capital Region, Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol region, eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Under the proposal, Senators’ terms of office will be reduced to five years from the current six; while members of the House will serve five years, up from the current three years. — Charmaine A. Tadalan