Press Release
January 13, 2011

Enrile: Cha-cha best left to Congress

Let's change the Constitution, but let's do it through a constitutional assembly, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday.

Responding to queries in a radio interview, Enrile said he favored Charter change at this time, but only through a constitutional assembly.

"Charter change is imperative, it's needed now. But we do not need a Con-con (Constitutional Commission), that would only cost a lot of money. Congress can do it. Why do we have to hold an election and pay the salaries of people who may not necessarily understand the problems of the nation because they have not experienced these problems," Enrile said.

While acknowledging that constitutional experts should be consulted, Enrile said he prefers to have public officials elected by the people, "who have to live with the present Constitution and already have an intimate grasp of problems facing the nation" to amend the fundamental law.

Enrile said he would even favor a shift to a unicameral parliamentary system: "I have no problem with a unicameral set-up. If the result of the voting is to abolish the Senate, so be it."

Asked whether some congressmen may not be credible to the public sitting as part of a constitutional assembly, Enrile said that it's not the House alone that will decide, as the views of senators will also be considered. "There will be a balance of opinions," he said.

Will Charter change divert the government from identified priorities, will it not divide the people? "That is a weak argument. We need to amend the Charter because it is a source of our problems as a nation and it retards our progress. As long as we have the present Constitution we will remain where we are," Enrile said.

Asked as to how Charter change could help curb corruption, Enrile replied: "You cannot change the character of the Filipino through Charter change but you can open up the country to development. The problem of corruption is a question of law enforcement. If you jail the corrupt and seize their ill-gotten wealth, the problem will stop."

What specific provisions of the present charter should be changed? "Some of the provisions of the 1987 Constitution hinder the nation's progress. The Constitution actually favors only the rich. It allows them to invest as much as 60% in mining, agriculture, transportation, and so on. The rich make lots of money here but they bring the profits elsewhere, to China, Canada, Australia, Guam and even Papua New Guinea. It is these countries that benefit, because their nationals get jobs, while many Filipinos remain unemployed," Enrile observed.

"We should have an investment policy that will protect not only the rich, but also the poor. We can control the foreigners but not the rich Filipinos who control our politics, the judiciary, the executive branch, and even the police and the military. While the present set-up works to their advantage, the nation suffers," Enrile added.

Told that in every administration there's a call for Charter change, Enrile said: "There's a need for it. Many oppose it for their own personal interests, not the national or public interest. The 1987 Constitution should be amended so that we can have unity in our society. There's too much debate."

News Latest News Feed