Press Release
March 1, 2018


Cebu City
1 March 2018

We are here to conduct the sixth Senate hearing on Charter Change. The first two were spearheaded by Senator Frank Drilon when he was chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and two subsequent hearings at the Senate were led by this representation.

However, we believe that the issue of Charter Change must go outside the halls of the Senate. It is an issue that greatly concerns each and every Filipino and not just the politicians. And this is why we are here.

This is the second in a series of at least four hearings to be conducted outside Metro Manila. Our first hearing was conducted in Cagayan de Oro City last February 22. We opted to bring the hearing to Mindanao first because the proposals to amend the constitution is being spearheaded by our Mindanaoan President, citing Mindanao as the area which needs cha-cha and federalism most.

During the hearing in Cagayan de Oro, we got to hear the voices of the academe, the business sector, the indigenous peoples, women, and the youth. They answered five questions, which our resource persons will again answer today:

Una: Kailangan nga bang amyendahan o baguhin ang ating Saligang Batas? Do we need to amend or change the 1987 Constitution?

Ikaduha: Kung kailangan, ano ang mga dapat baguhin sa Saligang Batas at bakit? If yes, what needs to be changed and why?

Ikatulo: Ito ba ay gagawin sa pamamagitan ng isang con-con o Constitutional Convention, o ng Kongreso mismo bilang isang Constitutional Assembly? Will the process be through a Constitutional Convention, or a Constitutional Assembly?

Ikaupat: Kung "con-ass" ang magaganap, boboto ba ang Senado at ang House of Representatives nang hiwalay, o iisa? If it's through the Constituent Assembly, will the Senate and the House vote jointly or separately?

Kinatapusan: Maari bang limitahan ng Kongreso ang kapangyarihan ng con-ass o con-con? Can the Congress limit the powers of a con-ass or con-con? These questions we asked in the hearings in Manila, in the hearing in Cagayan De Oro, and now we ask it again in this hearing in Cebu.

All earlier hearings yielded productive results. We strive to ensure that all sectors and all opinions are covered whether for or against. In the hearing last February 1, we focused on the sectors of society that will be most affected by any change in the constitution. We put the focus on ordinary citizens and workers.

And if I may say, for the information of our resource persons and the public at large in this hearing, the questions raised on that hearing are as follows:

First: Ano'ng buti ang idudulot ng cha-cha upang maiahon sa kahirapan ang karamihan sa ating mga kababayan? How can cha-cha address poverty?

Second: Will cha-cha be able to help provide basic food and non-food needs? Will it be our push to our fight against poverty? How will it address terrible traffic jams, if ever? Will it provide jobs and higher take-home pays? Will it provide quality and affordable education and health care?

Third: Will it be able to help eradicate the long-time problem of corruption, which has been an obstacle in improving the life of Filipinos?

Fourth: Ang sistemang pulitikal nga ba ang problema, o ang mga namumuno sa pamahalaan? Is the problem the type of government, or the people that govern or both?

Lastly: Do we need cha-cha to end poverty and inequality in the country?

We also need to delve deeper on the decision of the Consultative Committee created by the President adopting a federal-presidential system as one of their recommendations. The decision was made a just a few days ago. last. Under a federal-presidential system, the current set-up of the national government will remain, but there will be individual federal states with their own federal legislature and local governments.

These are all the questions that we hope to answer today, but we will focus on the needs of Visayas. We hope to listen to each and every one, all sectors, all genders, all ages, as the involvement of the people is the essence of a democracy. These regional consultations through a public hearing is part of this democratic process. To quote former Senate President Nene Pimentel during our first hearing, "We have to speak up while we still can (Musulti ka mientras pwede pa)."

I was being interviewed on the way here by one of your radio stations. And the commentator said when they were monitoring the first hearing of this committee on charter change with Chief Justice Davide there, with Senator Nene Pimentel there, they were very enlightened. The comment was that it was a very enlightening, deliberative discussion and I said precisely that the national discourse unfortunately to a certain degree has degenerated into insults, lying, bickering and we would like to move away from that and move towards allowing all views whether for or against to be expressed in a respectful, intelligent, deliberative process. That is what democracy is all about. We respect all views, we will hear all views, and ultimately, we will learn from these views and craft policy in a manner that is respectful, deliberative, and hopefully intelligent with the experts and enlightening.

The strength in our democracy is in how we live, not just speak democracy, but live it. And hopefully in this hearing today, we will live democracy, listen to our citizens , be enlightened, and therefore help us in crafting policy.

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