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House members propose early plebiscite for economic Charter amendments

MANILA: Four ranking members of the House of Representatives on Monday pushed for an early plebiscite for the ratification by the people of proposed amendments to the Constitution’s restrictive economic provisions.

Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez and Reps. Geraldine Roman (Bataan, 1st District), Jeffrey Khonghun (Zambales, 1st District), and Franciso Paolo Ortega (La Union, 1st District) made the proposal in a news briefing in response to a statement by veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal that holding the plebiscite along with the May 2025 local-congressional elections would be unconstitutional.

‘I have been consistent with my position na hindi po talaga dapat isabay po ito sa mid-term elections natin. Ang unang dahilan, sa pananaw ko po (that the plebiscite cannot be held simultaneously with the mid-term elections. In my opinion, the main reason) is we cannot allow the Constitution to undergo political mudslinging and be politicized by what happens during midterm el
ections,’ Suarez said.

‘Number two, we cannot allow that the Constitution be tackled in the same level as midterm elections because mas mahalagang pag-usapan natin ang Konstitusyon, kaya dapat naka bukod po ito pagdating sa pagbobotohan (the Constitution is a more important issue, that’s why it should be voted on separately).’

Suarez also noted that with Macalintal’s statement, the House now has the ‘legal basis’ to insist on the conduct of the plebiscite earlier than the May 2025 elections.

‘The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and we have to protect it, we have to uphold it, we have to safeguard it. And in doing so, we have to make sure that when we do conduct amendments and go through a plebiscite for it, nakatutok lamang ang atensyon at pag-uunawa ng tao sa pag uusapan natin (the attention and understanding of the people are focused on the issues at hand),’ he added.

Roman agreed with Suarez, saying Macalintal’s statement ‘affirms the House stand that a separate plebiscite should be held an
d the idea of holding it together with national elections is counterproductive.”

‘It is also a reminder to our colleagues in the Senate that we would have to work with a sense of urgency. If the ultimate goal is basically to approve RBH (Resolution of Both Houses No.) 6, it should be approved at the time when we do not have to hold a plebiscite alongside the national elections,’ the chairperson of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality said.

Roman, likewise, urged senators to shed their ‘irrational fears’ that the House would eventually consider political amendments, considering the pronouncements of Speaker Martin Romualdez, and even President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on the issue.

‘No politician in his right mind would actually try or even attempt to introduce political amendments when for the longest time, we have been assuring our friends in the Senate that we are only interested in amending the economic provisions,’ she said.

Meanwhile, Khonghun said it would be better for Filipino voters to
understand the proposed amendments if a plebiscite is conducted separately from the midterm elections in May next year.

‘Mahirap kung nadadamay sa pulitika ang ating Konstitusyon. Para ‘din maintindihan, maunawaan, at maisapuso ng ating mga kababayan (It is hard to mingle the Constitution with politics. It is also for the people to better appreciate, understand and take the matter seriously),’ said Khonghun, who is one of the House Assistant Majority Leaders.

For his part, Ortega, who is also an assistant majority leader, said the Constitution should be put ‘on a pedestal platform on its own.’

He said it is for this reason that the House has its own RHB 7, to show to the Senate that the Charter change is ‘purely economic and not political.’

Source: Philippines News Agency