The 1987 Philippine Constitution is the supreme and primary law of the Republic of the Philippines as a democratic
nation. To ordinary Filipino citizens the Constitution serves as the bedrock of democracy and the basic law by and through which all other laws in the country are subservient. This means that Congress, both the Lower House and Upper House (Senate), cannot craft and enact laws which are opposed to or against the provisions of the Constitution. When this happens the Supreme Court (SC), considered as the final arbiter in the interpretation of laws, will have to strike down the enacted law for being unconstitutional.

At the opposite of course is when the SC will rule that a law approved by Congress is in fact constitutional since it abides by the pertinent provisions of the basic law. Ultimately the Constitution is for the Filipino people and serves to act as a benchmark and guidepost on how the people shall be governed and how the State and government should act accordingly. When there are calls for the amendment of the Constitution in either of the three modes provided by that basic law – Peoples Initiative, Constituent Assembly, and Constitutional Convention then those actors of the
change or revision should see to it that such alterations shall redound to the benefit of the people and the nation.

Now the recent clamour to amend the Constitution through the so-called Peoples Initiative (PI) has reaped suspicion and doubt because of the very reason for the amendment which is allegedly grounded on the economic needs of the
nation. Of course, even without the PI there are already proposed legislative measures being discussed in Congress
and aimed at changing the Constitution. During one recent Senate hearing or public consultation for charter change or ‘Cha-Cha’ some resource persons were for amending the Constitution for economic reasons and there are also others who opposed tinkering with the Constitution citing various valid reasons.

One of those who believe that there is no need to change the Constitution just to allow full foreign participation in
businesses, other enterprises and services is retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. Justice Carpio is of the observation that if the only reason for attempting to change the Constitution is to allow wider foreign ownership of business in the Philippines then the proponents of the amendment of the law have not really studied their proposal since there are already other laws that have allowed foreigners to own fully business here in the country.

In statements made during the said Senate hearing Justice Carpio mentioned three measures passed by Congress hat allowed 100% foreign ownership in the Philippines through the so-called trade liberalization. These laws are Republic Act 8762 otherwise known as the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Public Service Act of 1936 as amended,
and Republic Act 7042 which is also known as Foreign Investments Act. He also cited Republic Act 10641 which is an
act that allows the full entry of foreign banks in the Philippines and Republic Act 8762 which opened the retail trade business to full foreign ownership subject to certain conditions on the minimum requirements on capital.

The retired Supreme Court Associate Justice also cited the fact that because of an amendment in the implementing
rules and regulations of RA 9153 done thru a circular issued by the Department of Energy the generation of renewable energy in the country has just been opened for 100% foreign ownership. So, if there are already laws that address the issue of foreigners fully owning businesses and services here in the country then is there really a necessity to amend the Constitution? Or, as some sectors opposing Cha-Cha are saying, the people behind the move to amend the Constitution are really only after their own selfish vested interests which is primarily to ensure their
continued stay in power.

It can only be surmised that if the PI or the legislative measure now being discussed in Congress gains traction then
the only remedy to obviate its success will be to vote for the denial to amend the Constitution thru a plebiscite. In
other words, the non-ratification of the Constitution.

Amianan Balita Ngayon