Is Charter Change Now Relevant to Filipinos? Forum Examines Key Issues in Proposed Amendments

Posted on April 20, 2023


April 20, 2023 - The proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution have garnered significant attention and urgency in recent weeks, with developments in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. To address the implications of these proposed changes on economic inclusion, social justice, and democracy, INCITEGov and Tindig Pilipinas convened a forum on April 20 at the Kasagana-Ka Mutual Benefit Association Hall in Quezon City.


Fifty-eight representatives from various Tindig Pilipinas hubs, including Akbayan Party, Liberal Party, Magdalo, Alyansa ng Samahang Pantao (ASAP), EveryWoman, Manindigan Na, Talesayen/SOLIDAR, The CSOs Guild (TCG), and Youth Resist, attended the forum. AJ Montesa, Senior Researcher and Head of the Tax Policy of the Action for Economic Reforms, served as the forum's resource speaker.



Montesa emphasized that Charter Change is not the solution to change the economic provisions in the constitution, citing new laws passed in 2021 and 2022-the Public Service Act of 2022 RA 11659, Foreign Investments Act of 2022 RA 11647, and Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2021 RA 11595-that address the same concerns as the recommended economic revisions. He also expressed concern about the vagueness of the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" included in many proposed revisions, which could have unintended consequences. He also highlighted that the high cost of pursuing amendments to the Constitution, with an estimated cost of PHP 14Billion, could be better spent on urgent economic concerns affecting the poor.


Representative Edcel Lagman of the first district of Albay Province, President of the Liberal Party expressed his opposition to the current efforts to amend the constitution in his explanation of his negative vote. He emphasized that the government should prioritize addressing pressing economic concerns such as poverty alleviation, food security, and inflation rates before pursuing Charter Change. Furthermore, Lagman reiterated his opposition to the constitutional convention (con-con) method approved by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, citing its high cost and potential for partisan politics. His statement was read and explained by Tindig Pilipinas Convenor Ging Deles during the forum.



Luke Stephen Tiongson, a representative from UP Alyansa, and Justin Balane, the Chairperson of Akbayan Youth Philippines, both commended the forum for providing an engaging and accessible platform to understand the implications of Charter Change. They emphasized the importance of continuing discussions on the issue beyond their own circles, stating:


"The forum was engaging and digestible. It was a great avenue for us, youth leaders, to gain a deeper understanding of the Cha-Cha, most importantly its ramifications. As Rep. Lagman stated: 'Charter Change is not the panacea to all our woes.' It is crucial for us to carry the discourse on Cha-Cha beyond our own echo chambers." - Tiongson


"Charter change can be an intimidating issue to discuss, but the forum provided a space to understand the harms of this rushed political project. Knowing the intentions of the elite politicians in pushing this is the first step in pushing back for the future of our democracy." -Balane


Aleta Tolentino, convener of Tindig Pilipinas, encouraged its hubs to engage their members and communities in ongoing discussions on Charter Change. She emphasized the importance of ensuring people's participation and demanding accountability and transparency in the discussions at the Senate and House of Representatives.


The forum served as an important avenue to discuss the key issues in the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution and their relevance to the poor. It highlighted the need for a more inclusive and democratic process in Charter Change discussions and the prioritization of urgent economic concerns affecting the poor.