Charter change not timely, says Ramos

Published by rudy Date posted on February 11, 2009

Former President Fidel Ramos said Tuesday that the time for Charter change has already passed, adding that the “Hyatt 10” incident in July 2005 should have been the “day of reckoning.”

“Now is not the time to push for Charter change. We missed that opportunity back in July 2005,” Ramos said during the launching of his book, Bulletin of FVR Sermons Vol. III: Unity, Solidarity, Teamwork, in Manila Hotel.

Ramos said that amendments to the Constitution should have been made at the time when Charter change was seen as a means to reform.

“Noon sana [Back then] and maybe six to 12 months after that but then the window [of opportunity] closed because no one is now equating Charter change to reforms of the undesirable features of the 1987 Constitution, such as the economic provisions and also the provisions on punishment,” he said.

Lawmakers last week approved House Speaker Prospero Nograles’ House Resolution 737, which aims to amend economic provisions in the Constitution that would allow foreigners to acquire 100-percent ownership of Philippine land.

The approval of House Resolution 737 drew fire from several sectors, including militant groups such as Bayan and Anakbayan. They contended that the resolution is a “betrayal of national interest” because the government is selling out Philippine lands and natural resources to foreign investors.

At the same hearing, the Committee on Constitutional Amendments junked House Resolution 888 or the proposal of the minority bloc in Congress to stop all moves to change the Charter before 2010 with a 9-4 vote.

Reforms needed

Ramos, although disapproving of moves to change the Charter at this time, said that fighting political dynasties and nepotism needs reforms. And although the two issues are already addressed in the 1987 Constitution, “it is not made operational because of the lack of a law,” he said.

“Reforms in our electoral system are necessary although those may not need Charter change,” Ramos added.

The Hyatt 10 incident refers to the resignation of eight Cabinet officials and two bureau heads of the Arroyo administration in 2005 at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal.

In that scandal, President Gloria Arroyo allegedly made phone calls to former poll body Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the 2004 presidential elections where the Chief Executive asked Garcillano to assure her win over the late Fernando Poe Jr. –Bernice Camille V. Bauzon, Reporter, Manila Times

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