Professors, scholars launch signature campaign vs constituent assembly

Camille Elemia
Professors, scholars launch signature campaign vs constituent assembly
(UPDATED) With at least 79 signatories as of 7 am of July 14, the manifesto also condemns talks of cancelling the 2019 elections

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Professors and scholars from different academic institutions in the Philippines have started a signature campaign against plans to hold a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

While convening Congress into a Constituent Assembly is one of the 3 ways to revise the charter, the academicians called for a more inclusive and participatory process in constitutional reform. (READ: The problem with Con-Ass? Distrust of Congress)

“Almost 80% of Congress is comprised of political dynasties, and the empirical evidence suggests that a majority of them may face deep conflict of interest if a new constitution aims for reforms that level the political playing field. The risk of capture by vested interests affecting our present politics is too great,” the professors said in a statement.

Citing recent surveys, the professors said now is not the right time to reform the Constitution.

According to the March 2018 Pulse Asia survey, a big majority of Filipinos or 64% oppose charter change. (READ: What you need to know about charter change)

Changing the Constitution also ranked last in the “most urgent national concerns” in Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated’s survey, with only 3% of the Filipinos saying that it should be acted upon immediately.

A poll by  the Social Weather Stations in March showed that only 37% of Filipinos support the shift to a federal system of government while only one in 4 Filipinos are even aware of what it is.

The professors who signed the manifesto so far include:

  1. Fr. Roberto C. Yap, SJ, President, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan
  2. Fr. Roberto E. N. Rivera, SJ, President, Ateneo de Naga University
  3. Fr. Karel San Juan, SJ, President, Ateneo de Zamboanga University
  4. Fr. Joel E. Tabora SJ, President, Ateneo de Davao University
  5. Fr. Primitivo E. Viray Jr, SJ, Provincial Superior, Jesuits in the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus
  6. Br. Armin A. Luistro, FSC, President, De La Salle Philippines
  7. Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD, President, University of San Carlos
  8. Edilberto de Jesus, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Asian Institute of Management
  9. Cielito Habito, PhD, Department of Economics, Ateneo de Manila University
  10. Jaime G. Hofileña, Vice President for Social Development, Ateneo de Manila University
  11. Antonette Palma-Angeles, PhD, Vice President for the Professional Schools, Ateneo de Manila University
  12. Ronald U. Mendoza, PhD, Dean, Ateneo School of Government
  13. Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza, DPA, Dean, UP National College of Public Administration and Governance
  14. Melencio Sta Maria, LLM, Dean, Far Eastern University Institute of Law
  15. Jose Ramon Albert, PhD, Former President, Philippine Statistical Association
  16. Hadji Balajadia, MSc, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, School of Arts and Sciences, Ateneo de Davao University
  17. Nicole Curato, PhD, Research Fellow, University of Canberra
  18. Lisandro E. Claudio, PhD, Associate Professor, De La Salle University
  19. Jay Batongbacal, JSD, University of the Philippines College of Law
  20. Victor Andres Manhit, MPA, DLSU Associate Professor (Retired) and President of ADR Institute
  21. Aries A. Arugay, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
  22. Maria Ela L. Atienza, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
  23. Amado Mendoza Jr, PhD, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
  24. Francisco A. Magno, PhD, Director, DLSU Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance
  25. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, LLM, Non-Resident Research Fellow, Ateneo School of Government
  26. Tomas P. Africa, Former President, Philippine Statistical Association
  27. Jose V. Camacho Jr, PhD, Professor, University of the Philippines-Los Baños
  28. Luisito G. Montalbo, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Ateneo Graduate School of Business
  29. Marcial Orlando A. Balgos Jr, PhD, Chair, Department of Leadership, Ethics, & HR Management, Ateneo Graduate School of Business
  30. Antonio G. M. La Viña, JSD, Professorial Lecturer of Constitutional Law, University of the Philippines College of Law
  31. Emilyn Q. Espiritu, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Ateneo de Manila University
  32. Jan Robert R. Go, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
  33. Gerardo T. Los Baños, Department of Communications and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines-Diliman & Deputy Director, UP Press
  34. Arjan P. Aguirre, MA, Instructor, Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
  35. Eirene Jhone E. Aguila, Professor, Far Eastern University Institute of Law
  36. Imelda Deinla, PhD, Australian National University
  37. Rene D. Ledesma, Dean, Faculty and Academic Affairs, PHINMA University of Iloilo
  38. Adonis Elumbre, Assistant Professor and Chair, Department of History and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Baguio
  39. Ian Jayson R. Hecita, Program Manager, DLSU Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance
  40. Socorro L. Reyes, PhD, Former Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University
  41. Adelfo V. Briones, Adjuct Professor, Ateneo School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University
  42. Luisito C Abueg, Graduate Fellow, UP School of Economics
  43. Emmanuel S.​ de Guzman, PhD, Professor, Maryhill School of Theology & Loyola School of Theology​
  44. Rejene Tan Lakibul, MPMD, Faculty Member, Department of Political Science, School of Law and Governance, University of San Carlos
  45. Lloyd C. Bautista, DPA, Vice President, Academics, STI Education Services Group
  46. Ranilo B. Hermida, PhD, Associate Professor, Philosophy Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  47. Jose Maria G. Hofileña, Dean, Ateneo Law School
  48. Gillian Joyce G. Virata, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Roosevelt College, Inc.
  49. Agnes M. Brazal, PhD, Associate Professor and Research Fellow, De la Salle University
  50. Jose Mari O. Daclan, Ateneo School of Government
  51. Bonn Juego, PhD, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  52. Loreta Castro, Ed.D, Miriam College
  53. Ronald D. Holmes, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, De La Salle University
  54. Keith Einstein R. Pon, Instructor I, Mindanao State University- Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography
  55. Ivyrose Baysic, Head, Ateneo Policy Center
  56. Ruth Lusterio-Rico, Phd, Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, UP Diliman
  57. Kristine C. Meneses, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Santo Tomas
  58. Margarita Holmes, Pamatasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila
  59. Dennis Quilala, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, UP-Diliman
  60. Ma. Araceli Habaradas, Ateneo Law School
  61. Mary Racelis, PhD, Professor, Ateneo de Manila University
  62. Fr. Ramon D. Echica (SThD), Dean of Studies, Faculty of Theology, San Carlos Major Seminary
  63. Erwin A. Alampay, PhD, Associate Professor, National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines
  64. JC Punongbayan, PhD candidate, UP School of Economics
  65. Reinabelle Reyes, PhD, Lecturer, Ateneo de Manila University
  66. Remmon E. Barbaza, PhD, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Ateneo de Manila University
  67. Fanny A. Garcia, PhD, Filipino Department, De La Salle University-Manila
  68. Segundo Joaquin Eclar Romero Jr, Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University
  69. Michelle Estor, LLM, University of the Philippines College of Law
  70. Nico B. Valderrama, CPA, MPM, ESQ, Instructor, Arellano University School of Law
  71. Yvan Ysmael Yonaha, Instructor, University of the Philippines-Los Baños
  72. Cheryll Soriano, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, De La Salle University-Manila
  73. Celia M. Austria, University of the Philippines-Baguio
  74. Czarina Medina-Guce, Faculty, Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University
  75. Rowena Soriano, Member, Faculty of Law, Ateneo de Manila University and FEU Law; Assistant Professor, Political Science Program, Department of Social Sciences, UP Manila
  76. Jose Victor Patalinghug, Academic, College of Arts and Sciences, Cebu Institute of Technology- University
  77. Manuel Victor J. Sapitula, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of the Philippines Diliman
  78. Ed Garcia, Framer, 1987 Constitution
  79. Julian Concepcion Jr, Finance & Economics Professor, Fairleigh Dickinson University Vancouver Campus

No to ‘no-el’ 2019

The scholars also strongly condemned talks of cancelling the 2019 elections, saying “there are more pressing and immediate policy challenges that our leaders must address,” including the spate of killings in the country and rising prices of goods.

“A constitution is supposed to bind our nation in common values and a shared vision. It is the very glue that should unite us all in common purpose. If we are to amend the constitution, we must invest not just in the outcome, but in the very process,” they said.

“This is a broad discussion that must bring together our citizens from all walks of life, professions and political leanings. It is a national discourse that must allay fears, clarify concerns and bring us all towards common ground,” they added.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez first floated the idea of a no-election scenario in January. He raised it again on Wednesday, July 11, saying it would expedite the shift to federalism.

The Speaker explained he prefers not to have the elections in 2019 because Congress would be pressed for time to amend the charter. Con-Com chairman Reynato Puno recommends the ratification of the new constitution by May 2019, the same month the midterm polls is scheduled.

The House already approved a joint resolution calling both chambers of Congress to form a Constituent Assembly to amend the charter. The Senate, however, has not acted on it. Senators wanted to ensure that there would be separate voting between chambers should a Con-Ass be formed.

Some senators are also pushing for Constitutional Convention, but Duterte had announced he wanted the faster and cheaper mode of Con-Ass. In the latter, Congress is convened to change the Constitution while in Con-Con the delegates will be elected by the people. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com