Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos: Charter change only about economic reforms, ‘nothing more’

Dwight de Leon

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Marcos: Charter change only about economic reforms, ‘nothing more’

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., USA on May 4, 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

(1st UPDATE) Fears of amending political provisions of the 1987 Constitution come against the backdrop of an important historical detail – that charter change under his father's regime decades ago was a key factor in being in power for 21 years

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. insisted that his administration only supports an economic charter change, amid fears that efforts to amend or revise the Constitution are meant to eventually touch on political provisions.

“I want to make it clear. This administration’s position in introducing reforms to our Constitution extends to economic matters alone, or those strategically aimed at boosting our country’s economy. Nothing more,” he said in a speech on Thursday, February 8, at the Constitution Day event of the Manila Overseas Press Club.

Marcos previously said he was not closing his doors to the idea of amending political provisions in the Constitution, but clarified that he would rather have discussions on term limits at a later time.

Marcos’ father – the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos – successfully changed the Constitution during his time as president, which, as per the Martial Law Museum, allowed him to stay in power beyond the two four-year terms stated in the 1935 Constitution. He ran the country from 1965 to 1986, stepping down only after being ousted by the EDSA People Power Revolution.

That episode in Philippine history has tainted conversations on charter change, sparking fears that its advocates in government would eventually want to extend their terms of office.

Some observers are also worried that the latest charter change push – backed by House Speaker Martin Romualdez – is meant to eventually make the President’s cousin the prime minister, in the event the nation transitions from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government.

‘Debate must continue’

In pushing for an economic charter change, Marcos cited the business sector, which has pointed out “economic provisions in the Constitution that inhibit our growth momentum.”

“Anchored on these restrictive provisions, there are laws that prohibit certain kinds of foreign investments, and thus limit our economic potential and our global competitiveness,” he said.

As a general rule, foreigners cannot have more than 40% stake in industries, but in recent years, the government has passed several laws that open up the country’s economy to the world.

The charter change agenda, however, has intensified the feud between the House and the Senate in the past month.

House leaders either oversaw or supported a signature drive to amend a constitutional provision that would allow the House and the Senate to vote as one when a motion to form a constituent assembly is called.

In that scenario, the House can force the Senate’s hand, as the 24-member Senate is essentially outnumbered by the 300-plus-member House.

That campaign did not sit well with the Senate, sparking a word war between leaders of the two chambers of Congress.

Marcos said he will not hinder dialogues in Congress on charter change. 

“We must allow this healthy and democratic debate to rage on, engaging and informing the minds of our citizenry, especially since the socio-economic development of our country is directly involved,” he added. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Really? Can we trust President Marcos Jr. not to follow in his late father’s footsteps? Will he give in to the idea to “make the President’s cousin the prime minister, in the event the nation transitions from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government”?

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.