Passing laws to circumvent the constitutional prohibitions are but admissions to the flaws of the 1987 Constitution and its failure to adapt to the changing needs of the country.

This is the sentiment of senior lawmaker Robert Ace Barbers when asked to comment on the proposed CHACHA by the House of Representatives.

Barbers supports the call of Speaker Martin Romualdez to tackle Chacha next year with the proposal to review the economic, social and political provisions to make them responsive to the situation and reality on the ground. He said that a revised constitution will be a better tool for our President, now and in the future, to sell the country to investors and navigate the gobal business network for our people. He further said that instead of going out to work, they will be staying to man and run businesses both foreign ang local that may choose the country if the right climate prevails.

“Passing laws in the hope of curing the flaws of the Charter is an admission of the need to amend it. Even if Congress pass thousands of economic laws in contravention of the Constitution, nothing will change. They will be questioned before the Supreme Court. It is a waste of valuable resources. It is an admission that the Charter has failed us economically, politically and socially. What are we waiting for, to be at the bottom of the ladder?,” Barbers asked.

“In ASEAN alone, from leader, we are now number 8 out of 10 nations. Vietnam and Cambodia have overtaken us. How much more in Asia and the world. We have to wake up from our deep slumber and constant denial for the need to change. It is time for a reality check. The time is now”, !!! Barbers said.

“36 years since its passage, do we already have answers to questions why our biggest global export is our OFWs? They are the strongest and primary
reason why our economy remains afloat and resilient. But at what social cost? What is the alternative to human exports? Our people keep trying to go abroad to work as modern day household slaves in foreign land for lack of job opportunities here. We produce good doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals. Yet our own health care system and education sector are terribly sick. They would rather work abroad than stay here. Why? We need to know the root cause and find solutions. As their elected leaders, we owe it to them to find ways to improve their lot,” Barbers said.

In the political provisions, Barbers said that the admissions of some of the framers of the Constitution that they had no concrete basis for putting the three-year term caps on the Representatives is in itself a reason to take a second look. Why the distinction and discrimination?

“It was a revelation and admission of lack of basis and according to them “para maiba lang”, smacks of discrimination and lack of vision. Now we have elections every three years. With the most recent SC decision of BSKE elections, we might have yearly elections. Yet we wonder why we are in the bottom standings of the world. These very expensive elections have become the favorite pastime of the people. These elections have bred and continue to breed massive corruption. We just refuse to acknowledge it and turn a blind eye to this gruesome reality. This corrupt practice contribute heavily to our economic slide. Everything comes to a halt during elections. Only the self-proclaimed election “magicians” profit from this exercise,” Barbers said.

“It is time we require and place qualifications for elected officials so that our country can really move forward. Let us do away with making our elections a popularity contest and a mockery of our only chance to uplift our own lives”, Barbers said.

“Everytime Cha-Cha is the topic, the same people oppose it and they say the same thing. It is sad because they are not in touch with the people on the ground and are not attuned to their sentiments. Unlike Congressmen, Governors and Mayors who are working directly, closely and daily with their constituents, they do not have direct district constituents. That is the reason for their expected and usual reaction. On the other hand, we see the economic struggles of our constituents yet we can only do so much”, Barbers said.

“To say that a review is premature or that amendments are not needed at this time sounds like a broken record already because that thas been their argument since 1995 when then President Ramos tinkered with the idea of reviewing the charter to make it responsive to our economic needs,” Barbers added.

“What is wrong in reviewing pertinent provisions of the charter? Does it mean that we will bury the country in debt or ruin its institutions and destroy our democratic framework? Absolutely not! A review is very much consistent with the good intent of improving our political, economic and social systems should we find them lacking, so that we can bring the country closer to our neighbors in terms of development. Ang dami ngang provisions which were inadvertently left unedited like the structure of the Legislature, unicameral or bi-cameral kaya may conflicting provisions. This is the proof that it was passed in haste thus we need to correct to give it consistency. The knee-jerk reaction is unfair and uncalled for. Wala pa nga tayong inu umpisahan eh babarilin na agad. Let the free market of ideas prevail and intelligent discussions flourish – all for the good of the people – both now and the years to come,” Barbers said.

“ Most importantly, we must remember that any and all proposed amendments from Congressmen, Senators and the people through people’s initiative will still have to be approved by the people in a plebiscite. So the paranoia of some quarters that the proposed amendments are self serving are totally baseless. Let us disabuse our minds from these fears and respect the people’s will that will be reflected in the plebiscite instead of fanning the flames of fear mongering”, Barbers said.