Don’t Amend It.  Implement It.

Mar 12, 2023 | Advocacy, JEEPGY: Engaged Citizenship

Statement Against Charter Change

by the Davao Association of Catholic Schools, Inc.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has repeatedly stated that constitutional change is not a priority of his administration.  The economy can be sufficiently grown to serve the needs of the Filipino people without constitutional change.  We can return to the strength of the Philippine economy prior to the pandemic and surpass it without changing the constitution.  We stand with the President of the Republic in this position and call upon our legislators to do the same.

If the interests of the Filipino people are adequately served without constitutional change, whose interests are being promoted by insisting on amending the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution?  The economic amendments risk amendment of other valued provisions in the 1987 Constitution considered a social-justice Constitution.

Who is Advantaged by Changing the Economic Provisions of the Constitution?

It is clear:  If the economic provisions protect Philippine citizens, changing them advantages foreigners.  If the economic provisions protect the poor and the marginalized, changing them advantages the wealthy and the oligarchs.  If the entire Constitution promotes social justice, changing it imperils social justice.

If Art. XII, Sec. 2 says, “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant,” changing this would open ownership, control and supervision of valuable natural resources to foreign private business entities or states.   What is now owned “by the State” is owned by the Filipino People.  What is owned by a controlling majority of Filipinos is not owned by a controlling majority of foreigners.

We reject a situation where our natural resources and environment are exploited by the interests of such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, China or Russia.

If  Art. XVI. Sec 11 (1) states: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives of associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens”, amending this would mean mass media companies  could be owned by foreigners and controlled by foreign interests.   This would jeopardize the promotion of patriotism and nationalism through mass media in our culture, economy and politics.

If Art. XVI, Sec 11 (2) states, “only Filipino citizens or corporations or associations at least seventy percentum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens shall be allowed to engage in the advertising industry”,  amending this would allow the advertising industry “impressed with public interest” and “regulated for the protection of consumers and the promotion of the general welfare” to be run by those whose interests and values run counter to the public interest and fall short of promoting the public welfare. 

Art. XIV, Sec. 4 (2) states, “Educational institutions other than those established by religious groups and mission boards shall be owned solely by citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens,” and “The control and administration of educational institutions shall be vested in citizens of the Philippines” and “No educational institution shall be established exclusively for aliens  and no group of aliens shall comprise more than one-third of the enrollment of any school.”  Amending these provisions would open up education in the Philippines to foreigners and the interests of foreigners whose educational objectives may be other than those provided for in Art. XIV Sec. 3 (2),  “[All educational institutions] shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge and promote vocation efficiency.” 

Constitutional Change Endangers the Social Justice Provisions of the Constitution

Meanwhile the undertaking to change these economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution by whatever means endangers the integrity of the entire Constitution, including its valued social justice provisions:

“We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace, do ordain and promulgate this constitution” (Preamble).

Art. XIII on Social Justice and Human Rights articulates an imperative unique to this Constitution, “The Congress shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect and enhance the right of all the people to human dignity, reduce social, economic and political inequalities, and remove cultural inequities by diffusing wealth and political power for the common good.  This article then lists the vulnerable groups who must be benefitted by this highest priority in the pursuit of social justice and the common good:  the laborers, the farmers, the fisherfolk, the urban poor, the sick, and women.  It articulates the role and rights of people’s organizations and provides for human rights.

Once the charter is opened up for change, term limits of politicians can be extended indefinitely.  An economy unleashed from obligations to the common good privileges a wealthy elite whose power “needs” to be extended indefinitely.  The lifelong political tenures of Putin and Xi Jinping were preceded by charter change. 

The 1987 Constitution was ratified 36 years ago.  What is pressing is not to amend it, but to implement it. 


DACS President


Chairperson, Advocacy Commission