The public hearing on the proposed changes on the 1987 Constitution held in Cebu yesterday, March 1, by the Senate was filled with different views and opposing opinions.
But this was a welcome development and what is expected from a public hearing, especially on a topic as pressing as a charter change, said Senator Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.
Pangilinan presided the hearing, along with Senate minority floor leader Frank Drilon.
“That is what democracy is all about. We respect all views. We strive to ensure that all sectors and opinions are covered whether for or against. The strength in our democracy is in how we live, not just speak democracy,” said Pangilinan.
The public consultation held at the Capitol Social Hall yesterday was the second of a series of public hearings to tackle such concern. The first was done in Cagayan de Oro last Feb.22, while the next ones will be in Cotabato, Baguio and possibly in Bicol.
“We believe that the issue of Charter Change must go outside the halls of the Senate. It is an issue that greatly concerns each and every Filipino and not just politicians,” Pangilinan said.
The senators thanked the Provincial Government of Cebu for hosting the event, which had a huge turnout with representatives from various sectors.
Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III said the public hearing was timely considering the “age where information is spread almost instantaneously as events unfold, (and) information literacy is precisely what we need to address the proliferation of fake news.”
“Through this public hearing, we hope to engage and bring you into the discussion, beginning with the question on whether there is in the first place a need to revise or amend the 1987 Constitution,” said Davide.
He added that the public hearing aims to translate the intricacies of the provisions of the Constitution into a language that can be more easily appreciated by the public.
There were 15 resource speakers representing various sectors of the community and the government, who shared their position on plans to revise the 1987 constitution and the proposal to shift from a presidential form of government to federalism.
Resource speakers included former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, DILG 7 Regional Director Rene Burdeous, former Bayan partylist representative Neri Colmenares, Mayors Allan Cesante and Democrito Diamante of Dalaguete and Tuburan, respectively, and former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., who was one of the authors of the 1987 Constitution.
Other speakers included lawyer Democrito Barcenas of the Free Legal Assistance Group-Cebu Chapter; Lawyer Jose Glenn Capanas of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu City; Lawyer Baldomero Estenzo of the University of Cebu; Fe Barino of the Archdiocesan Commission on the Laity; Jamis Faisal Adiong of the youth sector; Francisco ‘Bimbo’ Fernandez of Pagtambayayong Foundation-Cebu; Dennis Derige of the Partido ng Manggagawa Cebu; and Ronilo Montejo, an urban poor leader.
There were also those from the audience who shared their sentiments on the matter.
Pangilinan assured that everything raised during the public hearing will be included in a report that will be submitted to the Senate. The report, he said, will aid them in coming up with a sound decision for the best interests of the Filipino people.