MANILA, Philippines – Plans to commence charter change during a pandemic needs “further studying”. The failure to amend the constitution still allows local governments to earn more funds.
Meanwhile, this will have little to no effect on the atmosphere of international investment in the foreseeable future.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told STAR, “They are interesting initiatives and deserve further study.”
Previously, Dominguez together with other economic planners have expressed opposition on possible constitution amendments.
One of the foremost campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte was to impose a federal government.
The said proposal was later abandoned after much public distrust. Among issues raised was the stronger proliferation of political dynasties in such government.
In addition, there were also disagreements between the Congress and the Senate. This was about the mode in which the amendment of the 1987 will happen.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said that he would bring up the contentious parts of the charter change once Congress opens its session. Rodriguez is the current chair of the House’s constitutional amendments committee.
The lower House will open its session after the president’s delivery of his State of the Nation Address.
Charter change, not an abrupt need
Among reasons cited for the need of a charter change are the increase of LGU budget allocation from state revenues. In addition, they mentioned the need to increase the 40% limit on international investments.
Experts, however, expressed disagreement on the said matter.
Atty. Antonio La Viña said, “It diverts from doing the enormous work needed to fight the pandemic.”
“It divides the people when we should be united to overcome the health and economic challenges today,” he added.
UA&P School of Economics Dean Cid Terosa also disagreed with the reasoning behind the abrupt move.
“Since the outcome of the Cha-Cha talks is still uncertain, investors will maintain current investments and hold back further…,” Terosa said.
Mandanas ruling, another thing that demands a Charter Change
Another reason brought up to justify the need for a charter change is the implementation of the 2018 Mandanas ruling.
The said Supreme Court decision called on the national government to change its computation of the internal revenue allotment.
The high court ordered that the inclusion should not only come from revenues from within the country. They deemed that it should include all national tax collected.
The said “Mandanas-ruling” is dubbed after petitioner Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas.
The IRA is the 40% share of LGU’s from the cumulative state revenue.
When the magistrates ruled in favor of the petitioner, they instructed that tariffs and custom duties are part of the computation.
This results in the increase of funds for local governments.
Charter change proponents explained that there is a need to “institutionalize” the ruling. They deem that one of the ways to make it possible is an amendment of the Constitution.
However, Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio disagreed. Carpio was one of the magistrates who ruled on the said case.
“The Mandanas ruling, which states that the share of LGUs shall be based on ‘national taxes’ is already part of the Constitution because Section 6 of Article X of the present Constitution already so provides,” Carpio said.
“There is no need to amend the Constitution to institutionalize the Mandanas ruling,” he added.