SURIGAO del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Wednesday rallied public support for the Duterte Administration and urged critics to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution instead of attacking efforts to change the course of the country.
“We know very well that the 1987 Constitution is flawed; every flawed system should be reformed dahil maaaring isa ito sa mga kadahilanan kung bakit patuloy na naghihirap ang ating bansa. Ayaw nila ng Cha-cha ngayon dahil hindi partido nila ang mga naka-upo. Matagal nang dapat nabago ang Saligang Batas, ngunit maraming tutol sapagkat sarili lang nila ang kanilang iniisip,” said Barbers.
(We know very well that the 1987 Constitution is flawed; every flawed system should be reformed because it may be one of the reasons why the country continues to suffer. They don’t like Cha-cha now because their party is not in power. The Constitution was supposed to have been amended a long time ago, but many are opposed because they only think of themselves.)
Barbers, who chairs the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, also said that it is possible that majority of Filipinos oppose charter change simply because they do not understand how charter change could bring forth positive outcomes.
He cited as example the need for decentralization of power from Imperial Manila to the local government units if reform and development should be provided in the new charter.
“If we don’t want political dynasty, we need to spell this out in the new Constitution. If we want the country to prosper, we have to open our economy to foreign investors. We need to add qualifications for elected leaders like education and experience in leadership. Moreover, we need to amend the Procurement Law to minimize corruption, wherein we are always fixed to the lowest bidder that does not necessarily mean it is for the best interest of the nation. Lastly, we need to change and promulgate our political party system to avoid the spread of political butterflies like what I mentioned in House Bill 7431,” said Barbers.
“If there is enough knowledge in Charter Change, it would be more favorable to most of our countrymen, especially when they learn its good benefits to the economy. That is why instead of criticizing the President, why not help in spreading information about federalism?” Barbers added.
The lawmaker further said that Filipinos are better off today than they were three years ago. With legislations like the Universal Health Coverage Bill and the Free Higher Education Act and the modernization of different government agencies, such as the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Barbers said that the Philippines is a few steps closer to achieving true progress.
Incidentally, according to Barbers, achieving true progress means that the Senate should pass timely and crucial legislations like the Death Penalty Law for drug-related crimes and other important legislations that have passed the scrutiny of the House but are gathering dust in the Senate.
“The country was in a quagmire when he took office, but President Duterte has everything figured out. His political will is what sets him apart from his predecessors. Imagine, sino’ng presidente ang nakapag-pasara ng Boracay? Hindi ba’t alam naman nating lahat na kailangan talagang i-rehabilitate ang naturang lugar? Ngunit walang gumawa – si Digong lang!” he said.
(Imagine, which president closed Boracay? Isn’t it that we all know that the place needs to be rehabilitated? But no one acted–only Digong did!)
Barbers continued, “And look at Boracay now! Tunay na bumalik sa dati niyang ganda! (The beauty of the island was really restore) That is why, now is the perfect time to unite behind our President, dahil maganda ang nakikita nating bunga ng kanyang paghihirap. (because his efforts are bearing fruit) It’s just a shame that his detractors have nothing better to do than throw a monkey wrench into the clockworks.”
Barbers also proposed to the House leadership that the legislative calendar be changed for the Third Regular Session in order to fasttrack and tackle the 2019 budget, charter change and other important legislations.
“I propose to have Monday to Saturday sessions, three weeks in a month, straight, with one week break to allow the representatives to go home to their respective districts. Wala munang aalis ng bansa until December this year until we finish all these legislations,” Barbers said.