There is no bad timing for reforms

There is no bad timing for reforms Featured

Regarding your editorial today on Charter change (“Now is not the time for Charter change,” The Manila Times, July 22, 2020), I can only say that there is never a bad time for a good idea, especially one opposed by so many vested interests, for whom timing will always be an excuse.

I don’t dispute the utmost importance of pending bills related to the pandemic and economic recovery, i.e., the General Appropriations Act, Bayanihan 2, Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy bill, and Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act, as you cited. Because they are urgent, we have a right to expect Congress to focus all its attention on them and send them out, say, by the yearend. Otherwise the sick patient may already be dead.

But what about next year? The 18th Congress isn’t even halfway through its three-year term from 2019. That leaves them enough time to move on to other important legislation.

Let’s give them more credit for being able to work as hard as the public interest may demand.

This other legislation won’t be Charter change, as you’ve mistakenly called it. We’re talking only about specific constitutional reforms about which there is already a working consensus between some House committees and the executive department.

Two of them — constitutionalizing the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling and relaxing restrictions on foreign direct investment — have thankfully won the support of the country’s mayors. This isn’t surprising.

It’s our local governments, after all, who were unavoidably on the frontlines of disaster relief during the lockdown. It is they who will require the additional fiscal resources promised by the Mandanas ruling, as well as the additional foreign investment, in order to continue to carry out their frontline duties as well as generate the jobs needed to absorb Balik Probinsya relocators and homebound overseas Filipino workers, among others.

To further bolster the fiscal transfers envisioned by Mandanas, the Constitutional Reform Movement also pushes a couple of other reforms not mentioned by the mayors. One is to revise the current Internal Revenue Allotment formula so that smaller and poorer local government units are given their just share. Another is to empower the regional development councils to bridge the distance between national and local governments.

We’ve already seen how too much distance interfered with the proper delivery of relief and other public services during the lockdown.

There is no bad timing for reforms such as this. If not now (this year), then later (next year), but certainly not never.

Gary Olivar
Vice President
Constitutional Reform (CoRe) Movement000
Read 1622 times Last modified on Thursday, 23 July 2020 12:42
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