July 17, 2018 – Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers today rallied the people behind 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 all know that the 1987 Constitution is flawed; every flawed system should be reformed. This is one of the reasons why the country is still reeling from poverty,” Barbers said.
“The President’s political detractors do not want Charter change (Cha-cha) because they are not the ones in power. This Cha-cha is long overdue, and we all know that those who strongly oppose it have vested interests,” he stressed.
Barbers, chair of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said he believed that most Filipinos against the Cha-cha need to be enlightened on how this could lead to economic progress.
He said one such amendment would be the decentralization of power “from Imperial Manila to the local government units” to enable leaders of provinces, cities, and towns to dictate the phase of their progress.
“If we don’t want a political dynasty, then we should put that in the new Constitution. If we want to progress, then let’s open up the economy to more foreign investors. Let us also improve the qualifications for elective posts, like better education and experience in public service,” Barbers said.
The lawmaker likewise said there was a need to amend the Procurement Law which gives preference to the lowest bidder, not necessarily the best offer, to minimize corruption.
He said the political party system must be strengthened to do away with political butterflies or turncoats as proposed in his House Bill 7431, or the Anti-Turncoats Bill.
Barbers urged leaders of the House of Representatives to change the legislative calendar for the Third Regular Session to fast track deliberations on the 2019 proposed budget, Cha-cha Budget, and other significant bills.
The congressman wanted to have Monday to Saturday sessions for three weeks, with one week break so representatives can go home to their respective districts. As such, no member of Congress should be allowed to leave the country until all important bills shall have been acted upon by the end of the year, he said.
“We need to embark on an intensified public information campaign to educate the people about the advantages of Cha-cha and how Cha-cha would benefit them more,” Barbers said.
“Instead of criticizing the President, why not help in disseminating the right information about federalism to the people?” In fact, these critics should be the first to be informed because obviously, they are misinformed.”
Barbers said Filipinos are better off today than they were three years ago.
With measures like the Universal Health Coverage Bill and Free Higher Education Act, and the modernization of different government agencies like the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippines would be a few steps closer to achieving real progress, he further said.
Barbers asked the Senate to immediately act on timely and crucial legislations like the Death Penalty Law for drug-related crimes, and other important legislative measures that have passed the scrutiny of the House.
“The country was in a quagmire when the President took over, but he had everything figured out. His political will is what sets him apart from his predecessors,” he said
Barbers pointed out that no other president before Duterte were able to close down Boracay because of serious environmental concerns.
“Look at Boracay now! The grandeur is back! Now, more than ever is the perfect time to unite behind our President because we all can see the positive results,” Barbers said.
“It’s just a shame that his detractors have nothing better to offer than throw a monkey wrench into the clockworks,” he added. #