"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Monday, February 02, 2009

Gordon reaffirms pledge to protect and defend Charter




Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today reaffirmed his sworn duty to protect and defend the country's 22-year-old Constitution against any moves by some quarters to amend or revise it before the 2010 national elections.

Gordon made the statement during the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc.'s (VPCI) celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the 1987 Philippine Constitution at the Manila Hotel where the senator was guest of honor and keynote speaker.

"I did not vote for this Constitution. I campaigned against it. But I have taken several oaths of office under this Constitution, and I will die protecting and defending the precepts, the principles of this Constitution," he said.

"That is what we lawyers are for. We are men of the law and therefore no matter whether you disagree with something, there must be closure the Constitution was properly voted for. I may not have agreed with the process, but nonetheless it is our Constitution and we must honor it," he added.

Gordon reiterated his position that the Constitution should only be amended after the 2010 elections to dispel public suspicions that the initiative would be used to extend the term of incumbent public officials.

He noted that previous Constitutions were amended with the agenda of extending the incumbent president's term and thus, resulting to a "Charter of the President" rather than a "Constitution of the People."

"I am against any changes in the Constitution while the incumbent president is in office simply because our people seem to have learned their lessons from presidents who tried to amend the Constitution as (Manuel) Quezon and (Ferdinand) Marcos did to extend their term," he said.

"From then on, every time there was an effort to amend the Constitution, people will always have the belief that it is only being amended not for the national interest, not for the common good, but for the individual interest of the President concerned," he added.

Gordon, who served as the youngest delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention of the Philippines, also said that the Charter should be revised by the elected lawmakers of the Senate and the House of Representatives sitting as delegates of a Constitutional Convention.

He filed Senate Joint Resolution 20, which calls for a Constitutional Convention after the May 2010 elections with the newly-elected members of the 15th Congress as its delegates.

Gordon said his proposal is the most efficient way to propose amendments to the Charter as it will save on public funds that would be spent if there would be a separate election of delegates to the constitutional convention.

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