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House body OK’s Charter change through con-con

THE INAUGURAL session of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 — OFFICIALGAZETTE.GOV.PH

A HOUSE committee on Monday approved a measure calling for changes to the 1987 Philippine Charter through a constitutional convention.

Seventeen members of the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments voted yes, three said no, while one abstained.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, who heads the committee, said the resolution on amending the constitution is the panel’s “general statement.”

Under a constitutional convention, Filipinos will elect delegates from each legislative district who will be tasked to amend the Constitution.

A constitutional convention is considered to be the “most transparent, exhaustive and democratic and the least divisive means of implementing constitutional reforms.”

The other modes of Charter change is through a constituent assembly composed of senators and congressmen and through a people’s initiative.

Proposed changes must be ratified by a majority vote in a national referendum.

There have been several high-profile attempts to change the 1987 Constitution, but these have all failed.

During the House committee’s morning session, National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Krystal Lyn T. Uy said holding a separate national election and plebiscite for a constitutional convention would cost P28 billion. It will cost P231 million If done simultaneously with village elections.

 Assistant Minority Leader Arlene D. Brosas, one of the lawmakers who voted no to the measure, told the committee the “current and urgent problems that we are facing — escalating prices, low wages, massive hunger, joblessness and landlessness — do not stem from the 1987 Constitution.”

Before the resolution was approved, the House body held seven public consultations, including out-of-town hearings in Cagayan De Oro, Iloilo, Bulacan and Pampanga.

Mr. Rodriguez said 65% of resource persons from the in-house hearings and 93% from out-of-town hearings supported Charter change. He added that 52% of consultants from in-house meetings and 43% from out-of-town consultations had favored changes through a constitutional convention.

At Monday’s hearing, former Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno proposed a “hybrid” constitutional convention where half of the delegates will be elected, while the other half will be appointed. 

Mr. Puno said the traditional way of holding a constitutional convention has a “lurking danger that the elected delegates to the constitutional convention… will just be proxies or factotums of political dynasties and economic oligarchs.”

The panel that will decide on the appointees should come from both the executive and legislative branches, he said.

“The power to appoint these experts will not be monopolized by the Executive,” he said, noting that the hybrid model has been used in other countries. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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