Notwithstanding the fact that there are more legislative proposals calling for the convening of a Constitutional Convention to revise the 1987 Constitution, the House Committee on Constitutional Reform chose Constituent Assembly as the mode of pursuing Charter change.
Putting the two sets of proposals to a vote, the House panel agreed to submit House Concurrent Resolution No. 9 for plenary deliberations, with its members pointing out that Con-Ass is preferred because it is “deemed the most expeditions, open, and the least costly among the modes of revising the 30-year-old Charter.”
HCR 9 consolidates 29 various bills and resolutions calling for the immediate amendment of the 1987 Constitution which was passed under a revolutionary government.
Coincidentally, writing an entirely new Constitution under a revolutionary set up is being pushed by groups allied with the Duterte administration.
House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, together with Reps. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (LP, Quezon City); Alfredo “Albee” Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental); Henry Oaminal (PDP-Laban, Misamis Orirental), and Aurelio D. Gonzales (NP, Pampanga) were joined by Deputy Minority Leader Eugene de Vera in urging Congress to convene into a Con-Ass.
On the other hand, among the proponents of a Con-Con are Reps. Edgar Mary Sarmiento (LP, Western Samar); Arthur Defensor Jr. (PDP-Laban, Iloilo); Salvio Fortuno (LP, Camarines Sur); Gwendolyn Garcia (PDP-Laban, Cebu); and Sabiniano Canama (Coop Nattco party-list) and Anthony Bravo (Coop Nattco partylist).
Former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo prefers Con-Con in two measures she filed, House Bill 486 and HCR 1 which she co-authored with Surigao del Norte Rep. Propspero Pichay Jr.
However, in HCR 4, Mrs. Arroyo called for the Senate and the House of Representatives to constitute themselves into a Con-Ass in order to tinker with the Charter.
In its committee report, the committee stressed that members of Congress should be given the responsibility of amending the 1987 Charter because they “represent the diverse sectors of society” and are expected to have the “capacity to introduce sound and timely amendments to the Constitution.”
“The clamor and sentiment from a broad cross-section of society seeking a review of certain provisions in the 29-year-old Philippine Constitution, to make it more attuned and responsive to the demands of present conditions and economic realities, have not only been sustained but affirmed with the overwhelming victory of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who stood on a platform for a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government,” the panel stated.
De Vera and Gonzales have filed a resolution that already contained the proposed draft for a federal system of government.
De Vera aired confidence that the proposed Con-Ass will draw strong support in the Senate and House, saying that this mode of Charter revision will save government billions of pesos in funds as compared to a Con-Con. (Ben R. Rosario)