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Rody defends con-ass; House eyes con-com

Duterte said it is time to revisit the 1987 Constitution and make it viable to the present time. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte yesterday defended Charter change and constituent assembly (con-ass) as a mode of changing the Constitution for the shift from the presidential system to a federal-parliamentary form of government.

Duterte said it is time to revisit the 1987 Constitution and make it viable to the present time.

He also explained that con-ass is the more practical mode for Charter change because a constitutional convention (con-con) would be very costly.

Under the 1987 Constitution, there are three modes to amend the Charter: con-con, con-ass and people’s initiative.

Duterte dropped his original plan to convene a con-con because it is very expensive, since the members will have to be elected by the people.

He opted to convene a con-ass wherein incumbent lawmakers will craft a new Charter. 

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“That was my first position… I thought that a constitutional convention would be more in keeping with the constitutional promise that the people would really believe in and would trust,” Duterte said.

Duterte also said he got the approval of former presidents for Charter change during last week’s National Security Council meeting.

“It’s time to revisit the Constitution. It’s time to rethink how we look at things. We have different presentations… same wording, everything is the same, due process, human rights, these are automatic. Maybe just a thing or two about the economic prosperity of this nation, so therefore you need to reconfigure the distribution of shares,” he explained.

“Bring a Constitution that would serve the Filipino at this time of his life… I do not promise heaven or pure happiness to them. But I can promise you, perhaps, if I succeed, a comfortable life for all,” he added.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the House of Representatives is contemplating forming a constitutional commission or con-com that will review and introduce amendments to the Constitution.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the administrative body may be the solution to the doubts of the public on resorting tocon-ass for the shift from presidential to a federal-parliamentary form of government. 

“I think what we can do is this (constitutional commission), but I have yet to propose this to President Duterte. I will ask him if he can issue an executive order (for the creation of) a constitutional commission. And this may comprise about 20 persons,” he explained.

He also said the President can appoint constitutional experts from academe and non-governmental organizations to the commission.

Alvarez suggested that the Duterte administration may also tap the expertise of retired chief justice Reynato Puno who is an expert on constitutional law, San Beda College of Law dean Ranhilio Aquino and former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. 

“They can be tasked to study and review, and even make a draft for a new Charter which they can submit to the constituent assembly which, in turn, can discuss them in plenary via debates and approve them if necessary,” he explained.

Alvarez said he sees no legal impediment to the creation of a constitutional commission through an executive order as it is still Congress, acting as con-ass, that will discuss and approve the proposed charter change.  Christina Mendez, Delon Porcalla

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