Voting 32-7 with three abstentions, members of the House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments approved yesterday the plan to create a constituent assembly or con-ass as the mode of amending the 1987 Constitution and shifting to a federal system of government.
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House body OKs con-ass for Cha-cha
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 32-7 with three abstentions, members of the House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments approved yesterday the plan to create a constituent assembly or con-ass as the mode of amending the 1987 Constitution and shifting to a federal system of government.

“The results of the voting show that the committee approves the concurrent resolution calling Congress as a constituent assembly for purposes of revising the Constitution,” panel chairman Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado announced.

Initial voting was held viva voce, but House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas – who was seated beside Mercado practically the whole time – suggested that lawmakers in favor or against the measure should stand up for an easy and more efficient count.

Two lawmakers from former president Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party – Reps. Henedina Abad of Batanes and Kaka Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands – manifested that while they were for Charter change, they still preferred the more costly mode of constitutional convention (con-con).

Abad, wife of former budget secretary Florencio who served in the previous administration, wanted a more thorough study and a multisectoral consultation among all concerned stakeholders before the presidential system is changed.

During the hearing, it was also agreed that a technical working group would be created and tasked to incorporate into one all of the pending resolutions for con-ass, including those authored by Reps. Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental and Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte. 

The two lawmakers filed their con-ass bills even before President Duterte changed his mind, from the original con-con – which he complained would cost about P7 billion – to con-ass, where an executive order will designate constitutionalists to introduce the changes.

House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, who moved for the approval of the con-ass motion, defended the process by which their colleagues have approved the measure.

Garcia said the committee followed the proper procedure and the proposal was not railroaded.

The Cebu lawmaker also refuted critics’ claims that they do not have the power to make changes to the law of the land, noting that while Cha-cha was not among the promises they made during the campaign, there never was a claim to do otherwise.

“One position does not bind you to the other,” Garcia stressed.

“Yes, we didn’t run and we were not elected because we promised to change the Constitution, but we also did not say that we will never change the Constitution. By supporting President Duterte, it goes without saying that I supported his platform of government (including federalism). Therefore, I am fulfilling the very mandate which my constituents have conferred me with,” she said.

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, chairman of the House committee on public order and safety, agreed with Garcia, adding that if his colleagues have a problem with his decision, then they better check with his constituents.

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza expressed objection to the move of the Mercado committee.

“This is a serious breach of our contract with the electorate. This goes against our core principles. This is not the manner of revising the Constitution,” he said.

 

CONSTITUTION
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