Sens. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino and Grace Poe said that they preferred charter change to be done through a constitutional convention.
Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, File
Aquino, Poe prefer ConCon in changing Constitution
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - January 11, 2018 - 2:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Changing the Constitution through a constitutional convention will ensure the integrity and transparency of the process and prevent politicians from adding "self-serving" provisions in the new charter, two senators said on Thursday.

Both Sens. Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino and Grace Poe believe that changing the Constitution should be done through a constitutional convention which would entail the election of delegates from the country's legislative districts who would be tasked to draft a new chapter.

Aquino and Poe think that holding a constitutional convention would ensure that experts would be debating on the provisions of the new chapter and remove politicians, who may have self-serving interests, in the process.

"I'm partial to concon (constitutional convention), and this was my resolution before to ensure that there will be no self-serving provisions to extend ourselves, extend terms, take away term limits, take away safeguards to the Constitution," Aquino said in Filipino in an interview with ANC.

"If no politician will decide on this, the public will say that no provision is self-serving," he added.

Aquino said that holding a constitutional convention and holding a clean and transparent election of delegates would preserve the public's trust in the efforts to replace the 1987 Charter.

Poe meanwhile said that the extent of the proposed changes to the Constitution, which the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte want to lead to a shift to a federal form of government, should warrant a constitutional convention, saying this is the "best and most acceptable" mode even if this seems impractical to some.

"In a concon, revisions to the highest law of the land is tackled with transparency, debated upon by the experts, and shall be decided ultimately by the people and not just those in Congress," Poe said in a separate statement.

READ: Pimentel: Senate, House to vote separately on Constitution changes

The 1987 Constitution prescribes three modes of changing the charter. Aside from a constitutional convention and a people's initiative, a constituent assembly can also be called to proposed amendments to the charter.

In a constituent assembly, no elections will be held as lawmakers in the House and the Senate will act as the writers of the new Constitution, making it cheaper and supposedly more efficient.

However, critics of constituent assembly say that this is more susceptible to influence-peddling by politicians who have ulterior motives in amending the Constitution.

Aquino and Poe said that should Congress decide to use a constituent assembly, senators would stress that voting on the provisions of the Constitution should be done separately.

"If it’s a con-ass, will it be, obviously I think we’re going to push for voting separately and we won’t allow voting jointly situation to happen. In the Constitution, the Constitution is silent about this, and it will probably take maybe the Supreme Court to come up and say it’s actually voting jointly or voting separately," Aquino said.

He said that acquiescing to a joint voting would amount to the castration of the Senate as an institution as it would be silenced and outvoted by the numerically-superior House.

Although not his primary preference, a constituent assembly allowing a separate voting by the Senate and the House would ensure that the people would trust the process.

Poe said that joint voting would "obliterate the relevance of the entire Senate" by the 300-member lower house and underscored that this should be rejected.

"I support the position of Sen. Ping Lacson that the bicameral congress should vote separately as was actually intended by the framers of the charter," she said, just hours after Lacson announced that he was planning to file a resolution that would call on the Senate to convene into a constituent assembly, separate from the House of Representatives.

CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
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