LET the debates begin.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon thus announced the start next week of the deliberation on the proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution.
Drilon, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, said his panel is set to conduct its first public hearing on the proposed measure revising the Charter on Dec. 8, a week after the enactment of the 2017 national budget.
“This committee understands the importance of this undertaking in the agenda of the current administration so we will ensure that it is given the utmost priority,” he said.
“We will hear all views and opinions of the various sectors on these issues,” said Drilon.
The panel has invited resource persons from various sectors including the business community, labor, academe, civil society, sectoral and religious groups, respected constitutional and legal experts as well as former Supreme Court justices.
Among them are former Chief Justices Hilario Davide Jr., Reynato Puno and Artemio Panganiban; former Supreme Court associate justices Adolfo Azcuna, Antonio Nachura, and Vicente Mendoza; constitutional experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Christian Monsod; and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.
Drilon also invited some members of the Cabinet including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Makati Business Club chairman Ramon Del Rosario Jr., among others.
He reiterated his commitment to making the process of amending and revising the Constitution “thorough, consultative and transparent.”
He said the initial hearing would focus on the key issue: Is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution? Why or why not?
“If so, what parts of the Constitution should be amended or revised? Why?” asked Drilon.
He wants to know whether the amendments or revision would be proposed by a constitutional convention (Con-con) or by Congress itself acting as a constituent assembly.
Drilon wondered: “If the Congress convenes as a constituent assembly (Con-ass) for the purpose of amending or revising the Constitution, should the Senate and the House of Representatives vote jointly or separately?”
“All these must be and will be thoroughly considered, guided by the principle that the vehicle we choose must be democratic, participatory, and inclusive,” he said.