CAMARINES Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., who first broached the idea of commissioning experts to distill proposed changes to the Constitution for Congress to consider, yesterday said their recommendations can still be harvested by Congress without having to form them into a group.
“If President Duterte does not want to form that group, then nothing prevents the House from benefitting from the wisdom of these experts. There are many ways by which their views can be gathered,” Andaya said.
“We can ask them to appear before the House. We can request for their position papers. They can send us memorandums. And then we consolidate all of this into a report,” Andaya said.
“Kung ito ang submission ni ex-Chief Justice, ilagay natin sa report. Kung ito ang rekomendasyon ni former Senate President, isama natin. Then let us make a matrix of their proposals to guide us and make this available to the people,” he said.
“The important thing is for us to act as a listening House. How can we be enlightened if what we are hearing are our own voices? Talk less, listen more. Because if the Batasan becomes an echo chamber, then we won’t be able to hear the voices of the citizens and the views of experts,” he said.
But for such public consultations to be effective and credible, “even contrarian views must be solicited,” Andaya said. “It should be open-mike season. Kahit wala ang kanta mo sa song list, dapat okay lang.”
“We want to hear the bad things as well, so we will know the pitfalls, the things which must be avoided. Because you know, revising the Charter is the world’s hardest editing job. In the face of this, we need all the help we can get,” Andaya said.
On Sunday, Andaya called for clear parameters in amending the Constitution so it will not end up as a “free-for-all in which all parts of the Constitution are open to tinkering.”
He said the formation of a study group could lead to the establishment of “pre-set agenda” so amending the almost three-decade-old Constitution will “not veer off topic.”