LEADERS and members of the House of Representatives are for Charter change amended via a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), according to the Deputy Speakers.
In the weekly forum Ugnayan sa Batasan, Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Raneo Abu of Batangas and Romero Quimbo of Marikina appealed to the people and critics to allow Congress to amend the Constitution, assuring them that vested and personal interests will be set aside.
Abu is proposing extended hours for the lawmakers to focus on Charter change aside from doing their regular legislative tasks.
Abu said solons can deliberate on important measures from Monday to Wednesday and can sit as Con-Ass from Thursday to Saturday.
On the other hand, Castro proposed that members of Congress function as lawmakers in the morning and tackle the amendments to the Constitution in the afternoon or vice versa.
“Huwag naman kaming i-judge. We can work on important issues. Nandiyan ang mga lawmakers kapag kailangan. Interested ang mga lawmakers sa Charter change,” Castro stressed.
The Deputy Speakers were responding to the critics who are saying that Congress cannot be trusted to amend the Constitution due to vested interests.
Earlier, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will propose to President Rodrigo Duterte the creation of a Constitutional Commission composed of 20 law experts who will draft the amendments and submit it to Congress.
Abu said that what is needed is proper time management for Congress to work on amending the Charter and passing pertinent pieces of legislation.
Quimbo added that Congress may use its time wisely to amend the charter if it extends its work hours by meeting on Thursday and Friday for the committee meetings.
“Quorum is always a challenge. Panahon na rin para pakilusin ang mga tamad na congressman,” Quimbo said.
Leni for Con-Con
For Vice President Leni Robredo the Constitution should be overhauled through Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).
While Robredo respects President Rodrigo Duterte’s preference for Con-Ass to amend the Charter, she said it is better if other law experts and not the members of Congress undertake the task.
Duterte upon learning of the huge cost of Con-Con had a change of heart and now prefers Con-Ass as a mode of revising the decades-old Constitution.
Under Con-Ass, the members of Senate and House of Representatives will convene themselves into an assembly to work out the amendments.
On the other hand, Con-Con will be composed of elected delegates who will study and re-write the Constitution.
According to Robredo,a lawyer by profession, people’s participation is needed in amending the Constitution.
“Ang Con-Ass, parang over and above ito sa regular duties ng members ng Congress. Ako sa akin ideally, Con-Con ang gusto ko. Pero naiintindihan ko kasi ang reservations ng ating Pangulo na ’pag Con-Con malaking budget ang kinakailangan,” she said.
Robredo agreed with the plan of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to recommend to President Duterte the creation through Executive Order of a 20-man Constitutional Commission that will draft the amendments and then submit them to Congress for concurrence.