‘More Filipinos to oppose Charter change through Con-Ass’
More Filipinos would oppose Charter change if Congress insisted on amending the 1987 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), solons from the minority bloc said Tuesday.
During their weekly press briefing at the House of Representatives, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the margin of 44 percent of Filipinos who do not want Charter change would only widen if Congress would push for Con-Ass to amend the Constitution.
According to the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted from July 2 to 8, at least 44 percent of 1,200 respondents surveyed do not want Charter change. On the other hand, 37 percent said they think the Constitution should be amended while 19 percent remain undecided.
“Kaya 44% may ayaw, ibig sabihin hindi pa naiintindihan. At lalong lalaki itong percentage na ito na a-ayaw sa Cha-cha kung ipagpipilitang i-railroad ng Kongreso ito sa pamamagitan ng constitutional commission at constituent assembly,” Erice said.
(The 44% who don’t want [Charter change] don’t understand it. And this percentage would widen if the Congress would force it to railroad through Constitutional Commission and Constituent Assembly)
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez suggested the formation of a 20-member constitutional commission composed of experts to propose a draft for Congress to consider in overhauling the Charter.
The minority bloc instead proposed a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) mode of Charter change, whereby delegates are elected in a costly elections to represent the people in amending the Charter.
Duterte had said he preferred Con-Ass, where Congress would convene to propose amendments, because it would be cheaper than Con-Con, which would cost government some P6 to P7 billion.
“Naniniwala po ako na kung Constitutional Convention, kung saan ihahalal ng mga mamamayan yung mga magiging delegado, magkakaroon ng mga delegado na i-di-discuss yung mga issues direkta sa mga mamamayan,” Erice said.
(I believe that through Constitutional Convention, people would elect delegates whereby these delegates would discuss issues directly to the people.)
Critics slammed Duterte’s proposal of leaving Charter change in the hands of Congress through Constitutional Assembly, warning of vested interests of political dynasties.
For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Filipinos are wary of Charter change because of the possibility of lifting term limits of elected officials and easing the nationalist provisions restricting foreign ownership.
“Ang agam agam na yan, mas rarami kung Con-Ass ang paraan ng pag-amyenda ng Constitution (The worry is through Con-Ass, there would be more ways to amend the Constitution),” Lagman said.
Lagman also noted the significant margin of Filipinos who do not want Charter change despite the high trust rating of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose legislative agenda includes federalism and the restoration of death penalty.
Lagman said the Pulse Asia survey showing 44 percent of Filipinos do not want Charter change conveyed a lesson for Congress of the need for a constructive minority, that would question the Constitutional Assembly method of amending the Charter for a shift to federal from a unitary form of government.
“Ano ba ang implication ng mataas na trust rating ng ating Pangulo pero may 44 percent na hindi sumasang-ayon sa Pangulo (What is the implication that our President has a high trust rating but there are 44% of Filipinos who disagree with him)? This is giving leaders in Congress a lesson na kailangang may dissent dito sa Kongreso (that there should be a dissent in Congress), constructive dissent that makes our democracy alive. That is the lesson of the 44 percent,” Lagman said.
“Kahit na 91% ang trust rating ng Pangulo, huwag tayo matakot (Even if the President’s trust rating is 91%, let us not be scared). Let us not be discouraged in making critical comments on the direction of the present administration,” Lagman said.
Lagman and Erice are members of the minority bloc led by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., a Liberal Party member whom the bloc sees as its leader instead of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who also led a contingent of lawmakers considering themselves as minority solons.
While the Baguilat-bloc insists that they are the legitimate minority because they are led by Baguilat, the second placer in the Speakership race, the Suarez-bloc insists that minority members should elect their minority leader. Suarez won that election.
The minority bloc comprises lawmakers who did not vote for the winning speaker in the House of Representatives. RAM/rga
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