Con-con delegates also vulnerable to vested interests, Alvarez warns
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Tuesday warned that delegates who would be elected for the constitutional convention (con-con) may also be bankrolled by people with vested interests.
He warned about the vulnerability of a con-con to vested interests in a television interview over ANC’s Head Start on Tuesday, in reaction to criticisms that the constituent assembly (con-ass), his preferred mode of charter change, is vulnerable to abuse.
He said the election of delegates who would amend the charter is not a guarantee that they are the right people to totally revise the Constitution.
“If we are afraid that some congressmen are incompetent to amend or to do the revision of our present constitution, electing delegates to the constitutional convention is not a guarantee that we will be electing the right people,” Alvarez said.
Under a con-con mode of charter change, delegates would be elected to represent the people in amending the charter.
Because con-con would cost government some P6 to P7 billion, President Rodrigo Duterte said he preferred a con-ass, under which Congress would convene to propose amendments in the charter.
Critics warned that political clans and business groups in Congress would use charter change to push for vested interests, such as lifting the term limits and easing the foreign ownership restrictions in the 1987 Constitution.
Alvarez said just like regular elections, delegates may also be bankrolled by business personalities with vested interests.
“This problem will not be addressed by electing delegates to the convention because itong mga (these) moneyed people, businessmen pwedeng magsuporta ng kandidato to be elected ‘yung kanilang kandidato (may support their preferred candidate), to be elected as delegates to the convention. Kaya wala rin eh (So, it’s pointless),” Alvarez said.
“Will the delegates to be elected in the convention also be guided by common good if they will be financed by businessmen also ‘yung elections nila (as well as their elections)? Let’s face it, [in] all elections you need money to win,” he added.
Alvarez said instead of pushing for an election of delegates, a constitutional commission composed of 20 experts should be formed to aid Congress in drafting a new constitution.
Alvarez had proposed to President Duterte to issue an executive order for the formation of a constitutional commission to allay fears in con-ass.
Alvarez said he would pitch the following constitutional law experts to be members of the constitutional commission–former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., lawyer Reuben Canoy, Dean of San Beda Law School Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, and representatives from non-governmental organizations, the academe, and other sectors of society.
“My solution is address this competency issue, the president better appoint members of this commission, siguro (perhaps a) council of wise men, hindi naman lahat (not all of them are) elders eh,” Alvarez said.
In pushing for con-con, minority solon Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the government should not be too thrifty in such a significant initiative as entirely revising the constitution.
“Huwag tayong magtipid (Let’s not scrimp). Let us appropriate and spend the requisite funding for a genuine charter change,” Lagman said.
In reaction to Alvarez’s claim that delegates are also vulnerable to vested interests, Lagman said the proliferation of vested interests in Congress is a reality.
“Hindi mo talaga maaalis ang (You really can’t remove) vested interests. Congress as a constituent assembly, or sa (in the) constitutional convention, talagang mayroon dyan (there really are vested interests). The apprehension on vested interests sa (in the) constitutional convention is a contingent apprehension. Vested interest sa Kongreso (in the Congress) is an actuality,” Lagman said. CDG
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