Gatchalian tells Congress: Produce realistic timetable for Charter change
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged both chambers of Congress on Monday to present a “realistic and workable timetable” for Charter change and assure that the May 2019 national and local elections would not be halted.
Gatchalian noted that based on Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s pronouncements last week, the two leaders would start to lay the groundwork for discussions on the Charter change once the session resumes on January 15.
This revision of the 1987 Constitution, Gatchalian said, would pave the way for the country’s possible shift to a federal form of government.
“But they first need to produce the timetable, a realistic and workable one, to get us going,” he pointed out.
“Essentially, I want to meticulously look into its details since the idea of federalism being floated over the news is still broad. We need to be clear with the details and not rush the process,” he added.
Gatchalian also said that any timetable proposing the postponement or cancellation of the scheduled May 2019 national and local elections would be “unacceptable.”
“The democratic functions of our government should not be put on hold for any reason, not even for Charter change. The May 2019 elections must go ahead as scheduled,” the senator explained.
Last week, stalwarts of the ruling party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), announced that they would urge Congress to convene in a Constituent Assembly (ConAss).
They said this is a cheaper and practical approach compared to a separate election of delegates to form a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), which would cost the government an estimated P7 billion.
With the looming ConAss, Gatchalian believed that the Senate and House of Representatives should respect each other’s independence and start with their own deliberations on the proposed amendments.
“We should observe checks and balances as co-equal chambers of Congress, and therefore separate voting on the draft Constitution should no longer be put into question,” Gatchalian said. /je
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