Con-con urged in amending Charter-A A +A
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
MANILA (Updated 12:25 p.m.) -- An election lawyer said Tuesday that modifying the 1987 Constitution will happen if done through a constitutional convention (con-con) that will be composed of qualified individuals and representatives of political parties.
Romulo Macalintal, whose client includes Charter change (Cha-cha) supporter ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said doing it through a con-con will break the impasse of conflicting views on how to vote on any proposal under a constituent assembly.
The Constitution is silent on its provision under Section 1(1), Article XVII that “any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of its members.” Congress refers to both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Macalintal pushes for con-con as a way to amend the Charter.
Discussions on Charter change were revived following statements made by both Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on the issue.
Enrile and Belmonte reportedly prefer to have a constituent assembly in pushing for reforms such as total foreign ownership of land and bigger military allocation in the Charter.
Past debates on holding a bicameral constituent assembly, however, showed the congressmen wanted the vote to be done jointly with the senators, whose numbers pale in comparison.
There are over 280 congressmen as opposed to 23 senators. With this, the Senate earlier said that voting shall be “separately,” meaning each house should get the three-fourth of their respective members to validate an amendment of the Constitution.
Macalintal said the delegates should be appointed by the President and not elected. The law creating it may also give political parties the privilege to nominate their delegates on the basis of proportional representation from the parties accredited with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
In 1986, former President Corazon Aquino handpicked the individuals who drafted the present Constitution. This resulted in savings for the government as Macalintal said electing delegates will also be “too divisive” for the country.
The administration has been cool about Charter change but in the event the government would really push for this, it is best to do so while President Benigno Aquino III is in power because he is not interested to extend his term, Senator Edgardo Angara said.
He said the country can be assured that President Aquino has no interest in staying in power for more than one term, which ends in 2016.
While some legislators are pushing for Cha-cha to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, Angara, a former Senate president, urged Congress to consider changing the political structure.
"We have to empower the local government. We have to decentralize and transfer more control from the center, from Malacañang and Manila to the provinces. Our country will definitely grow," he said.
Angara further encouraged political parties to take a stand on Cha-cha in time for the midterm elections next year. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)