PRESIDENT Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will create a commission tasked at reviewing the 1987 Constitutions and evaluate the proposal for its amendment.

On Thursday, Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga, 2nd district) filed a resolution that seeks to amend the Charter via constitutional convention.

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In an interview at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo Friday, Aquino said the commission would look into the concerns of those pushing for Charter change.

“Suriin natin kung may pangangailangan na palitan ang Saligang Batas dahil hindi ito biro. May negative consequences guaranteed in the short term. So dapat patunayan mo na the gains are better than the risks,” he said.

He added that he is not yet certain about the details of the new Commission, citing the focus of his administration for now is reviewing the fiscal situation of the country.

“Andami talaga kailangan gawin sabay-sabay and the first priority is reviewing our fiscal situation. Ano pa ang natitira sa kaban ng bayan para panustos sa ating mga pangangailangan.”

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino may call on his allies in Congress to shut down efforts to amend the Constitution if he finds it untimely and unnecessary.

Bishops’ reaction

The Catholic Church on Friday scored Arroyo for filing a resolution calling for the amendments of the Constitution.

“It is beyond common sense that on the first day of her incumbency she would file a resolution before the House of Representatives for a Charter change,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said.

“The only conclusion that can be logically drawn from this audacity par excellence is that the lady simply cannot let go of power and cannot be either calmed or cooled,” he added.

But Cruz said he is not surprised with Arroyo’s move especially since there were talks that the former president is eyeing the prime minister post in the event the country will have a parliamentary form of government.

"The truth of the matter is that this plan is not actually new and only strange that it would be her first act supported even by a son before the legislature,” the prelate said.

Like Cruz, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the filling of Cha-cha is very untimely.

“This is not yet the time to talk about that. There is a need to bolster the trust of the people in the government first before we can talk about Cha-cha,” he said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

Father Joaquin Bernas also agreed with Pabillo saying any move to change the Charter should be done in 2011.

“I would say that the earliest should be 2011 because involving getting a constitutional convention would mean another national election and we just had an election recently. It can be very expensive process plus people are still distracted,” he said.

Arroyo is pushing for cha-cha in order to ensure that she will not be charged on the cases filed against her by party list group Bayan Muna before the Department of Justice.

Peace talks

Meanwhile, the Aquino administration started the search for the members of its peace negotiating panels that will handle the talks with the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Aquino said Peace Adviser Teresita Deles has started the process of reviewing the status of peace negotiations with the different armed groups.

“Iyun ang sinusuri ngayon at hinahanap natin ang mga negotiators not only for the NPA but for the others,” he said. (JMR/MSN/Sunnex)