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Constitutional change pushed, debates on

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(Photo from Philippine Star)


QUEZON CITY — Lawmakers led by Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte’s second district has filed a resolution calling Congress to constitute itself into a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution and consider a new form of government, a federal system as espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte.


Others led by outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon and incoming Senate leader Aquilino Pimentel II and incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, however, want a constitutional commission whose members are elected to do the job.


Former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has also her own bill pushed for amendments to the constitution of 1987.


In the resolution, Barbers called on his fellow legislators to consider adopting the Constitutionally-allowed means of revising the Constitution, that of constituting Congress into a Constituent Assembly, and said that it is less divisive and cost-effective.


He said that the 1987 Constitution allows but two methods for revision, either through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) where delegates are to be elected nationwide, or through a Constituent Assembly (ConAss), where Congress through its “constituent power” constitutes itself into a body and perform the task of revising the Constitution.


ConCon is being supported by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon and a host of congressmen and senators.


“In both cases, however, the end product will still need the ratification by the Filipino people through a plebiscite. It is still up to the people if they want to accept the new Constitution or reject it,” Barbers explained.


He said that people’s initiative is only allowed in cases of amending the Constitution.


“Amendment pertains to certain provisions only of the Constitution while revision pertains to reviewing, changing and replacing the entire Constitution or any of its parts,” he said.


The Surigao del Norte lawmaker said that the advantage of ConAss is that there is no need for another costly and divisive national elections.


Since the Constitution itself, as ratified by the people, allows ConAss, Congress will not be in bad faith if it adopts this method, he said.


“Considering further that in case of ConCon elections, local politicians will be suspected of fielding their proxies just the same, so the same perceived doubt and mistrust will still overshadow the ConCon. So if you analyze it, there is really no difference in terms of the feared perception of the people whether you adopt ConAss or ConCon,” Barbers said.

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