THE INCOMING Speaker of the House of Representatives has proposed to limit the number of delegates to a Constitutional Convention or Con-Con to just 100 to avoid lengthy debates, and to produce a new Charter after just one year of deliberations.
Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday joined Senate President Franklin Drilon’s push for a Con-Con but said the process of over hauling the 29-year-old Constitution should not take more than a year.
“`Wag na nating patagalin at `wag na marami pang debate. Mayroon tayong timetable para i-submit ang revisions sa ating Saligang Batas [Let’s not drag it on and engage in too many debates. We will have a timetable to submit the revisions to our Constitution],” Alvarez said in a radio interview.
He has filed his own version of a House resolution calling for a Con-Con in which all regions will elect a total of 80 representatives, while the President will appoint 20 delegates with the same qualifications as the members of the House. The appointees must also be experts in Constitutional Law.
“We won’t be electing too many delegates. We are going to limit it per region,” Alvarez said.
Drilon, however, wants the number of delegates per region to equal the number of congressional representatives.
Alvarez also proposed to delay the barangay (village) elections set in October to May next year to coincide with the election for Con-Con delegates, which Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said would yield at least P5 billion in savings.
Alvarez said the draft of the new Constitution could be submitted to the public for ratification during the 2019 mid-term elections.
Drilon has a longer timeframe — elections by May next year, a Con-Con by the following September and ratification by 2020.
Similar to Drilon’s proposal, Alvarez wants incumbent lawmakers barred from running for the Con-Con, and candidates must not represent any political party. All government officials and employees who run for the Con-Con polls will be deemed resigned.
Alvarez and Drilon agree that Charter change must be done through a Con-Con, rather than through Congress convened as a Constituent Assembly or Con-Ass, which was proposed by Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez to save money and hasten deliberations.
“Why [do]you place a price tag on how our country should be run in the next decades? That is never an argument for me,” Drilon told reporters.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said the Con-Con and Con-Ass have their pros and cons but the latter could affect the work of Congress.
Con-Ass, however, will get the job done quickly because “you have a fixed term so you must achieve your goals within a fixed amount of time,” he added.
The move to change the Constitution will have bigger chance of succeeding in the early stages of the Duterte administration as there will be no suspicion of a ploy for term extensions, an obstacle to Charter change is in the past two decades, Angara said.