AMENDING the 1987 Constitution through a Constitutional Convention where voters elect the delegates will ensure that the majority of the people will approve of the new constitution, a lawmaker said Monday.
Buhay party-list Rep. Jose Atienza made the statement after the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments agreed to a resolution convening the two houses of Congress into a Constituent Assembly.
“One sure way to engage the people from the start is via a Constitutional Convention, where they will have the chance to expressly elect their representatives. This way, the proposed modifications will also be easily ratified once these are submitted to the people in a plebiscite,” Atienza, a House deputy minority leader, said in a statement.
“In the past, those strongly opposed to a Constituent Assembly were mostly wary that members of Congress might introduce self-serving amendments, including the lifting of restrictions to the number of terms they and their family members may serve in elected offices,” Atienza added.
The lawmaker was referring to previous moves to amend the Constitution through people’s initiative or a signature campaign during the Ramos and Arroyo administrations, as well as the push for a Constituent Assembly to lift the 40 percent cap on foreign ownership of land and public utilities during the time of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“In a Constituent Assembly, Congress itself sits down to recommend revisions to the Constitution. If we want charter reforms to succeed, we have to do it right. We have to learn the lessons of the past. Con-con is clearly the path of least resistance,” Atienza said.
“The people are entitled to elect a new set of representatives to propose improvements to the Constitution,” he added.
Under the Constitution, the draft charter must be submitted to a plebiscite whether produced by a Constitutional Convention or a Constituent Assembly.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte has rejected a constitutional convention, arguing that would-be delegates would still be composed of former members of Congress and their allies.
Alvarez also said that a convention would cost billions of pesos and could take years before coming up with a new charter.
The Duterte administration is pushing for charter change to allow a shift to a federal form of government from a unitary one. Under the plan, the country will be divided into 11 independent states or regions, including the Bangsamoro being sought by Muslim rebels.