Congress will give priority to Charter change to pave the way for the passage of the Bangsamoro measure, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said on Wednesday.
“We will prioritize the revision of the Constitution. We agreed that we cannot wait for the Commission being created by the President. We could present the proposed amended Constitution for a plebiscite, maybe simultaneously with the 2019 [midterm]elections,” Fariñas told reporters after meeting with their Senate counterparts.
He was referring to the 25-strong commission whose members have yet to be appointed by the President to craft amendments to the 1987 Constitution,
Fariñas said the House and the Senate will form a Technical Working Group composed of six House members and six senators that will draft proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
“Although we agreed in terms of the Bangsamoro Basic Law [being passed into law], it might require Constitutional amendments because the wishes of our Muslim brothers and sisters are not provided under the present Constitution,” Fariñas said.
“We will identify which constitutional provisions will be affected by this [proposed Bangsamoro law]so that we can prioritize it in a Constitutional Assembly,” he added.
In a Constitutional Assembly, the authority of proposing amendments to the Constitution will be vested upon incumbent members of Congress.
Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson for the provincial crisis management committee in Marawi City, and Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao earlier lamented that President Rodrigo Duterte spent too much time making off the cuff remarks during his second State of the Nation Address that he forgot to push federalism, the Bangsamoro Basic law and peace process, among others.
“What he said was about the expansion of the BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission). He should have dwelt more on federalism. When this will be deliberated by should have said like the issue on Mindanao, the peace process [with MILF, MNLF and the communist rebels], Marawi siege and the ISIS,” Adiong pointed out.