• Palace forms 25-man body to study Cha-cha

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    Malacañang has formed a 25-man consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution and study the President’s proposal to shift to a federal system of government.

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    “The Office of the President finds the need for a revision of the Constitution in the light of his public statements on the desirability of adopting a federal form of government, among others,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told the Senate committee on constitutional amendments which began hearings on charter change on Thursday.

    The consultative committee will be required to submit a research paper within six months from the issuance of an executive order forming the body, he said.

    Medialdea reiterated that the President preferred to change the 30-year-old Charter through Congress convened as a Constituent Assembly, instead of a Constitutional Convention.

    The 25-man review body will study contentious issues such as whether the two houses of Congress should vote separately or as one Constituent Assembly, he said.

    “The matter of substance will be discussed in this consultative commission, the matter of voting separately is a matter that would also be tackled. We would like to be given an opportunity to study more in detail and in depth this legal issue,” he added.

    Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said there was a consensus among different sectors on the need to revisit the 1987 Constitution, but they were divided on how the charter should be changed.

    “I think the consensus is there is a need, after 30 years, to review the Constitution. Some quarters are saying we should review its provisions; others are saying we should review the form of government; and others are on the economic provision,” said Drilon, who heads the Senate committee on constitutional amendments.

    Resource persons invited to the Senate committee hearing Thursday were particularly divided over the mode of changing the charter – a Constitutional Convention or a Constituent Assembly.

    A Constituent Assembly is said to be easier to convene because members of Congress will propose the amendments or revisions, while a Constitutional Convention requires the election of delegates.

    “But in case it is a Con-ass there appears to be a unanimity that Congress should be voting separately,” Drilon said.

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