House panel approves Concon consolidated bill

August 26, 2009 10:50 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 26 — Amidst calls from various sectors to stop Charter change (Cha-cha), the House committee on Constitutional Amendements on Tuesday approved the consolidated House Concurrent Resolution calling for a Constitutional convention (Concon) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

"Whereas the 22-year-old 1987 Philippine Constitution contains certain provisions which have seemingly outlived their purpose, it needs to be revisited to institute much-needed socio-economic and political reforms," the resolution read.

It also proposed that election of the estimated 250 Concon delegates will be held simultaneous with the May 2010 elections "to dispel fears of promoting any vested interests among the incumbent elected officials and to defray the cost of a separate election for delegates to the Constitutional convention."

"The process of amending the Constitution shall only take place thereafter," it added.

The resolution further stated that the various proposals for amendments to or revision of the 1987 Constitution "are imperative for the Republic to directly address the basic needs of the people, and to ensure its competitiveness in a highly globalized economy."

Calling for a Concon to propose Constitutional amendments "is the least divisive and the most transparent, exhaustive and democratic means of implementing Constitutional reforms, among the three modes of amending the Constitution as provided for under Sections 1&2, Article 17 of the 1987 Constitution," it said.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Elias Yusof, during last week's hearing, said inclusion of nominees for the Concon delegates would make the list of names in the ballot longer.

"We feel the holding of Constitutional convention as well as election of delegates simultaneous with the presidential election would be confusing to the public especially that Con-con delegates should be elected by districts also in the same way that congressmen are elected by districts," he said.

The Comelec official noted that the current ballot is configured to accommodate only 60 names. Concon delegates per district including sectoral representatives are expected to reach 250.

"If we will include the delegates to the Con-con, it will give us a long list of names, it will be too confusing to the public," he said.

Yusoph also said the poll body might also run out of time to prepare for the election of Concon delegates since it is swamped with election cases, application of political parties and party-list groups that they need to assess and finalize before November.

Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, however, said it is up to the plenary of the House of Representatives to decide whether they approve the House Concurrent Resolution to hold election of Concon delegates simultaneous with the May 2010 elections or overturn it and instead have it in October 2010 simultaneous with the holding of barangay elections.

Tanada said the committee would discuss the resolution’s implementing guidelines in its next hearing on September 8.

After the guidelines have been crafted, the committee would submit a report to the plenary for deliberation, he said.

The plenary earlier approved House Resolution 1109 seeking to convene a Constituent assembly (Con-ass) even without the Senate’s participation.

House leaders are still in a quandary on what to do next with the measure as the Senate has vowed to crush the move.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said that if nothing happened by the end of the month to the Con-ass resolution, which he authored, the House would consider proposals for the holding of a Concon.

House committee on Constitutional Amendments chair and La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, in a chance interview, said HR 1109 is still pending at the House committee on rules for it to decide on what to do next with the measure.

He, however, said that majority of congressmen have expressed approval with the calling of a Constitutional convention in amending the Charter. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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