By Hannah Torregoza
Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws chair Senator Francis (Kiko) Pangilinan said Filipinos who attended the panel’s public hearing and consultation on Charter change proposals have expressed their preference to amend the 1987 Constitution through a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).
While most of the participants have mixed views on Charter change and the Duterte administration push for the shift to a federal form of government, it was clear that they favor Con-con over amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly or Con-Ass.
The Duterte administration has been pushing for a shift to federalism as a means to address the armed conflict in Mindanao.
Pangilinan’s committee recently held deliberations on charter change in Cebu City, after holding public consultations in Cagayan de Oro City. The panel, he said, is planning to hold hearings in Cotabato City for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Baguio City and in the Bicol Region next week.
“Actually most of those who attended are split—there are some who are in favor of change some are not—but what is clear is that they do not like charter change done through Con-Ass,” Pangilinan said in an interview over Radio DZBB.
“They said it is more trustworthy if charter change is done through democratic means where they are the ones who will choose the representatives who should take part in tackling the amendments to the 1987 Constitution,” he further said.
If the mode to be undertaken is Con-con, the people get to elect the delegates who will convene and propose constitutional amendments. In Con-Ass members of both houses of Congress—the Senate and House of Representatives—will convene to amend the Charter.
Asked if his committee is ready to release a recommendation, Pangilinan said they may have to wait until they have exhausted all questions during the hearings.
“We are still working on a timetable and hopefully we are able to finish all the public hearings before Congress goes on recess,” Pangilinan said.
The Senate will go on a Holy Week break starting March 24 and will resume regular sessions on May 14.
Pangilinan said the committee will make sure that all sides would be heard, whether or not they are in favor or not in favor of charter change.
“Just like what we did during the first hearing at the Senate, we want to make sure all sides are covered. Those in favor and against it should be given an opportunity to speak up regarding the issue,” the senator said.