By Charissa Luci-Atienza
As 17th Congress opens its third regular session tomorrow, July 23, officials and members of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments are expected to roll up their sleeves this week to tackle the draft Federal Constitution submitted by the Consultative Committee (Con-Com).
Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, panel chairman, said they set the hearing on Wednesday, July 25 to tackle ConCom’s output.
“We will immediately begin the hearing. I think this Wednesday if the schedule permits. That is the mandate (deliberate) of our committee–to study these (Con-Com) recommendations,” said Mercado in an interview after Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez wanted to suspend the 2019 midterm election to finish the deliberations on the draft Charter within six months at the earliest.
The House leader said he is expecting that during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte will lay down his plans on Cha-cha.
“The SONA is the key to Cha-cha, ” Mercado said. “As for Cha-Cha, we will listen to the SONA first,” he said.
Mercado explained that they set the committee deliberation on Wednesday “to be prepared if the President will request Congress to consider the ConCom’s draft.”
He also noted that the convening of the Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) will not happen today. “We will hold a caucus first after President’s SONA, ” he said.
When asked if they would nod to President Duterte should the Chief Executive asks Congress to adopt ConCom’s draft Charter, Mercado said, “We will be guided by constitutional processes. Since it has political implications we have to defer with vital stakeholders and the circumstances that precipitate the events.”
Speaker Alvarez said the House will study and review the draft Federal Constitution.
He and Farinas agreed that the House is not bound by the working draft as the consultative committee is just recommendatory or advisory body.
They said that it is Congress, working as Con-Ass , which has the authority to propose amendments to the Constitution.(Charissa M. Luci-Atienza)