Senators are more likely to agree to amend the 1987 Constitution through a constituent assembly (Con-ass) than having to introduce changes to it through a Constitutional convention (Con-con).
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada pointed this out saying he can only anticipate how the government will have to utilize a huge amount of public funds if lawmakers go by the way the House of Representatives’ want to change the present Charter, which is through Con-con.
“In my own opinion, I agree with (former Economic Planning) Secretary Pernia, masyadong magastos, kapag idaraan mo sa Con-con. Sino ang mga tatakbo? Sino ang ie-elect na delegado and the most probably mga kamag-anak ng mga pulitiko, kaanak ng mga congressman, senador, governor, mayors …sila-sila pa rin (It’s too expensive, when you go through Con-con. Who will run? Who will be elected delegates and most probably relatives of politicians, relatives of congressmen, senators, governors, mayors are the ones who will still run),” Estrada said in a Zoom interview.
“Kapag Con-con malaki gastos, bibilhan mo ng kotse, suswelduhan staff, bibilhan computer gamit, opisina..Saan kukuha ng pera? Uutang na naman ba? (With Con-con, it will cost a lot, you have to buy a car, pay staff, buy computer equipment, office... Where will you get the money? Are we going to loan again?”
“Kung Con-ass naman kami mismo, mga mambabatas ang magrerevise ng Saligang Batas, walang gastos. Although may legal luminaries nagsasabi di eksperto ang mga mambabatas na magrevise ng Constitution, sa aking palagay naman pwede naman kami maghire (If we go by Con-ass, we legislators will revise the Constitution at no cost. Although there are legal luminaries saying that the legislators are not experts to revise the Constitution. In my opinion, we can hire),”
“We can hire legal luminaries, even former justices of Supreme Court, we can hire them as consultants, mas maliit ang gastos (and the cost is less),” he explained.
But Estrada said he too, would support any moves to change the 36-year old Constitution, but only if lawmakers will be tinkering with the economic provisions.
“I must admit that our present Constitution is quite old already, 36 years na pala. But my support would strictly be on the economic provisions only. But if you touch on term limits, then I would not, baka pagbintangan tayo na (we might be accused of being) self-serving,” the senator stressed.
Asked how many senators are likely to vote for Charter change, Estrada said he cannot say, but believes many are “open” for Con-ass.
At the same time, Estrada also defended Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri against accusations of a low output performance, saying the Senate has always been very careful in scrutinizing proposed laws emanating from the Lower House.
“Kung kailangan magtulungan magkaroon ng bicam, kailangan iyan (If we have to work through a bicameral meeting, we will do it). We are here to scrutinize bills for the benefit of our people. Di naman pwedeng magpapasa ka lang ng batas (You cannot just pass laws) that would be done in haste,” he said.
“It’s more about quality than quantity,” the lawmaker insisted.