Consultative Committee aims to give Cha-Cha report by Duterte's SONA
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Consultative Committee (Con-Com) studying amendments to the 1987 Constitution aims to submit its report by President Rodrigo Duterte's 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) this July.
Con-Com member and former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr told reporters this was the biggest decision made by the 19-member body during their first ever meeting on Thursday, February 8, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
"Basically, they want us to submit the proposal by towards the end of, 'yung SONA sa July (the SONA in July) so the President can already report the results of the Consultative Committee recommendations for Congress to take up," said Pimentel after leaving the meeting.
Duterte will deliver his 3rd SONA on July 23. The committee wants the President to be able to hand to leaders of both houses of Congress their report during the SONA. (READ: Is there a need to change the 1987 Philippine Constitution?)
The committee has 6 months or until July to come up with its recommendations and proposals for amending the 1987 Constitution.
Asked if he thinks Congress should wait for the Con-Com's report before convening as a Constituent Assembly, Con-Com chairperson Reynato Puno said, "Yes, that should be ideal."
The former Supreme Court chief justice said he prefers to engage members of Congress only when the committee is able to finish its recommendations.
"Personally, I would prefer that we be given enough time to revise, revisit this Constitution, separated and independent from Congress," he said.
A majority of the current 19 members are pro-federalism, said Pimentel, himself a staunch advocate of that form of government.
Asked if he is confident that Congress will adopt the committee's proposals, he said he remains hopeful.
"Hopefully. We are a free country and I don't think we should dictate. We should allow the representatives of the people to have their say. If they are convinced, fine, and if they are not, then too bad," said Pimentel.
He expects the most contentious issues to be changes to the economic provisions and the inclusion of an anti-political dynasty provision.
Aside from the submission target, Pimentel said the Con-Com members, led by former Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno, also discussed "general guidelines" and schedule for meetings.
It was agreed that the members are to meet Mondays to Fridays until July at the PICC.
Pimentel said he suggests for committee meetings to be open to the media in order to engage the public in discussions about reviewing the charter. (READ: A comparison of Cha-Cha proposals: From federalism to foreign equity) – Rappler.com