MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang, on Friday, April 13, defended the importance of the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) formed by President Rodrigo Duterte after former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said it had no "constitutional value" and could be disregarded by Congress.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that since the committee was formed by the President, members of his political party, PDP-Laban, would likely be swayed to adopt the body's proposals.
"It (Con-Com) should be highly persuasive to members of the President's party in Congress since it is the Party Chairman who created it," said Roque in a statement.
"Con Comm inputs relevant to party in control of Congress that will make specific proposals to revise the Constitution," he also said.
Earlier that day, Hilbay, in a forum at the University of Santo Tomas, downplayed the importance of the Con-Com which is in the thick of crafting a new federal constitution they will propose to Congress and Duterte.
Hilbay even called the Con-Com the "Puno Study Group", referring to Con-Com Chairman and former Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno.
Congress, the body that will likely convene into a Constitutional Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution, is not bound to adopt the Con-Com's proposed charter or any of its recommendations.
"Only a Con-Ass or a Con-Con (Constitutional Convention) can propose amendments. The Puno group was created by the President, who is not a proposing entity so no constitutional value," Hilbay told Rappler.
Duterte's Con-Com appears patterned to moves of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to change the constitution, he added.
"It's a page from the Marcos playbook: using 'deodorizers' to sell Cha- Cha. In the 70s, it was UP Law dean and UP Law president Vicente Sinco. Now, it's CJ (Chief Justice) Puno," said Hilbay. (READ: LOOK BACK: Past Charter Change attempts and why they failed)
They have up to July this year to submit their final recommendations to Duterte. After this, the Con-Com will be dissolved. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.