No allocation for charter change in 2017 budget
MANILA, Philippines – The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is not appropriating money in 2017 for efforts to amend the Constitution.
“There is no budget for charter change here, but the preference of the President is Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly). That does not involve additional expenses. If so, we can get it from the contingent fund,” said Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Monday, August 15.
“If you elect the delegates as proposed to be synchronized with the election of barangay captains, you don’t need additional money for that. Very little money will be involved,” he added.
The Department of Budget and Management submitted the proposed P3.35-trillion budget for 2017 to the House of Representatives on Monday. (READ: Diokno on 2017 budget: No cap for lawmakers' pet projects)
President Rodrigo Duterte has long been championing a shift to federalism, wherein the Philippines would be divided into autonomous states that are chiefly responsible over their own laws, finances, development, infrastructure, industries, and culture.
The national government only takes care of matters with nationwide bearing. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons making the shift)
The President said he prefers to amend the 1987 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly, which involves Congress turning itself into a body to make the amendments “upon a vote of 3/4 of all its members.”
Despite protests from several lawmakers and analysts, Duterte defended the Constitutional Assembly, saying it is cheaper and faster compared to a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) that may cost the government up to P10 billion. (READ: Duterte: I'll close Congress if Con-Ass ruins charter)
A Con-Con is a body separate from Congress whose members are either elected through popular vote or appointed by the President.
On Monday, Senator Franklin Drilon said he is not surprised that the Duterte administration did not include any appropriations in the 2017 budget for charter change, saying: "That is consistent with their position [to go for] Con-Ass. I’m not surprised."
But will the lack of a budget for charter change have any effects should the Duterte administration adopt a Con-Con instead of a Constituent Assembly for federalism?
“A resolution for a Con-Con or a Con-Ass does not need the President’s approval. And once the resolution is approved, it is submitted directly to the people for approval. The reality, however, the President, as a political leader, would have an influence on the manner. Number two, his power over the budget would enable the President to influence or dictate practically the manner in which the Constitution should be amended,” explained Drilon.
“So the reality is, assuming that Congress would pass a Con-Con, then we have to negotiate with the executive on the budget. Ganoon po ang mangyayari (That's what will happen),” he added. – Rappler.com