‘Constitutional Commission’ eyed to serve as guide during charter change

  • Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez proposed the creation of a “Constitutional Commission”
  • The Commission would guide Congress, forming itself as a Constitutional Assembly to amend the Constitution
  • Alvarez earlier pushed for the Constitutional Assembly instead of a Convention 

House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez proposed the creation of a “Constitutional Commission” who will guide Senators and Congressmen during the Constitutional Assembly (Con Ass) being pushed in order to amend the Constitution.

Alvarez said that President Rodrigo Duterte must sign an executive order (EO) creating a Commission composed of 20 “elders” as a way to quell doubts about changing the Constitution via Con Ass as opposed to a duly-elected Constitutional Convention.

Previous attempts to change the country’s charter by Duterte’s predecessors have failed due to public concern that legislators assembled as the Con Ass would be able to tinker with the nation’s Constitution and perpetuate power.

“It’s sad that the public is wary of [charter change] but I can’t blame them because of their bad experience. But it is the President himself who stressed that lawmakers are Filipinos themselves and as Filipinos they should do something for the country,” Alvarez told the Inquirer.

The Speaker proposed appointing legal luminaries such as former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Radio Mindanao Network founder and lawyer Reuben Canoy, and San Beda Law School dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, as well as representatives from non-government organizations and members of the academe to the Constitutional Commission.

“They will be tasked with studying and reviewing the present Constitution and then drafting a new Charter, which will be submitted to the constituent assembly where it will be discussed thoroughly,” he explained.

Alvarez also added that the establishment of a Constitutional Commission would not be unconstitutional since it would still be Congress, forming itself as the Con Ass, would still deliberate and approve the final amendments, which would be put out for public approval via a referendum.

Duterte and his allies are seeking to amend the Constitution in order to switch the country’s form of government to federalism, as well as relaxing limits to foreign ownership in the country.