Senate panel resumes charter change deliberations


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — A Senate panel resumes its deliberations on the need to change the constitution Wednesday.

The House of Representatives approved a resolution that will allow Congress to convene as a constituent assembly and to revise the charter on Tuesday, to make way for a federal republic form of government.

READ: House OKs resolution to convene Con-Ass

The Senate committee on Constitutional Amendments, chaired by Senator Kiko Pangilinan, will meet at 9:30 a.m. to discuss if there is a need to change the constitution and  the preferred mode in amending the charter. This is the third hearing of the panel.

The panel invited former chief justices Reynato Puno, Hilario Davide, Jr., and Artemio Panganiban as among the resource persons on the proposed changes.

Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo confirmed his attendance, while former Senate President Nene Pimentel — a federalism advocate — was also invited.

Senator Ping Lacson earlier filed a resolution to convene the Senate into a separate constituent assembly to propose changes to the Constitution.

Senate President Koko Pimentel has yet to file his resolution for a constitutional assembly but stressed the Senate's common stand.

In the House's concurrent resolution, the lower chamber claimed a constitutional assembly was preferred since "it is deemed the most expeditious, open, and least costly among the options contemplated."

The Constitution can be amended through two other ways: a constitutional convention with selected delegates to take part in changing the law, and a people's initiative--allowing citizens to directly implement laws through a referendum.

The recommended changes in the Constitution to transition it to a federal government alarmed some lawmakers, as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez floated the possibility of having no midterm 2019 elections to accommodate the transition.

But Sen. Franklin Drilon said changes to the constitution may take a while, since the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, may focus on the trial of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

READ: Drilon: Term extension, no-elections scenario an 'indecent proposal'