Senators welcome consultative committee to review Constitution

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 26) — The formation of the consultative committee to review the Constitution is "a welcome development," Senate President Koko Pimentel and Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Friday.

"[That is] part of the executive's effort to review the current constitution," Pimentel said in a text message. "[Legislative] will have its own mechanisms."

Drilon added the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments should continue its hearings, particularly those in Mindanao, Cebu, and Baguio, as well as listen to other resource persons.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed the 19-member consultative committee on Wednesday, with former Chief Justice Reynato Puno set to lead the team.

"The study [or] report of Puno Commission will be an input in the report of the Constitutional Amendments Committee, and the debates in plenary," said Drilon.

Majority Leader Tito Sotto also revealed he knew about the committee last year. He added, "It can be useful to us."

Related: Duterte creates constitutional review committee, ex-CJ Puno to lead

House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas, however, clarified that the committee is only an advisory body.

"It cannot, and will not work in tandem with the Congress," said Fariñas. "Of course, the Congress may consider the committee's recommendations, as well as those of any citizen, and may adopt or not adopt them at all."

House Constitutional Amendments Committee Chair Roger Mercado said his panel welcomed the development. He said recommendations from Puno's committee "definitely provide our Congress with more inputs in the historic drafting of our 'New Philippine Constitution.'"

Related: House to opt for con-con, people's initiative for charter change - solon

The creation of the committee comes amid heated debates on charter change in Congress.

Duterte campaigned on a promise to shift government structure to a federal system where local government units have more autonomy and power. However, critics say a federal system could empower political dynasties or be difficult to economically sustain for poor regions.

CNN Philippines correspondents Joyce Ilas and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.

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