Senate President receives draft of proposed federal charter

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — The Consultative Committee tasked to review the 1987 Constitution handed over a copy of the proposed federal charter to the Senate on Thursday.

Former Chief Justice and ConCom chair Reynato Puno and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel led the members of the panel who submitted the proposal to Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.

This was a day after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez received their copy of the proposed charter.

READ: House leadership receives draft of proposed federal constitution

Sotto said all senators will receive a copy so they could prepare for a caucus before President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address on July 23.

He added they still need to discuss whether charter change will be conducted through a constituent assembly or constitutional convention.

The Senate, however, will still wait for a formal transmittal from the President.

Puno said the draft includes the revised provision requested by Duterte to have an elected transition president.

With or without Senate

Alvarez had said the House of Representatives will push through with revising the Constitution even without the Senate's participation.

The House of Representatives already approved a resolution that will convene Congress as a constituent assembly, but the Senate has yet to pass a similar resolution pending at the committee.

The Senate has yet to decide on pertinent issues: Whether there is a need to amend the Constitution, and if so, whether it will be done by a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly.

In a constituent assembly, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate shall convene and decide on constitutional amendments themselves. A constitutional convention, meanwhile, requires nationwide elections to select delegates who will draft the constitutional amendments.

The 1987 Constitution states that any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.

All 23 senators have said they wanted to make their vote count in a separate voting, and not be irrelevant in a joint voting with 294 representatives.

A point of contention if Congress opts for a constituent assembly is whether the House and Senate will vote jointly or separately on the proposed revisions.

Sotto earlier said charter change is not a priority of the Senate.

The shift to a federal form of government was among Duterte's campaign promises, saying it would pave the way for more equitable distribution of wealth and political power and bring peace in Mindanao.

CNN Philippines' Senior Correspondent Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.