Constitutional convention best way forward for charter change
The issue of charter change is no longer new.
In 1997, President Fidel Ramos’ partisans moved to form a movement to amend the Constitution to allow a second presidential term. Two avenues were explored: the conversion of Congress into a constituent assembly and mobilization of a people’s initiative. Both did not prosper.
Another clamor followed during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when her allies persuaded the people in supporting a call for charter change through people’s initiative. The Supreme Court ruled to dismiss that initiative for failure to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution.
On Dec. 7, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 10, which created a consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution. Duterte received the proposed federal constitution on July 9, 2018. It never saw the light of day.
The ongoing hearings at the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes chaired by Sen. Robin Padilla should be of interest to the entire nation.
Changing our system of government is a worthwhile, far-reaching endeavor we can strive for and wish to see for ourselves and bequeath to our children and our children’s children. Budget-wise, it would cost us less than one percent of, say, the P5.3 trillion general appropriations for 2023.
In this regard, Kapatiran Party petitioned the House of Representatives and the Senate last Aug. 31 to enact the Constitutional Convention Act of 2022, an “An Act Calling for a Constitutional Convention, Providing for Legislative District Representation Therein and Other Details Relating to the Election of Delegates to and the Holding of the Constitutional Convention, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes.”
It must be emphasized that the object of the Constitutional Convention Act of 2022 is to address the entirety of our nation’s sociopolitical problems brought about, in large part, by our present system of government alongside shortcomings in the present Constitution.
The constitutional convention shall be composed of 253 delegates from the current 253 legislative districts. They have the same qualifications as those required of members of the House of Representatives.
All members of Congress, who were elected during the May 2022 elections together with their relatives within the second civil degree of consanguinity and affinity shall be disqualified from running as delegates to the convention.
Any person elected as delegate to the constitutional convention shall not be qualified to run for any public office in any election or to assume any appointive office or position in any branch of the government until after the mid-term elections in May 2025.
The election of delegates to the convention by the qualified electors of each district shall be held on May 8, 2023, synchronized with the barangay elections.
The plebiscite shall be held on May 12, 2025, synchronized with the 2025 national and local elections.
Time and again, the underlying resistance to past initiatives on charter change revolves around mistrust—changes benefiting the incumbent, changes being self-serving.
To diminish suspicions of political motivations, a constitutional convention may well be the best way forward.
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