Cha-cha debates eyed in May

By , on February 13, 2017

MANILA –The House committee on constitutional amendments will be submitting its committee report calling on Congress to constitute itself as a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

In a press conference on Monday, committee chair Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado said the panel recommends Con-Ass as a mode for a Charter overhaul and its report will be referred to the committee on rules, which will calendar the measure for second reading.

Mercado is targeting the start of deliberations on the proposal in May, well after the plenary debates on the death penalty are finished as Congress adjourns on March 18.

The congressional recess will run through March 18 to May 1. Session is set to resume on May 2.

“It is our hope that Congress will give priority in our business when we open our session come May this year,” Mercado said.

Mercado said congressional leaders are leaning toward two chambers of Congress voting separately, and this arrangement could be tackled in the plenary for the period of amendments.

The House leader also noted that a constituent assembly will only cost the normal operation expenses of Congress as compared to a constitutional convention (Con-Con) which will cost about PHP8.1 billion pesos.

“A constituent assembly does not cost anything because it is still Congress which will be functioning using the same budget appropriated for its operation,” Mercado said.

“The cost alone to elect the delegates of a Con-Con, if synchronized with the Barangay and SK elections is about PHP8.1 billion,” he added.

There are three modes of amending the Constitution: a constituent assembly, a constitutional convention, and a People’s initiative.