MANILA—Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said the 17th Congress will convene itself as a Constituent Assembly (Con-ass) next year to introduce amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
In an interview with reporters, Alvarez said both Houses will convene as one charter amending body with or without the Constitutional Commission (ConCom), a body of experts to be formed by Malacañang that will aid Congress in proposing Charter changes.
Alvarez explained that Malacañang has yet to name the members of the ConCom.
“The ball is still in the hands of Malacañang at the moment. In fact, we’ve already submitted our recommendation and the EO (Executive Order) creating the Constitutional Commission was already issued. So, the only thing lacking is the membership of the Constitutional Commission,” Alvarez said.
”If it is still not created this year, definitely, with or without the Commission, the Congress will start working on (proposing amendments) by next year,” he added.
In December 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order 10, creating a consultative committee, composed of 25 different experts from the country, that will review the Constitution.
President Duterte has been pushing for a shift from a unitary form of government towards a federal system to allow the better distribution of public services.
The lower chamber’s plenary discussions on the Con-ass resolution was originally scheduled this month.
House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Roger Mercado said the measure limits its scope on the mode of Charter change, which is Con-ass, as it will only cost the normal operation expenses of Congress as compared to a constitutional convention which will cost at least PHP8 billion.
Mercado said the manner of voting, which may be done separately by the House and the Senate, can be introduced as an amendment to the bill during the plenary proceedings.