Approved Charter change practical, not costly, says solon

December 14, 2018

THE chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments has defended their approved version of Charter change (Cha-cha), which is practical and not costly.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso said the observations of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, head of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s Consultative Committee (Con-com), Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15 or the draft federal Charter, were misplaced.

“While we respect the observations made by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, they are sadly misplaced,” said Veloso, explaining the House version of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to push Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) is more practical than the costly Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).

Veloso, a former Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice, also pointed out that their proposal “is the compromise solution because it offers a gradual and progressive system for federalizing the regions”, explaining the proposed 18 states of Puno’s Con-com are too expensive.

“The Consultative Committee version attracted so much attention from the economic managers because its realization is very expensive as it proposed a total of 18 Regions,” Veloso explained.

He also said the House version removing the lifting of term limits of legislators and local officials “is a good idea which will best serve the interest of the public because it does not prohibit the re-election of outstanding public servants and legislators.”

“The argument that the House only acted in its best interest by removing the term limit provisions of the 1987 Constitution is absurd. Granting, without conceding, that a ‘no term limit’ is bad for politics in general, it is not an argument against the Consultative Assembly because there is no assurance that a Constitutional Convention may retain the 1987 Constitution provisions on term limits. In fact, the 1935 Constitution, which was a product of a Constitutional convention, did not provide for term limits either,” said Veloso.

The congressman also said “the Hybrid proposal of critics where members of Congress and individuals appointed by the President come together to amend or revise the Constitution has no constitutional basis.”

“Nowhere in Art. XVII of the 1987 Constitution can this idea be found,” said Veloso.

In pushing for Con-Ass, Veloso said “the House of Representatives merely exercised its constitutional mandate.”

“Further, going down the road of a constitutional convention is too costly for the Republic. There is no need for a Con-Con because Congress can perform the same functions at a much lesser cost,” said Veloso.

“The House of Representatives utilized the Consultative Assembly Mechanism because, firstly, the 1987 Constitution provided for a hierarchy of bodies that may amend or revise the Constitution.  This is apparent in Article XVII of the same which provides that any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; A constitutional convention, or People’s initiative, in the case of amendments,” Veloso added.

Voting 224 against 22 and three abstentions, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a proposal amending the 1987 Constitution.

Asked about the absence of the anti-dynasty provision on the proposal, the Speaker said she had nothing to do with it.

RBH No. 15 was already amended to return the Vice President in the line of succession to the presidency.

The country’s President and Vice president will be elected with each other to serve four-year terms, subject to one re-election, the proposal said.

For members of Congress, the proposal mandates that they should be holders of college degrees and will also serve four-year terms.

The measure states that the first election under the proposed Constitution will be held on the second Monday of May 2022.