THE House of Representatives sees no other mode to amend the Constitution other than by a Constituent Assembly which may be financed thru a supplemental budget, a House official said on Thursday.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said Congress did not allocate any amount for Charter Change as it is focused on “affordable” Con-Ass whose members will be composed of lawmakers.
“There is no budget for Charter Change because we’re now looking [at] Con-Ass as our mode,” Nograles told a news conference.
Under Con-Ass, Congress, through its constituent power, constitutes itself into a body which will perform the task of rewriting the 1987 Constitution.
The two other modes to amend the Charter are by a Constitutional Convention and by a people’s initiative.
Unlike Con-Ass, Con-Con will require the election of delegates.
On the other hand, registered voters may also launch a petition to revise the Constitution.
It should be signed by 12 percent, or 6.6 million, of 54.4-million registered voters.
“It is better to do this through Con-Ass. If through Con-Con we need a separate budget for that,” Nograles said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has said President Duterte now wants a Con-Ass to amend to constitution in the run up to a move towards federalism.
Alvarez quoted President Duterte as saying the latter preferred Con-Ass over the Con-Con as the former is “cheaper, practical and faster,” which could cost up to P7 billion.
However, Nograles said should President Duterte opt for a Con-Con, again a supplemental budget would be needed.
Nograles said: “Right now, we are looking at Con-Ass as a mode but if for reasons we will have to do Con-Con and we need a budget and the 2017 budget (by then) has been passed, we have no choice but to do a supplemental budget.
However, the question is: can we afford this?”
In submitting the 2017 national budget, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said no budget allocation for Charter Change was made because amending the constitution would be by Con-Ass.
In the proposed 2017 budget, the government is allocating P14.12 billion to the Congress.
Alvarez said the leadership of the 17th Congress will pass first the next year’s national budget and other priority measures before working on Charter Change next January.