PHILIPPINE Constitution Association President Martin Romualdez on Friday lauded the House committee on constitutional amendments for its efforts to begin the debate on Charter Change by scheduling a series of hearings to deliberate on proposals to effect federalism as espoused by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Romualdez, the former House Independent Bloc leader and ex-Leyte three-term congressman, said Congress should not waste time to support the Chief Executive’s desire to push the shift from the presidential-unitary form of government to a parliamentary-federal system for fair distribution of the benefits of economic growth.
“The Constitution is again in the limelight because of the aspiration of the new administration to have a federal form of government that is responsive to the needs of the people and meet the exigencies of the nation,” said Romualdez after the panel chaired by Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado began the hearing Wednesday.
Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Dermocrats, said the grand debate on Charter Change must be sustained to enlighten the public.
“Charter Change will free the nation from sufferings, especially on selective justice, worsening traffic gridlock, corruption, poverty, drug menace and among other concerns,” Romualdez said.
Philconsa, the oldest association of legal luminaries in the country, in existence for 55 years, itself has been supportive of the initiative.
House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza cautioned his colleagues against rushing the approval of convening Congress into a Constitutional Assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.
“Let us not rush the issue on Charter Change. We just conducted the first meeting. Let us debate about it, let’s talk about it. There is no need to rush it,” Atienza said
“We in Buhay party-list are in favor of a Constitutional Convention composed of experts directly elected by the people and who are in the best position to study proposed amendments to the Constitution,” said Atienza, whose House Bill 3026, he co-authored along with Buhay Rep. Michael Velarde Jr., which called for a Con-Con was tackled.
During the initial hearing on Charter Change conducted by the House committee on constitutional amendments Wednesday, several House Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu of Batangas and Gwen Garcia of Cebu withdrew their respective bills calling for a Con-Con to support Con-Ass.
“My conviction and advocacy on full decentralization and devolution of resources and functions from the national government down to the local government is the reason why I want to shift from unitary to a federal system of government,” Abu said.
Abu said he had to support a Con-Ass as a mode to rewrite the Constitution to enable crafters of the Charter to come up with a “stronger Constitution” for future generations.
The committee has scheduled its next hearings on Nov. 15 to 16, and on Nov. 22 to 23 as Congress goes on a Halloween break from Oct 20 to Nov. 6.