Senate panel starts ball rolling on Charter Change

The groundwork for proposals to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution will begin in the Senate next week, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon revealed today.

Drilon, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, confirmed that his committee set its first hearing on the controversial measure on December 8, a week after the enactment of the 2017 national budget.

"Let the debates begin," Drilon announced.

"This committee understands the importance of this undertaking in the agenda of the current administration so we will ensure that it is given the utmost priority," Drilon said.

"We will hear all views and opinions of the various sectors on these issues," he added.

Drilon said that his panel has invited resource persons from various sectors including the business community, labor, academe, civil society, sectoral and religious groups, as well as respected Constitutional and legal experts and former Supreme Court justices.

Among them are former Chief Justices Hilario Davide Jr., Reynato Puno and Artemio Panganiban; former Supreme Court associate justices Adolfo Azcuna, Antonio Nachura, and Vicente Mendoza; recognized Constitutional experts Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Atty. Christian Monsod; and former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

The panel will also invite some members of the cabinet including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Makati Business Club chairman Ramon Del Rosario Jr., among others.

The senator reiterated his commitment towards making the process of amending and revising the constitution "thorough, consultative and transparent."

He said the initial hearing would focus on the following key issues:

1. Is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution? Why or why not?

2. If so, what parts of the Constitution should be amended or revised? Why?

3. Should the amendments or revision be proposed by a Constitutional Convention or by the Congress itself acting as a constituent assembly? Why?

4. If the Congress convenes as a constituent assembly for the purpose of amending or revising the Constitution, should the Senate and the House of Representatives vote jointly or separately?

"All these must be and will be thoroughly considered, guided by the principle that the vehicle we choose must be democratic, participatory, and inclusive," Drilon assured.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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