House pushes for ConCon to pave the way for federalism

MANILA — The House of Representatives is amenable to revising the 1987 Constitution but prefers to do this through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) that shall be composed of regionally elected and appointed delegates.

In the very first House Resolution of the 17th Congress introduced by Davao del Norte Representative and incoming Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez, among the reasons forwarded for amending the Constitution is to “make the form of government more responsive to the needs of the nation.”

Alvarez had earlier said that amending the Constitution for the purpose of establishing a federal system of government will lead to lasting peace in Mindanao, which will subsequently benefit the country.

“Several studies have also shown that such a shift in the country’s form of government will stimulate and hasten the country’s political, economic, social and cultural development,” he said.

The incoming House Speaker likewise assured the public there was nothing to worry about his ConCon proposal since the people themselves will choose the delegates, thus allaying fears over possible abuse of power in the course of amending the constitution.

A ConCon is one of three modes of amending the Constitution — the other modes being through a people’s initiative, and a constituent assembly.

Under a ConCon, delegates elected through popular vote will convene to discuss proposed amendments to the Constitution.

“Ideas and proposals of various sectors will be better discussed, reviewed, deliberated and considered through a ConCon,” Alvarez said.

According to House Concurrent Resolution No. 1, “the best mode of revising the 1987 Constitution is through a Constitutional Convention wherein the delegates who will propose revisions are regionally elected for that purpose.”

This process shall ensure that the people-at-large, from the very outset, shall be part of the changes that will be introduced for the fundamental structure of our society,” the Resolution stated.

As provided in the Resolution, the legislative districts shall be represented by a regional delegate, while the President shall appoint 20 delegates, all of whom shall possess the same qualifications of the members of the House of Representatives at the very least and shall be lawyers who are considered experts or are well versed in constitutional law.

No member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate shall run as delegate or be appointed to the ConCon.

Any person holding public office or position, elective or appointive, including members of the Armed Forces and officers and employees of government-owned and controlled corporations, shall ipso facto be considered resigned upon the filing of his or her certificate of candidacy or upon appointment as delegate to the ConCon.

The Resolution also provides that no candidate for delegate to the Constitutional Convention shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party, political group, party list, political committee, civic, religious, professional or other organization or organized group of whatever nature.

However, these groups may advocate constitutional reforms, programs, policies or proposals for the revision of the Constitution.

The office of the ConCon delegate shall be honorary.

As such, a delegate shall not receive any salary or compensation but shall be entitled to a per diem for every day of attendance in its deliberations as well as travel expenses.

All delegates shall render a full disclosure of their financial and business interests and notify the ConCon and Congress of a potential conflict of interest that may arise from the discharge of their duties as delegates to the Convention.

All delegates to the ConCon shall enjoy the same parliamentary immunity conferred by existing laws to the members of Congress.

The initial funds necessary to carry out the provisions of the resolution shall include the budget for personnel, premises, equipment and furniture and shall be charged against the Contingent Fund under the Fiscal Year 2016 General Appropriations Act. PNA/