House to start Cha-cha debates 6 months from now — House Speaker

MANILA — House of Representatives is expected to convene as a constituent assembly six months from now and begin deliberations on the proposed revision of the Constitution for a shift to a parliamentary form of government, according to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

In an interview on Tuesday, Alvarez noted that President Rodrigo Duterte has already signed an Executive Order creating a 25-member body tasked to study proposed changes to the charter.

The Commission will be composed of experts in their respective fields, tasked to prepare a proposed draft of a new constitution that would be submitted to Congress for debate and deliberation.

“The only thing that we’re waiting for is the appointment of the members of the Constitutional Commission. As soon as the appointments are made, hopefully by this month, the Commission could already start with its work,” said Alvarez.

“And maybe in six-months’ time we can already convene Congress as a constituent assembly so that we could debate and deliberate on the submission of the Constitutional Commission,” he added.

Alvarez said the lower chamber will be preoccupied with the task of tackling pending bills while waiting for the submission of the draft charter from the Con-Com.

He stressed that while Congress will use as starting point of its deliberation on the draft submitted by the Con-Com, they are not bound to merely accept or reject the proposed charter changes.

“The debates will be lengthy, and of course by that time we will be busy tackling the budget for 2018. That’s why I really expect that the House of Representatives will be working thoroughly,” said Alvarez.

The House leader also expressed optimism that Congress would be up to the task of overhauling the entire Constitution, noting that the draft of a new charter marks a major departure from the provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The shift to a federal form of government is one of the key campaign promises of Duterte during the 2016 presidential elections. Filane Mikee Cervantes/