Congressman eyes consensus on con-con with Senate

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 1) — House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairperson Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is open to talking to his Senate counterpart Robinhood Padilla to discuss the advantages of holding a constitutional convention over a constituent assembly.

Rodriguez said he plans to call Padilla to discuss a possible meeting on charter change with the vice chairpersons of their respective committees.

Padilla has repeatedly expressed preference for amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly, saying it would be more practical to convene than a constitutional convention.

Rodriguez, however, said it would be "self-serving" if lawmakers were to be involved in charter change.

"Those statements are subject to talks between the panel of the House and the Senate panel headed by Sen. Padilla so nothing is impossible, we will be able to talk to our counterparts and I'm sure we're going to reach a consensus on the constitutional convention mode," the Cagayan de Oro representative said.

"I believe it's still constitutional convention. It will be self-serving, there will be allegations that we will be protecting our interests and that is let's leave it to the elected delegates and the appointed ones representing the marginalized sector and the experts," Rodriguez added.

The 1987 Constitution provides for three modes of amending the charter change: a constituent assembly composed of incumbent lawmakers, a constitutional convention comprised of delegates elected by the people, and a people's initiative.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 calling for a constitutional convention.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez sponsored in the plenary House Bill 7352, which contains details on the proposed convention such as how the delegates would be selected, their qualifications, and the duration of their work.

Most of the delegates of the convention would come from each of the 253 legislative districts and to be elected simultaneous with the Oct. 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Meanwhile, 20% of the total number of delegates would be chosen jointly by House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri from identified sectors.

Despite President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s statement that charter change wasn't among his priorities, Rodriguez said the House is determined to amend, in particular, the Constitution's economic provisions.

"We will do it in the House and probably the Senate and if everything is approved, two thirds vote of both Houses, then it is really dependent on the president," said Rodriguez. "The president has the discretion to sign it, or to disapprove it, or to let it lapse into law, 30 days after it's submitted to him."