House nod of con-ass for charter change seen by January

MANILA -- A leader in the House of Representatives said on Monday he expects the plenary approval of a resolution calling on Congress to constitute itself as a constituent assembly (con-ass) to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution by January next year.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chair of the House constitutional amendments committee, said House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) No. 9, which proposes con-ass as a mode for a charter change, already has a committee report that consolidated several measures.

"I am confident HCR No. 9 can be expedited and be ready by or before January 2018... The House is, therefore, able to back up Speaker Pantaleon Bebot Alvarez when he meets Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel, III," Mercado said.

Alvarez earlier said Congress will likely convene into a constituent assembly early next year to craft a new constitution that would enable our country to shift to a federal form of government.

The shift to federalism is among the top legislative priorities of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) and one of the main campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Mercado also said his committee will submit the final draft of the Philippine federal constitution this December to the House committee on rules chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas.

The House constitutional amendments panel has created four technical working groups to draft the Philippine Federal Constitution to expedite the deliberations.

"The draft charter builds upon the proposal of the PDP-Laban Federalism Institute. It is consistent with the ideas of President Rodrigo Duterte on what the new charter ought to have and contains solutions to the country's economic problems, especially poverty, the peace and order situation, and the fight against illegal drugs," Mercado said.

"We have support from our colleagues in the House to get their approval on HCR No. 9 in the near-term and on the proposed amendments when Congress is convened as a constituent assembly," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency