A New Constitution there will be, believe it or not

There is need to do a careful study of the Comparative Matrix of Constitutional Convention Measures prepared by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments of the House of Representatives. It must have been faithfully as it is dutifully done by the concerned Technical Working Group so created and tasked to do this job.

This mutely historical document comes all in 33 pages that take into account the following legislative measures on the subject filed by the following House Members:

1. House Concurrent Resolution No. 03 by Rep. Felix R. Alfelor, Jr.
2. House Bill No. 1752 by Rep. Raul T. Gonzales, Jr.
3. House Bill No. 3149 by Rep. Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra
4. House Bill No. 3473 by Rep. Carmelo F. Lazatin
5. House Concurrent Resolution No. 17 & House Bill No. 4075 by Rep. Victor F. Ortega (Committee Chair)
6. House Resolution No. 858 by Rep. Rene M. Velarde
7. House Bill No. 5564 by Rep. Joseph Emilio A. Abaya
8. House Joint Resolution No. 28 by Rep. Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon
9. House Bill No. 5700 by Rep. Antonio V. Cuenco
10. TWG Recommendation

Since the TWG has met and discussed all these measures among themselves, it may be presumed that the recommendations made by the group are a product of democratic consensus. Let us put this forth as a tentative hypothesis.

All a reader needs to do, without having to read the individual measure in its own ontology, is to go over every recommendation made by the TWG which is found at the bottom right corner of the comparative matrix or tabulation. And the highlights may be as follows:

a. Short Title – A Constitutional Convention is hereby constituted to propose amendments to, or revision of, the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. This law shall be known as the “Constitutional Convention Act of 2010”. (Ortega)
b. Composition – The Constitutional Convention shall be composed of Delegates, one for every congressional district of the Republic of the Philppines, in the number of districts which will be voted upon on the May 10, 2010 elections. (Alfelor, Gonzales, Mitra, Ortega & TWG)
c. Qualifications – Delegates shall have the same qualifications as those required of Members of the House of Representatives. (Alfelor, Gonzales, Ortega, Abaya, Biazon & Cuenco)
d. Completion – The Convention shall endeavor to complete its work within one (1) year from the time of its organization. (Biazon & TWG)
e. Election of Delegates – The election of delegates to the Convention shall be held on the second Monday of May 2010 simultaneous with the national and local elections in the year 2010. The certificate of candidacy of a candidate for Delegate shall be filled in the same manner as that provided by the Omnibus Election Code with respect to the candidates for the House of Representatives. The Commission on Elections shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the conduct of such election. (Alfelor, Mitra, Ortega, Abaya, Biazon & Cuenco)
f. Who May Convene – The Chairman of the Commission on Elections, assisted by the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House of Representatives, shall take charge of all arrangements for the convening of the Constitutional Convention. (Biazon)
g. Commencement of Session – The Convention shall meet in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives on the first Monday of July 2010 at ten o’clock in the morning. Xxx
h. Parliamentary Immunity – Laws relative to parliamentary immunity of Members of Congress shall be applicable to the delegates of the Convention. (Biazon)
i. Convention Report – The Convention shall submit its report to the President and the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, and the Commission on Elections within (30) days from the completion of the consolidated amendments, or revision. (Gonzales)
j. Ratification – The amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution proposed by the Convention shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty (60) days nor later than ninety (90) days after the approval of such amendments or revision. (Ortega)
k. COMELEC Authority – The Commission on Elections shall issue such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this Act. (Gonzales)
l. Separability Clause – If any provision of this Act shall be declared unconstitutional, any other provision not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect. (Abaya)
m. Repeal Clause – All other laws, rules, regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this act are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly. (Cuenco)
n. Effectivity – This Act shall take effect fifteen days after its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation. (Cuenco)

If we have to connect the dots, the final configuration that would be molded from the TWG’s deliberations might – to every serious mind – find it suffering from any given number of moral, legal, and constitutional flaws. But that must be a work in legal scholarship altogether. At bottom, here are but few naked facts readable from the TWG’s recommendations:

1. A period of one (1) year is prescribed for the Convention to complete its work.
2. Amendments to or revision of the Constitution shall be ratified by a majority votes cast in a plebiscite held not earlier than sixty (60) days nor later than ninety (9) days after approval of such amendments or revision.
3. A period of thirty (30) days is prescribed for the Convention to submit its Convention Report to the President, Congress, and COMELEC.

An ordinary reading will tell us that the oppositionist’s misconception that time is running out or that there will be no material time to effect Charter Change and to erect the new Constitution but falls as a myth. In other words, as far as the present ruling bloc is concerned, the future of a forthcoming charter change is bright not bleak. Making sure all requirements are met, the House Concurrent Resolution (in its revised form) is already accompanied by an unnumbered House Bill which seeks to implement the former.

Under the convenient assumption that no sector of society militates against a Constitutional Convention, what would now stop the train of charter change to reach station, pray tell? Where signs indicate, the amendments or revision of the Constitution are about done and who knows the whole dish is ready for the serving. And our clueless voting public will be glad to approve of an amended or revised Constitution since they will benefit from the Pantawid Pamilya Program which comes in cash dole outs come that appointed time.

From where I stand, there are not enough activists in this country to stand in the way of the final launching of the New Constitution. They can pull the rag from under our feet, believe me.