House pushes new Cha-Cha plan

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE House of Representatives will start hearing three proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution today.

The committee on constitutional amendments, headed by Rep. Victor Ortega (La Union), will consider the resolutions filed separately by Rep. Felix Afelor Jr. (Camarines Sur), Rep. Edelmiro Amante (Agusan del Sur), and Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Cebu).

In his resolution, Amante cited the “overwhelming clamor” of the majority that the Constitution be amended to make it more responsive to their needs.

He said the best way to amend the Constitution was through a Constitutional Convention to be composed of non-partisan delegates elected directly by the people, along with barangay officials, in November 2008.

The panel will also hear two bills that provide financing for Charter Change activities.

In his bill, Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. said delegates to a Con-Con would have a one-year term to amend the Constitution, excluding the ratification process.

The delegates would have the same privileges as congressmen, he said.

He criticized the Charter as among the longest in the world.

“Aside from this verbosity, the present Constitution is also being criticized for lacking in clarity, depth and comprehensiveness,” he said.

Gonzalez said there were 99 “ambiguous” provisions in the Constitution still awaiting legislation today, a full 20 years after its passage.

“The current Charter perpetuates and even promotes a system that hinders our nation’s march toward political maturity,” said Gonzalez, adding that its so-called nationalist provisions had been proven counter-productive to economic growth.

“We cannot operate under a Constitution that requires simple literacy for one to occupy the highest elective official of the land. We cannot have a government held hostage by events in Metro Manila,” Gonzalez said.

Today’s hearing will also tackle a bill providing for a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution filed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr., and another resolution from Bohol Rep. Jose Solis seeking to adopt the proposed amendments submitted by the Consultative Commission in 2005.

The proposals by the commission would spur countryside development and institute greater and more meaningful autonomy to local governments, Ablan said.