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Sotto: No need to overhaul Constitution, just amendments

Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III believes that only amendments to the Constitution instead of an entire overhaul will be made if country transitions into a federal system.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, Sotto said most of his fellow senators are not in favor of changing the entire Constitution.

"Ang tingin ko hindi Charter change ang mangyayari. Ang tingin ko amendments to the Constitution ang mangyayari... Ang mangyayari doon ay yung mahahalagang probisyon na lang ang pag-usapan," he said.

"Amendments to the Constitution [lang]. Baka may mga revision na parte, kung talagang ipipilit or magugustuhan ng karamihan ang parliamentary form, or yung federalism. Yun ang malalaking issue na pag-uusapan pero the rest, for example, economic provisions, pwede mong ilagay doon ang isang catchphrase... 'as may be provided by law,'" he added.

The Duterte administration has been pushing for a shift to a federal form of government as a means to address issues particularly in strife-torn Mindanao.

In an earlier interview, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that in order to do that, the Congress may decide to convene in a constituent assembly this month.

If so, the proposed new federal charter may be submitted for a referendum simultaneously with the scheduled Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this May.

Sotto said a constituent assembly is the easiest way to make amendments to the Constitution, as compared to constitutional convention as suggested by some critics.

"Mahinang-mahina, payat na payat ang dalawang taon sa constitutional convention, kung full-blown, na gusto ng iba. Bukod sa napakatagal, napakagastos. Dodoblehin mo ang kasalukuyang budget ng Congress at ng Senado para ma-achieve mo ang constitutional convention," he said.

"Gastos pa, mag-eelect ka ng mga delegado. So mag-eeleksyon, full blown elections yan kasi lahat ng districts represented. In other words, talagang remote. Kung hindi lang talaga napakapangit ng Constitution natin, hindi nararapat na magkaroon ng constitutional convention sapagkat sobrang hirap, sobrang tagal, sobrang gastos," he added.

Sotto estimates that if there are no big revisions to the Constitution, the constituent assembly may finish making proposals by May this year.

"Kapag pag-uusapan kasama yung federalism, kasama yung parliamentary form, medyo hindi kayang ipangako yung Mayo. Depende rin, tignan natin," he added. — Erwin Colcol/BM, GMA News