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House panel starts hearing on bills seeking to amend Constitution

The House committee on constitutional amendments on Wednesday kicked off discussions on proposals seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution, including term extension for public officials.

The proposals included bills and resolutions on changing the Charter either by Constitutional Assembly (ConAss), composed of the members of Congress, or a Constitutional Convention (ConCon), wherein the delegates will be elected by the citizens.

Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, asserted that ConCon is the way to go as the public tend to mistrust government officials associated with moves to amend the Constitution.

“There are proposals for Congress to be unicameral, which will affect the Senate. Then there is the issue of conflict of interest because when we propose that we extend our terms, from three to four or five years, then the people will see that these are incumbent members of Congress and people will think that this is for the self-interest for members of Congress,” he said.

“That is why I am constrained, after the experiences in previous Congresses, I am now calling for support for the convening of a ConCon,” he added.

Rodriguez then said he is eyeing to conduct hearings on the pending measures for Charter change every two weeks starting January 2023.

Among the proposals were allowing the president and vice president to run for the same position after finishing their five-year term and relaxing limits on foreign ownership of public utilities which is currently at 40%.

Iloilo Representative Lorenz Defensor, meanwhile, proposed allowing the five most senior justices of the Supreme Court to elect an Associate Justice from the list of three individuals endorsed by the President still based on the evaluation and suggestion of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

The JBC, as provided by the 1987 Constitution, is composed of the Chief Justice as ex officio chairman, the secretary of Justice, representatives of the Congress as ex officio members, a representative of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a professor of law, a retired SC member, and a representative of the private sector.—AOL, GMA Integrated News