House panel OKs con-con bill; P10K per day compensation eyed for delegates
The House constitutional amendments committee on Monday approved the accompanying bill and committee report of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 providing for the formation of a hybrid constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution.
The proposed measure, which also sets a P10,000 per day salary for each delegate, garnered 17 "yes" votes, two "no" votes and zero abstention during Monday's deliberations.
Under the measure, the con-con will be composed of at least 304 delegates, majority of which will be elected by the public.
Of the said number, 20% will be reserved for qualified sectoral representatives to be appointed by the President.
House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas opposed the con-con bill’s approval, saying a P10,000 compensation for each delegate is a punch in the gut for ordinary workers.
"Sa accompanying bill, nakasaad na P10,000 ang ibibgay sa kada araw na lalahok ang delegado ng con-con. Halos minimum wage na ito ng isang manggagawa sa isang buong buwan. Sa sumatotal, magkano ang gagastusin dito?" Brosas said.
(The bill provides a P10,000 compensation per day for each con-con delegate. It's almost the same as the minimum monthly wage of a laborer. In total, how much are we spending for this effort?)
"Mahirap tanggapin na may P10,000 per diem na ibibigay habang walang pondo sa mga mamamayang nanawagan ng ayuda para sa buong pamilya nila sa gitna ng mataas na presyo at krisis."
(It is hard to accept that we have P10,000 per diem to give to the delegates when we can't shell fund for our people seeking assistance amid the soaring prices of basic commodities.)
During the deliberations, Kabayan party-list Representative Ron Salo tried to push for an amendment that states that the 20% of the con-con delegation seats for sectoral representatives be allocated to existing accredited party-list groups by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), including party-list groups that won a seat in Congress in the 2022 elections.
Salo argued that the 20% allocation for Comelec-accredited party-list groups is in order given that the party-list law and related Supreme Court decisions already provide that party-list groups represent the marginalized sectors of society.
"Instead of identifying those particular sectors [that need to be represented in the Con-con], we should just state that the 20% will be coming from the party-list system because there is already a law and jurisprudence on these, and these are already being implemented,” Salo said.
"We don't have to change how it is being implemented now," he added.
Salo’s motion, however, went nowhere as it only got six favorable votes as against 11 opposition votes and four abstentions.
Salo then vowed to push for such an amendment come plenary debates.
"May I respectfully manifest my reservation to raise this matter on the [plenary] floor," he said.
"You can certainly be able to debate this in the plenary [floor]," said Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, the panel chairperson, said in response.
Con-con is one of the ways to amend the 1987 Constitution as provided by the same charter.
Under the Constitution, Congress, by a vote of two thirds of all its members, may call a constitutional convention to change the Constitution.
The Constitution, however, is not explicit on whether the House of Representatives and the Senate should vote jointly or separately.
The 1987 Constitution also states that any amendment to, or revision of the Constitution will be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the approval of such amendment or revision.
Any amendment will also be deemed valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the sufficiency of the petition.
At the end of the deliberations, Brosas was firm that the country is not in need of Charter change.
"Mr. Chair, we are firm in our belief that amending or revising the Constitution will not directly address the urgent economic concerns of Filipino women and people," she said. —KBK, GMA Integrated News