House senior deputy minority leader and Buhay Rep. Lito on Sunday renewed his support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to revise the 1987 Constitution, and called for the election of constitutional convention delegates alongside the 2019 mid-term polls.
“Congress should waste no time in calling for a constitutional convention now, and forget about simply mustering itself into a constituent assembly to propose changes to the charter,” Atienza said.
Atienza pointed out that the President himself strongly advocated a constitutional convention while he was still campaigning for the presidency in 2016 and immediately after he was elected into office.
“In fact, congressional records will show that owing to the President’s early pronouncements favoring a constitutional convention, many of us in the House and in the Senate scrambled in July 2016 to file bills and resolutions calling for a constitutional convention,” Atienza said.
The extra budget required by a constitutional convention should not dissuade Congress, according to Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila.
“We should not hesitate to invest in the preparation of a new Constitution that could free up the national economy from the clutches of oligarchs, build genuine peace and order, provide full employment and guarantee every Filipino family a rising standard of living,” Atienza said.
“The budget for a constitutional convention is a sensible investment in the future of our children and grandchildren. In no way should we consider it an improvident expense,” he said.
“This is the first time in more than 30 years that we will be rewriting the Constitution. We might as well invest wisely in perfecting a truly responsive and highly relevant new charter through a constitutional convention,” Atienza said.
In previous administrations, attempts by Congress to convene into a constituent assembly were rejected by the public, mainly due to fears that lawmakers might introduce self-serving amendments, including the removal of restrictions to the number of terms they and their family members may serve in elected offices.
“If we again insist on a constituent assembly, we clearly risk repeating the blunders of the past, and we might lose this great opportunity for our nation to embrace a whole new Constitution,” Atienza warned.
At present, the 1987 Constitution limits the terms of members of the House of Representatives as well as local government officials to three successive three-year terms. The Constitution also limits the terms of senators to no more than two successive six-year terms.
In a constitutional convention, the people will elect representatives who will recommend revisions to the Constitution.
In a constituent assembly, Congress itself sits down to put forward amendments to the Constitution.
In both cases, the proposed changes will require final direct approval by the people in a referendum.(House of Representatives)