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Alvarez eyes constitutional commission

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is set to ask President Duterte to issue an executive order that would create a 20-man constitutional commission to draft a new charter as their plan to push for Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) drew flak from various stakeholders, including some lawmakers.

He said the commission will be composed of constitutional law experts, including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Puno, former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, former mayor Reuben Canoy, San Beda College of Law dean Ranhilio Aquino and former senator and broadcaster Orly Mercado.

“Nalulungkot ako na medyo negatibo ang dating nito dahil nga siguro sa nasirang tiwala ng bayan sa Kongreso,” Alvarez said in a radio interview.

The Speaker had earlier pushed for Con-Ass as a mode of amending the Constitution because it is less costly and would make the work faster.

“Noong weekend, napag-isipan ko na pwede nating bigyan ng lunas ang pangamba ng taumbayan. We will propose to the President to issue an executive order that will form the constitutional commission,” he said.

Alvarez said the commission will be responsible in the drafting of the new charter, and the draft will be submitted to Congress, sitting as a Con-Ass will scrutinize and vote on the draft charter.

The people’s sentiment on the final draft will be then gauged through a plebiscite that would coincide with the 2019 midterm elections.

“Maybe the draft will be ready in six months, and then Congress as a constituent assembly, can start the debate. The people are free to participate in the debates,” Alvarez said.

He said the commission can immediately jumpstart its work, while Congress will be preoccupied in passing priority measures, including the 2017 national budget.

“At the end of the day, it is still the people who will decide if they want the new Constitution through a plebiscite,” he added. (CHARISSA M. LUCI)