PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday ordered the consultative committee he formed to review the 1987 Constitution to wrap up its work within the year to give Congress enough time to act on the proposed amendments, including his push towards federalism and a defined territory for the Bangsamoro.
“Just enough time for Congress to act on it—I want it done this year … We do not want to hang,” Duterte told reporters in Davao City on his return from a three-day working visit in New Delhi, India.
While there is no need to procrastinate, Duterte insists he does not want to “waste time” and the next four years will present an opportunity to do something for the country.
The President said funding for Charter change should not be an issue.
“If there’s a cost, so be it. It might result in violence, we avoid it,” he added.
On Thursday, Duterte named 19 of the 24-member consultative committee on amending the 1987 Constitution, led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice and Manila Standard’s chief Legal Adviser Reynato Puno as its chairman.
Also appointed to the commission were San Beda Law Dean and Manila Standard columnist Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., former Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo Nachura and Bienvenido Reyes, political scientists Julio Teehankee and Edmund Tayao, among others.
On December 2016, Duterte signed Executive Order 10 creating a consultative committee to review the 1987 Constitution—written by a Corazon Aquino-appointed Constitutional Commission in 1986—to ensure that it was “truly reflective of the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the Filipino people.”
Asked for his preference if he wanted the languishing Bangsamoro Basic Law passed first before Charter change, Duterte maintained the executive could “either figure out new regions” if he can do it administratively without violating any provision in the 1987 Constitution.
“[But] if it’s only a matter of laws, then we can ask Congress for the corresponding change.”
He also asked Moro separatist groups to avoid resorting to violence, as the government was already working towards correcting historical injustices.
“I’m pleading to the Moro people to give government a chance to work out something. That’s the last thing that I would want to happen to my country—to go again and wage war against their own people.”
“So let’s avoid violence. If the thing that we are working at now does not fit, your paradigm of what you want, we can always talk and change everything.”
Recently, the Senate and the House leadership agreed to focus on “substance” and temporarily set aside disputes on whether the two houses of Congress should vote jointly or separately if the legislature were to convene as a constituent assembly to tackle proposed amendments to the organic law.