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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Senator Pimentel Explains Why Constituent Assembly Is Better Than Con-Con
Senator Pimentel Explains Why Constituent Assembly Is Better Than Con-Con PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Monday, 09 June 2008 00:14

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today explained why he believes it would be much better to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly than to call a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) or launch a people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution and lay the groundwork for a federal system in the country.

Joint Resolution 10, filed by Senator Pimentel and supported by 15 other senators, entrusts the task of amending the 21-year old Constitution to Congress, sitting as a Constituent Assembly.

Mr. Pimentel said a Constituent Assembly is more advantageous in the sense that it is a faster and less expensive process aside from being easier to manage and control.

“Out of the three methods of amending the Constitution, considering all the factors and circumstances, a Constituent Assembly may yet prove to be the most expedient way of doing it,” he said.

Senator Pimentel says some lawmakers have estimated that it would cost the government up to P6 billion if a Con-Con is formed to revise the Charter and adopt a new system of government.He said that while it will probably take years for a Con-Con to do its job, the whole process may be undertaken and completed in a matter of months if it is done by Constituent Assembly.

Senator Pimentel said the Charter amendments that a Constituent Assembly can pursue are limited to those specified in the joint resolution approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives.

He pointed out Joint Resolution 10 identifies the articles and provisions in the Constitution that should be revised or amended. In this way, he said the people will have no reason to suspect that “there is a hidden agenda” behind Charter Change.

In contrast, he said that a Con-Con can tackle practically all sorts of amendments that may be introduced by the elected delegates.

“Conventional wisdom tell us that when you go through the Con-Con route of amending the Constitution, the moment it begins to work, it becomes a sovereign entity,” said Pimentel, who served as a delegate to the 1971 Con-Con which drafted the 1973 Constitution.

Senator Pimentel says that one handicap that senators and congressmen should overcome as members of a Constituent Assembly is the fact that Congress suffers from a credibility problem.

“You cannot stop a Con-Con from what it is doing. You cannot dictate what items it will take up. In other words, anything goes under a Con-Con. And, therefore, if you think you can limit a Con-Con to a certain time-frame, that will not happen.”

Senator Pimentel said some lawmakers have estimated that it would cost the government up to P6 billion if a Con-Con is formed to revise the Charter and adopt a new system of government.

“And, therefore, a Con-Con may prove to be a very costly way of doing things. Number one, you need to hold elections for delegates. After the elections, you have to pay for the salaries and allowances of the delegates and members of their staff. Also, they are entitled to a place where they can hold sessions and hold office. And all of these entail funding,” he explained.

On the other hand, if it through a Constituent Assembly, Mr. Pimentel said the government will practically not incur additional expenses because the 23 senators and 230 or so congressmen who will compose it will use the same session halls and meeting rooms and rely on their present staff members in discharging their amendatory role.

He said one handicap that senators and congressmen should overcome as members of a Constituent Assembly is the fact that Congress suffers from a credibility problem.

Senator Pimentel noted that majority of the senators who used to favor a Con-Con have realized the wisdom of switching their preference to a Constituent Assembly, which has long been the favored mode of amendments among members of the House of Representatives. # # #



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Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2008 00:20
 

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