DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 January) — Whatever happened to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 10 which he signed on December 7, 2016, creating a 25-member Consultative Committee (ConCom) to review the 1987 Constitution and recommend amendments?
Duterte told MindaNews in a sit-down interview at the Presidential Guest House late Friday afternoon that he is “waiting for the draft of the 25-member Commission.”
Duterte was apparently referring to the Committee which he has yet to name.
“Yeah I did not because it is not yet time to mention them,” he said.
Asked if he has appointed its members, Duterte replied: “Naano ko na. Binasa ko muna yung isa’t isa (I read one by one their) biodata, or what you would call resume.”
Congress, in fact, had stopped waiting for the President to name his ConCom members and went ahead with its plan to focus on converting Congress into a Constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution when it resumes sessions on January 15.
Asked when he will name the ConCom members, Duterte replied, “nandyan na yan. (It’s there). Then by the time they (the two houses of Congress) are ready to resume (sessions) after Holy Week, they (ConCom members) can be called by Congress, each one of them and every one of them to present the structure, whatever.”
He said he has not named the ConCom members “because I was waiting for the Bangsamoro … hindi kumpleto yun eh. There must be enough representation and the Lumads wala pa yun. Kulang.”
“When will you name them?” MindaNews asked. “Nandyan na nga. Binabasa ko lang. Maybe before the … I don’t know … a matter of days,” the President said.
“Within the month?” MindaNews asked.
“Do not worry. We’re still in the month of January,” Duterte said.
38 session days to June 1
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr., in an interview over ANC’s Headstart on January 3, said he hopes a plebiscite on the Constitutional Amendments would be held alongside the barangay elections in May this year. Congress postponed the Ocotber 2017 polls to May 14 this year.
Duterte said “pwede” (possible) of Alvarez’ May 14, 2018 target but he also said Congress will listen to the recommendations of his ConCom when sessions resume after the Holy Week break. Resumption of sessions after the Holy Week, according to the congressional calendar is May 14.
A May 2018 plebiscite, however, does not appear to be feasible as the Constitution provides that a plebiscite to ratify the amendments “shall be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the approval of such amendment or revision.”
Duterte said Congress will listen to the recommendations of the ConCom members after the Holy Week break.
There are only 38 session days (Mondays to Wednesdays) between January 15 and June 1: 30 bteween January and March and eight between May and June as the May 14 election is a non-working day.
Congress resumes sessions on January 15 to March 23 (30 Monday to Wednesday session days), will take a break on March 24 to May 13 and resume sessions on May 14 to June 1.
There are 38 session days (Mondays to Wednesdays) between January 15 and June 1: 30 bteween January and March and eight between May and June as the May 14 election is a non-working day.
Duterte during the Presidential campaign pushed for a Constitutional Convention (ConCon) as the best method to amend the Constitution but early on in his Presidency, abandoned the idea as it was going to cost the country billions of pesos.
To ensure representation of various sectors, he issued EO 10 on December 7, 2016, creating the 25-member ConCom to “study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution including but not limited to the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies,” submit its recommendations to the President and the President would submit it to Congress.
Thirteen months later, the President has yet to name its members.
Waiting for the draft Bangsamoro law
In March last year, Duterte said he would wait for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before naming the ConCom members.
“Yes, I am just waiting for the Bangsamoro draft. Kaya baka… Para I can give the guidance also to… You know, I have to call also for the best of minds. Remember, the persons that will be selected here to form the commission ‘yun lang pinaka-bright at ‘yung walang — with integrity and all,” he told Malacanang reporters on March 13 last year.
Duterte has said the BBL will be passed ahead of the shift to federalism.
A month later, on April 10, Duterte, in response to MindaNews’ query on when he would name the ConCom, told a press conference at the airport before departing for the Middle East that he will not name the ConCom members “until I get the hard copy of the agreements between the…,” Duterte said without finishing his sentence. “Lahat (All),” the President said.
“I have to look at the composition. You know the nuances, the bigotry, the penchant to … So I have to select the men who will craft the Constitution vis-à-vis with the crowd here,” Duterte added.
The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which he tasked to draft the BBL, submitted its draft nearly five months ago — on July 17 last year.
Congress is bent on tackling the Constitutional Amendments as a Constituent Assembly when it resumes sessions on January 15 so what will the still-to-be-named ConCom do?
“They (Congress) are tackling so they (ConCom) are part of those tackling them,” he said.
“But how can they participate when there has been no announcement on who will compose the ConCom, the President asked.
“Hindi man kailangan (to announce). There’s no need. The moment does not need it,” he replied.
“Just leave them be. They can work on it,” adding their work is “purely recommendatory lang man kasi yan. Congress is not bound (by its recommendations).
Asked who are these 25 members, Duterte said retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno is “my number one.”
“Puro halos ano, ex Justice” (Most are ex justices), he said.
He said there are also Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) and Moro people in the ConCom but did not name them.
Asked if lawyer Randolph Parcasio, is among htem, he said yes. Parcasio is spokesperson of Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuar.
Duterte announced Parcasio’s inclusion in the ConCom during a meeting with Misuari on July 18. Parcasio was a member of the Misuari delegatino.
Asked how many more Moro would be part of the ConCom, he replied “ewan ko basta’t binigyan ko sila lahat.”
EO 10 provides that the ConCom must, “as far as practicable, represent the different sectors of the country.”
The EO also states that the ConCom “shall endeavor to complete its work on or before the lapse of six months from the date it is convened.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)