DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 April) — President Rodrigo Duterte will name the 25 members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) that would review the 1987 Constitution and make recommendations towards a shift to federalism, after the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is submitted and there is substantial progress in the peace process with the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“I will not name them until I get the hard copy of the agreements between the…,” Duterte said without finishing his sentence. “Lahat (All),” the President said at the press conference Monday at the Davao International Airport here before boarding the plane for Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Duterte is in the Middle East for state visits in Saudi, Bahrain and Qatar and will return to the country on April 16.
Duterte signed EO 10 on December 7, 2016, creating a Consultative Committee composed of not more than 25 members, 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.”
Four months after the signing of the EO, however, the President has yet to name its members.
On March 13, Duterte was asked in a press conference in Malacanang with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Jr., for an update on the ConCom. He replied: “I am just waiting for the Bangsamoro draft.”
He said he has to call “for the best of minds” to be in the ConCom.
“Remember, the persons (who) will be selected here to form the (ConCom) ‘yun lang pinaka-bright…. with integrity and all,” he said, adding he was open to suggestions on who should be named.
Asked on Monday if he is also waiting for substantial progress in the peace process with the NDF, particularly on the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR), Duterte replied “yes.”
The peace processes with the Bangsamoro fronts (Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and with the NDF are currently being worked out within the framework of the 1987 Constitution.
Drafting the BBL is the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), composed of 11 nominees from the MILF and 10 from the government (GPH). The BTC is also mandated “whenever necessary, to recommend to Congress or the people proposed amendments” to the 1987 Constitution.
In the GRP-NDF peace process, the Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutiona Reforms have formally exchanged full drafts of the tentative agreement on the PCR.
“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.
He said the aspirations of the communists are “really the same aspiration of all Filipinos, halos pareho” (almost the same).”
“We have to build our own industry. Sabihin nila, maraming mura ngayon … Kung magkagulo ang mundo saan tayo magkuha ng steel natin? (They say steel is cheap nowadays … But if the world is in trouble, where will we get steel?) We steal? Mangawat ta (We steal) or we make our own? So those are the things that they are asking to which I fully agree,” he said.
CAPCR after CASER
In his opening remarks at the start of the 4th round of formal peace talks in The Netherlands on April 3, NDF chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison, Duterte’s professor in Political Thought at the Lyceum of the Philippines, said the CAPCR “can be forged and signed by the panels within three months after (the signing of the) CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) because the drafting is already done in advance by the Reciprocal Working Groups on CAPCR.”
“As I stated previously, the NDFP is willing to co-found the Federal Republic of the Philippines with the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and cooperate in making the necessary amendments in the 1987 GRP Constitution, provided provisions are retained to prevent dictatorship, dynasties and corruption, uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect human rights, realize social justice and ban foreign military bases, forces and weapons of mass destruction,” Sison said.
The fifth round in the GRP-NDF formal peace talks is on May 26 to June 2 in Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, where the fourth round of talks was held.
Duterte said the communists can recommend names for appointment to the ConCom. As can the Moro and Lumads and other sectors as the President told Malacanang reporters on March 13 that he was “open to suggestions on who should be named to the ConCom.”
EO 10 provides that the ConCom shall, “as far as practicable, represent the different sectors of the country” and its members must be a natural-born citizen and a resident of the Philippines, at least 25 years old, a qualified voter, “and of recognized probity, independence, nationalism, patriotism and expertise on field.”
The Executive Secretary or his designated representative “shall act as an observer during the ConCom deliberations.
The ConCom, according to EO 10, “shall endeavor to complete its work on or before the lapse of six months from the date it is convened.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)