DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 January) — After 13 months, President Rodrigo Duterte has finally named 19 of 25 members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) that would review the 1987 Constitution and submit recommendations on proposed amendments.
Seven of the 19 are Mindanawons, three of them Moro: Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Reuben Canoy, Antonio Arellano, Roan Libarios, Randolph Parcasio, Eddie Alih and Pangalian Balindong.
Six more members will be named by Duterte to complete the 25-member body. The President is pushing for a shift to a federal system of government which requires ramending the Constitution.
Duterte issued Executive Order 10 on December 7, 2016 creating a 25-member ConCom that would be tasked to review the 1987 Constitution and submit recommendations in six months. It took him 13 months to name its members.
The ConCom is mandated 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” and submit its report, recommendations and proposals to the President in six months.
The ConCom is tasked to finish its work “on or before the lapse of six months from the date it is convened” and ceases to exist “upon the President’s transmittal of the Committee’s recommendations and proposals to Congress.”
Duterte signed the appointment papers on January 24, just before leaving for India, Malacanang announced on January 25.
As Duterte had earlier mentioned, the Consultative Committee will be chaired by former Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno.
Pimentel, 84, is a former Senate President, delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention and former Cagayan de Oro City mayor; Canoy, in his 80s, is also a former mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, founder of the Radio Mindanao Network and author of several books on Mindanao,
The two have been pushing for federalism for at least half a century.
Arellano, 67, is a retired regional state prosecutor, a human rights lawyer under the Marcos dictatorship and a member of the government peace panel that negotiated with the National Democratic Front (NDF) until Duterte called off the peace talks in November last year.
Libarios, 59, is a former Vice Governor of Agusan del Norte, former Representative to Congress and former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Libarios was editor in chief of the Philippine Collegian, the campus paper of the University of the Philippines while a student at the College of Law in Diliman.
The three Moro members are Balindong, Alih and Parcasio.
Balindong, 78, is a Meranaw from Lanao del Sur who served as Representative to Congress where he also served as Deputy Speaker for Mindanao; Alih was chancellor of the Mindanao State University in Tawi-tawi from 1995 to 2010 and management consultant of the Regional Ports Management Authority of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao since October 2012. He founded the Muslim Upliftment Foundation of Tawi-Tawi, Inc.
Parcasio, 61, a native of Davao Occidental with Taosug-Maguindanao ancestry, served as Executive Secretary of the ARMM under then Governor Nur Misuari. He chairs the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction under Misuari and is a member of Lihuk Pideral.
Of the seven Mindanawon appointees, only Alih is not a lawyer.
Aside from Puno and the seven Mindanawons, the other members appointed to the 2018 ConCom are former associate justice Bienvenido Reyes; former Supreme Court justice Antonio Nachura; Julio Cabral Teehankee, Professor and former Dean of the De La Salle University’s College of Liberal Arts; Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda College of Law; former Representative of the Cordillera Administrative Region Laurence Wacnang; and Edmund Tayao, executive director of the Local Government Development Foundation.Also named to the ConCom are lawyers Susan Ubalde-Ordinario and Rodolfo Dia Robes, businessman Arthur Aguilar; Virgilio Bautista, former president of the University of Baguio and former Bohol Governor Victor dela Serna.
Set aside differences
The appointment of the 19 ConCom members came hours before Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, as well as Majority leaders Senator Tito Sotto and Rep. Rodolo Farinas met and agreed to “momentarily set aside their differences and focus instead on a comprehensive consultative review of the 1987 Constitution and the finalization of specific constitutional amendments or revisions that will be proposed and presented to the people,” a press release from Pimentel’s office said.
“We have decided to focus on the revisions that have to be made rather than how these changes will be effected,” Pimentel said, adding the
differing legal views on how to amend the Constitution “should not distract us from the crux of this exercise: to make revisions to the charter that will help improve our people’s lives.”
The House of Representatives last week passed a resolution to convene into a Constituent Assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution and maintained the voting should be jointly. The Senate, on the other hands said voting should be done separately.
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments in its hearing on January 16 presented its proposed shift to federalism which would include calling off the 2019 mid-term elections and extending the terms of office of members of Congress and local elective officials until June 30, 2022.
On January 17, at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, resource persons, among them Puno and Pimentel, said the preferred mode of amending the Constitution is through a Constitutional Convention, and in the case of a Constituent Assembly, voting should be done separately. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)