House OKs bill calling for hybrid con-con to amend Charter

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

March 14, 2023, 7:45 pm

<p><em>(Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)</em></p>

(Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on the third and final reading a measure implementing Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which calls for a hybrid constitutional convention (con-con) to propose amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

With 301 affirmative votes, seven negative votes and no abstention, the chamber passed on third reading House Bill (HB) 7352, which is the accompanying bill to RBH 6.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, author of the bill, said the House constitutional reform initiative aims to rewrite the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution to enable the country to attract more foreign investments.

“We need more foreign capital to create additional job and income opportunities for our people. Increased investments will sustain our economic growth,” he said.

He said relaxing the Charter’s economic provisions would enhance the investment and economic space in the country.

The bill proposes the seven-month term of office of the convention starting from December 1, 2023, up to June 30, 2024.

Under the measure, Charter amendments to be endorsed by the proposed con-con shall be submitted to the people for ratification in a plebiscite to be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the submission of the convention report to the President and Congress.

The envisioned con-con shall be composed of elected delegates, one from each legislative district, to be voted on Oct. 30, 2023.

The con-con shall also have sectoral representatives, comprising 20 percent of the total number of delegates, to be appointed jointly by the Senate President and the House Speaker.

The appointed sectoral representatives shall include three retired members of the judiciary, three from the academe, three from the legal profession, two economists, and two each from the business sector, labor, urban poor, farmers and fisherfolk, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, veterans, cooperatives, senior citizens and persons with disability, and such other sectors as the Senate President and House Speaker may determine.

The Senate president and House Speaker shall appoint the appointive members within 15 days before the start of the convention.

A delegate must at least be 25 years of age on the day of the election or appointment, at least a college degree holder, must be a registered voter in the district in which the delegate shall be elected, and a resident for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) shall issue implementing rules and regulations for the election of con-con members.

Officers and members of all political parties or coalitions shall be prohibited from nominating, fielding, endorsing, supporting, or campaigning for any candidate for con-con delegate.

No aspirant shall represent or allow himself/herself to be represented as a candidate of a political party/coalition.

Any person holding public office, including members of the armed forces, shall be considered resigned upon the filing of his certificate of candidacy for con-con delegate.

Any person elected or appointed to the convention shall not be eligible to run in the first local or national elections after the ratification of the proposed amendments, or appointed to any government position while the convention is in session and within one year after its adjournment.

A con-con delegate shall enjoy the same parliamentary immunity accorded to a member of Congress.

The Senate, the House, and other government agencies shall make available personnel, facilities, equipment, or office space needed by the convention without hampering public service.

The con-con shall submit its report to the President, Congress and Comelec within 30 days after the completion of the proposed amendments or on June 30, 2024.

Funding for the convention shall initially be charged against any available appropriations in the 2023 national budget and subsequently included in next year’s budget proposal. (PNA)