Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile (File photo) 

MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile still believes that the constitutional assembly (con-ass) mode to introduce amendments to the 1987 Constitution makes better sense rather than convening a constitutional convention (con-con).

In an interview over SMNI on Saturday, Enrile questioned the decision of a House of Representatives to approve a resolution calling for a Con-con to amend the charter.

“Bakit gusto ng Kongreso Con-con? Naku! Kung gagawin mong constituent assembly, milyon lang ang gagastusin mo. Pag con-con, bilyon-bilyon na naman ‘yan (Why does Congress prefer con-con? Under the constituent assembly, you’ll only need millions, but if con-con, billions),” he said.

Earlier, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Krystal Uy said that holding a con-con is more expensive than holding a con-ass with around PHP10 billion difference between the two modes of amending the Constitution.

Enrile said he preferred con-ass because the con-con will use up the little funds of the government to pay for the salaries of the delegates of the convention and travel allowance.

“…All you have to do is remove some of the provisions that you want to remove and you have a ready-made, well-discussed, well-prepared, well-studied and well-deliberated Constitutional provision that was already used in the Philippines,” the former Senate president added.

Under con-ass, Congress sits down to propose amendments to the Constitution while the proposed con-con requires the regions to elect representatives who will suggest amendments to the Charter.

Enrile likewise emphasized the need to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution, which he said hindered the country from development.

“Yung mga economic provisions baguhin na natin para mabilis ang paglago ng ekonomiya ng Pilipinas (We should amend the economic provisions to allow the speedy growth of the Philippine economy). We cannot at any time afford to develop our own country. We do not have enough capital for it, utang ng utang tayo (we keep borrowing money). We should encourage foreign direct investment dito sa ating bansa para hindi tayo mangungutang sa kanila (in our country so that we don’t have to borrow from them),” he said.

He also wanted to remove anti-nuclear provisions in the charter, comparing them to “tying up the country’s hands.”

“Yung mga kapaligiran natin magkakaroon ng nuclear, tayo hindi. Ikaw ayaw mo? Sino ka? Anong gagawin mo para mapangalagaan mo ang seguridad ng Pilipinas at hindi aapihin ng mga kapitbahay mo (The other nations are using nuclear and we’re not. You don’t want it? Who are you? What are you going to do to safeguard the security of the Philippines and make sure our neighbors do not oppress us)?” he added.

On March 14, the House approved on the third and final reading a measure implementing Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which calls for a hybrid 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. (PNA)