Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon doused cold water on House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ projections on holding a plebiscite for Charter change (Cha-cha) in time for the barangay and Sangguiniang Kabataan elections in May 2018.
Drilon said he does not think Cha-cha would be ready for referendum by May especially because lawmakers and proponents have yet to agree on the mode of amending the Constitution.
“That’s a timeframe too close and improbable,” he said.
“Amending the Constitution would take some time and need not be rushed and railroaded. I am not against it. What I’m saying is, we should exercise extra caution when we talk about amending our Constitution,” Drilon added.
For one, the minority leader pointed out the impending impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno which, according to reports, would be forwarded to the Senate by May 2018.
“Second, the second half of 2018 is when election fever would take place. How can that timeframe be possible?” he asked.
The Senate has so far conducted only one public hearing on Cha-cha and senators are pushing for a a constitutional convention (Con-Con) and not Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) preferred by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies.
In the said Senate hearing, Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea told the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes when it was still under the chairmanship of Drilon that the President planned to create a constitutional study group composed of 24 members.
“Unfortunately up to this point, wala pang natatanggap ang Senado na official positions. Hindi rin namin alam kung nabuo yung constitutional study group. Ang aking maalaala, ang ibig nilang i-tap na mamumuno nito ay si former Chief Justice (Reynato) Puno. Up to now, wala pang naisusumite sa amin,” he said.
“Ang pagpaamyenda ng saligang batas ay trabaho ng kongreso at hindi ng executive branch. Ang trabaho ng kapulungan ay hindi dumadaan sa Malakanyang kundi dederetso sa isang plebesito,” Drilon added.
“Unang-una, kailangan desisyunan kung ang ibig ba natin ay Con-Ass at sang-ayon ba ang Senado diyan. Dalawang kapulungan kami at hindi naman kami pwedeng diktahan ng Kamara na dapat Con-Ass ang paraan sa pag-amyenda. Wala pong ganong consensus sa Senado,” he said.
Under Con-con, the members of the convention are elected, Drilon noted.