No to Con-Ass! Yes to Protecting our Democratic Institutions!
In the midst of discussions and move for Charter Change, we, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), the largest network of development civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Philippines, declare our strong opposition on the proposal of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to revise or amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution through a Constituent Assembly or Con-Ass.
We reaffirm our consistent position on this issue underscoring that any amendment or revision in the fundamental law of the land should be carefully undertaken through an objective, deliberate, and participatory process among constitutionalists and experts – an exercise that can be attained through a Constitutional Convention or Con-Con.
It is through Con-Con that citizens can elect experts and competent individuals from various sectors and who can stand as independent delegates that will be convened to study and debate upon sections that necessitate amendment to the Constitution.
We believe that Con-Con will ensure that any amendment to the Constitution will be more responsive to the current times and will embody the principle of a “People’s Constitution” in its provisions.
We reiterate that Con-Ass is a hasty process which mirrors the elitist and impulsive character of the current leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives and gives low regard for transparency and people’s participation.
Speaker Alvarez proposed that Congress convene into a Con-Ass this January in order to catch up for a plebiscite in May 2018 and give way to a shift for a federal system of government, a major agenda by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Senate Pres. Pimentel, on the other hand, trumpets budget consideration by highlighting Con-Con would cost government Php19-Billion, hence, Con-Ass.
We believe these are lame alibis which disregard the kind of respect required by the Philippine Constitution from its leaders and people. A closer look at the budget reveals that the Php19-Billion budget criterion for Con-Con is not even one-fourth of one percent of the Php3.8-Trillion National Government Budget for 2018.
Likewise, we emphasize that there is no need to rush. President Duterte has four years of his six-year term as elected President to allow democracy to work through Con-Con by initiating extensive study and conducting citizens’ consultations thereafter to ensure that the amendments necessary to the Philippine Constitution is reflective of its people’s collective aspirations.
Today, we reaffirm our stand against Con-Ass. We call on President Duterte and the Congress of the Philippines to abandon Con-Ass as a mode to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution and railroad the shift to a federal system of government.