Duterte supports con-ass to amend Charter — Roque

MANILA — President Duterte is amenable to the proposed convening of Congress into a constituent assembly to introduce amendments to the Constitution, particularly the shift to a federal form of government.

The con-ass proposal however has not been formally discussed in Malacañang as the President leaves to the discretion of Congress the decision on the matter, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

“It has never been discussed in the Palace. Of course, the President has expressed a preference for con-ass,” Roque said during a Palace news conference.
“But there has not been any formal discussion. It is a decision made by Congress itself,” he added.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the constituent assembly method would be high on the agenda of the House of Representatives this year. Once Congress convenes into a constituent assembly this month, Alvarez suggested that a proposed federal charter could be submitted for referendum this May.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon however opposed plans of the administration allies in Congress to railroad the plebiscite for the proposed federalism system.

Drilon added that the Senate and the House of Representatives should vote separately in the event Congress proposes Charter change through con-ass.
A three-fourth vote of Congress is necessary to convene con-ass.

Asked if the President will certify the federalism measure as urgent, Roque said he would still check with the President about the matter.

He said it was up to Congress to decide which proposal – federalism or the Bangsamoro Basic Law –would be prioritized.

“Congress is still a separate branch of government. We leave it to the leadership and the members of the Congress to agree on their legislative priorities,” he added.