MANILA - Senate President Franklin Drilon on Thursday said there is a consensus among senators to amend the 1987 Constitution to shift to allow a shift to a federal form of government proposed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Drilon said amending the Constitution can be done through a constituent assembly or constitutional convention.
He said senators should be given a deadline if a constitutional convention is called to change the current system of government.
"Kasi pagbuo po ng Constitutional Convention, iyan po ay independent body at magde-debate sila ng kung ilang tao. Kaya kailangan natin na sige mag-con-con tayo pero tapusin niyo sa loob ng dalawa, tatlong taon. Hindi pwedeng sabihin nating, con-con bahala kayo sa buhay niyo. Baka 10 taon kayo magde-debate,” he said.
Duterte earlier said he wants the shift to a federal form of government to go through a constitutional convention composed of elected delegates.
Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the incoming President rejected a constituent assembly, which will be composed of incumbent lawmakers, saying he did not want to create the impression that he was "dictating" on Congress.
Duterte prefers federal shift via 'con-con,' Suarez says
In the interview, Drilon said the Senate under the leadership of incoming Senate president Aquilino ''Koko'' Pimentel III will be supportive of the Duterte presidency.
"We will be cooperative, but not subservient... Hindi kami 'amen' nang 'amen,'" he said.
Drilon earlier said 16 or 17 senators are backing Pimentel as the new Senate President. None of the senators have changed allegiances, he said.
READ: Koko confirms he's next Senate President
"Napagpasyahan namin sa Senado kabilang ang Partido Liberal, NPC at iba pang partido pa na aming susundin ang mandato ng ating taumbayan. Ang PDP-Laban ang nagwagi noong nakaraang halalan," Drilon said.
"Kinikilala namin ang mandato ng taumbayan na ang PDP-Laban ang siyang partido ng Pangulo at may programa ang PDP-Laban tungkol sa pamamahala. Iyan po ang aming titingnan. We will be cooperative," he added.
He mentioned that senators are now in talks about who will serve as chairman of various Senate committees.
Under a Pimentel leadership, Drilon will serve as Senate President Pro-Tempore while Sotto will sit as Majority Leader.
Meanwhile, Senators Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes, who criticized Duterte before the election, will belong to the Senate minority.
Pimentel has said he will invite Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who had also expressed desire to run for Senate president, to join the majority.
Drilon also said the Senate will continue its investigation into the $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank and funneled into Philippine banks and casinos.
Drilon said the next chairpersons of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Committee on Banking have three options: adapting the Senate report on the heist; summoning other resource persons to the next hearings; or adapting the testimonies given in the previous hearings and drafting a new report.
"Kung ano man ang mga testimony, sinabi noong nakaraang hearing tungkol sa nangyari ay pwedeng i-adapt ng susunod na komite o pwede nilang baguhin yuung report... Ang punto lang, kailangan namang pagbigyan mo yung bagong committee chairman kung anong tingin niya sa report,” he said.
Senators Teofisto Giuingona III and Sergio Osmeña headed the previous Senate hearings on the cross-border heist. Both senators failed in their re-election bids in the May 9 polls.
Drilon said other laws that can be discussed in the 17th Congress under Pimentel's Senate presidency are the amendments to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act and the 85-year-old Revised Penal Code, and the passage of an anti-political dynasty law and the Salary Standardization Law.