MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed top magistrates, lawyers, members of the academe and former officials to the consultative body on charter change, tapping former Chief Justice Reynato Puno to head the body.
Malacañang released their appointment papers Thursday, over a year since the President signed an executive order creating a body to study proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution, which is key in his reform agenda towards a shift to a federal form of government.
Aside from Puno, Duterte named 18 other individuals as members of the consultative committee, including former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a leading federalism proponent.
Also appointed were San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, retired Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo Nachura and Bienvenido Reyes, political science professors Julio Cabral Teehankee and Edmund Tayao, and lawyers Roan Libarios, Reuben Canoy and Randolph Parcasio.
Completing the list of members are former Bohol governor Victor de la Serna, Virgilio Castillo Bautista, Rodolfo Dia Robles, Eddie Mapag Alih, Ali Pangalian Balindong, Laurence Wacnang, Arthur Aguilar, Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, and Antonio Biñas Arellano.
Duterte’s appointment of the members of the consultative body comes as Congress moved to amend the charter.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had earlier said the lower chamber need not to wait for the members of the consultative body for it to start amending the 1987 organic law.
The Senate and House of Representatives earlier reached an impasse over whether they should vote jointly or separately in case Congress convenes as a constituent assembly in changing the charter.
Puno, whose legal acumen has been praised by the President several times, has said that the Supreme Court could ultimately step in and break the congressional impasse.
Puno warned of an “anomalous result” if the much bigger House of Representatives would insist on a joint vote, a scenario senators fear would render their 24-man chamber irrelevant.
Late Wednesday, House and Senate leaders met and agreed to focus on the "substance" of charter amendments and set aside differences over the mode of voting for the meantime, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said.