A former chief magistrate on Friday said the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law is the number one priority in the consultative commission's review of the 1987 Constitution.
Speaking to radio DZMM, former chief justice Reynato Puno said one reason for the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government is "the need to accommodate the identity-based demands of our Muslim brothers and sisters."
"'Yan nga po ang number 1 priority [sa] gagawing pag-aaral. Yung problema natin sa Mindanao ay matagal na..." Puno said.
The ex-chief magistrate said members of the consultative commission will meet with President Duterte after his trip to India to discuss the charter change initiative. Work on the charter change review will then be divided among the members of the consultative body, based on expertise.
The review, he said, requires a "radical rewriting of our Constitution and also a study on whether or not to loosen the restrictive provisions on our economy in our Constitution."
Asked if Congress should tackle charter change via constituent assembly or constitutional convention, he said: "'Yan po ay papasok rin pag pinag-aralan na yung mode of amendments for the revision of our Constitution."
Puno, whose legal acumen has been praised by the President several times, earlier 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.
He also said federalism would be a "lethal experiment" unless political dynasties were “neutralized” beforehand.
"The new constitution would grant them sovereign powers...These states will be given the power to make their laws, execute their laws, interpret their laws, and that should not be in the hands of political dynasties," he said.
Puno proposed an “evolving” type of federalism where regions would first enjoy autonomy before graduating into full-fledged states after meeting certain criteria. He cautioned against dividing the country into several states right away — a congressional draft is eyeing 5 regions while a PDP-Laban model proposes 11.
Duterte has tapped Puno to head the consultative body on charter change, which includes top magistrates, lawyers, members of the academe and former officials.
Appointed to the commission were former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., 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 has long pushed for a move to federalism, which will allow regions to take the lead in developing their economy instead of the national government based in Metro Manila.