Federalism critics, public can join charter change consultations

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2018 01:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2018 03:15 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee will open discussions even to critics on a proposed federal constitution, its chairman said at the start of formal deliberations Monday.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno also agreed to allow ordinary Filipinos to participate in public consultations to be conducted by different sub-committees formed to study specific changes in the constitution.

“We should also be open to hearing the opposition to charter change,” he said. “So let us have our antenna up for known ideas wherever they may come from.”

Efforts to revise the 1987 Constitution have encountered some strong pushback from many of its surviving framers.

In a statement, they insisted that the Constitution was “not the problem” but formed “part of the solution.”

They also warned that federalism would only “reinforce the power of political dynasties” and “encourage the rise of warlords.”

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and lawyer Christian Monsod have joined a coalition opposing charter change.

Puno agreed to former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.’s suggestion to accommodate concerns by ordinary Filipinos.

“Because otherwise, it would seem as if we are just interested to hear the side of so-called experts without touching base with the people themselves,” Pimentel told other consultative committee members.

Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, another con-com member, agreed but warned of “some uncontrollable expressions of objection and dissent” during public consultations.

“So while I fully trust the capacity of the chair to steer the proceedings, let’s really limit the number of people to invite for this purpose and then have such options ready as sending them notes to end their perorations,” he said.

“And the last recourse maybe the use of tasers,” he added in jest.