MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday he is eyeing a convention of Congress as a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution by January 2019.
Alvarez said lawmakers will have their hands full with pending legislative work, the passage of the 2019 national budget, and intramurals on the runup to the 2019 polls when session resumes in May.
"Ang tingin ko diyan baka sometime January na. Siguro kasi tingnan mo 'pag sa SONA (State of the Nation Address), ibibigay sa amin ng Pangulo 'yung NEP (National Expenditure Program) para sa 2019. Pagkatapos noon siyempre tatrabahuhin namin 'yun dahil normally ang deadline noon November," he said.
"October, filing ng certificate of candidacy. Alam mo naman, siyempre, mga congressman magko-concentrate din sa mga distrito nila dahil nga nakapag-file ng certificate of candidacy," he added.
Alvarez admits the timetable may also be affected by the looming impeachment trial of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. He said the House plans to hold a vote on Sereno's impeachment in May.
But top priority for lawmakers when Congress resumes session in May will be the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Alvarez said. The law would enact the 2014 final peace agreement between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, seeking to create a Bangsamoro entity.
Alvarez said he would appeal to his colleagues to make sure there's a quorum by January 2019 for the proposed charter change amid their busy schedules and the upcoming elections.
He said they would also like to wait for the output of President Rodrigo Duterte's consultative committee, which is expected to submit their draft of a new charter in time for the State of the Nation Address in July.