Cha-cha Express: House rushing bill for a Con-con


THE proposed Constitutional Convention Act, the accompanying bill of the Resolution of Both Houses 6 calling for a Constitutional Convention, is now awaiting third and final reading approval in the House of Representatives.

This, after members of the lower chamber approved on second reading House Bill (HB) 7352 or the proposed Constitutional Convention Act late Tuesday.

The measure is expected to be approved on third and final reading next week.

The measure covers the implementation of RBH 6 to propose amendments to, or revisions of, the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

HB 7352 includes the composition of the Constitutional Convention of 251 elected delegates and appointed sectoral representatives, equal to 20 percent of the total elected delegates.

It also provides the qualifications of the elected and appointed delegates, as well as the disqualification of those convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Under the bill, the election of delegates is set for the last Monday of October 2023, simultaneous with the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The bill also provides acts prohibited in addition to those acts already prohibited in the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines.

It also provides emoluments for the delegates—P10,000 for every day of actual attendance and entitlement to necessary travel and lodging expenses.

HB 7325 requires that the delegates of the Constitutional Convention be of recognized probity, independence, nationalism and patriotism.

Under the bill, the Commission on Elections is mandated to issue the rules and regulations to govern the election of delegates to the Convention.

HB 7325 was approved the day after RBH 6 was passed on third and final reading. The bill was introduced by Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, among others.

‘Stop the Cha-cha train’

Gabriela Partylist on Wednesday marched with various women’s rights organizations to unite against the railroading of Charter Change.

While the jeepney drivers are on transport strike, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 7352 to pave the way for Charter Change despite mounting calls from the public against it.

Brosas said that Charter change is not the answer to the worsening state of Filipino women in the country.

“The government is willing to provide a whopping P10-billion funding for the Constitutional Convention, including P10,000 per day per diem per delegate while it only offered a meager P500 per month for two months for 9.3 million families,” Brosas said.

In his interpellation on House Bill 7352, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel exposed “vulnerabilities” of the current mode of the constitutional convention to the influences of political parties, dynasties, and other powerful groups.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Lorenz Defensor, agreed that anyone can be influenced, but argued that elections will weed out any bad influences.

Manuel also raised questions regarding the criteria for the selection of appointed delegates, so as to limit cases of selection based on political connections.

He also questioned the requirement for a college degree for elected delegates in the Constitutional Convention.

Manuel also found too much the P10,000 per diem allowance for the delegates, saying these are resources that could be used to ensure services for people in need.

Unofficial estimates for personnel services are currently P597 million for salaries and benefits of staff members, P755 million for employers’ share in mandatory contributions, P76 million for secretariat salaries for a total amount of P1.6 billion, said Manuel.

He added that the total estimated costs, when adding P766 million for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses and P106M for Capital Outlay, amount to P2.4 billion for the Con-con.

Image credits: House of Representatives/Facebook