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House panel to scrutinize draft Federal Charter

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments said today his panel will convene to tackle the proposed Federal Constitution submitted by the Consultative Committee (Con-Com) to the Lower Chamber after President Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments led by Chairperson Roger G. Mercado discussed the output of the four subcommittees tasked to review the 1987 Constitution today, January 16, 2018 at the House of Representatives. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments led by Chairperson Roger G. Mercado (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado assured that his panel will scrutinize the working draft, as they wait for President Duterte’s directive and plans on Charter change during his SONA.

“We will call a meeting immediately after the SONA. We will invite the Speaker and the Majority Leader,” he said in an interview after former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who heads the Con-Com, on Wednesday submitted a copy of the draft Federal Constitution to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas.

He said the House leadership may also hold a caucus to discuss the ConCom’s working draft.

“We will also consider calling (for a) caucus of the entire Congress,” he said, noting that caucuses are usually the prerogative of the House Speaker.

Mercado maintained that he wants President Duterte to declare his plans on the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

“Let’s see what our President says in his SONA,” he said.

When asked if they would nod to President Duterte should the Chief Executive ask Congress to adopt ConCom’s draft Charter, Mercado said, “We will be guided by constitutional processes. Since it has political implications, we have to defer with vital stakeholders and the circumstances that precipitate the events.”

Speaker Alvarez said the House will study and review the draft Federal Constitution.

He and Farinas agreed that the House is not bound by the working draft as the consultative committee is just recommendatory or an advisory body.

They said that it is Congress, working as Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), which has the authority to propose amendments to the Constitution.

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