Following its passage in the House of Representatives, a leader of the lower chamber on Wednesday said the Senate is set to tackle Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which calls for a Constitutional convention (Con-con) on Monday.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House constitutional amendments committee, said the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Laws will conduct a public hearing on RBH 6, which calls for a Con-con that would propose changes in the Charter’s economic provisions.
According to Rodriguez, his Senate counterpart Sen. Robinhood Padilla, has invited him to attend the hearing.
“I will attend it. I will explain to senators and the public that our intention in our Charter change initiative, as repeatedly stated by Speaker Martin Romualdez, is to rewrite the economic provisions so the country could attract more foreign investments,” he said.
“That is our only objective. We do not want the other parts of the Constitution to be touched,” the lawmaker added.
Rodriguez said the present “restrictive economic provisions [of the 1987 Charter] have been, to quote Fitch Solutions, ‘historically a challenge for foreign investors.’”
Based on the invitation sent by Padilla’s committee to Rodriguez, RBH No. 6 is the only item in the agenda of Padilla’s hearing.
Rodriguez said he would suggest to Speaker Martin Romualdez that House Bill No. 7352, which was approved by an overwhelming vote on Tuesday, be immediately transmitted to the Senate for inclusion in Monday’s hearing.
He said he hoped the bill could be discussed along with RBH No. 6 in Padilla’s committee.
“In the bill, we are giving the constitutional convention seven months to finish its job. The deadline is the best proof that we want this effort to be limited to the economic provisions. Rewriting the other parts of the Charter would entail a longer, perhaps an open-ended period,” Rodriguez said.
He added that the seven-month deadline is enough for the envisioned Con-con to rewrite the economic provisions.
Among the salient features of the bill is the seven-month term of office of the convention, starting from December 1, 2023, up to June 30, 2024.
“If they could do it in three months to five months, the better for the country, the less expense the convention would require,” Rodriguez added.
The bill provides that a convention delegate would receive no salary but would be entitled to a P10,000 allowance for every day of attendance in the assembly or any of its committees.
Under HB 7352, Charter amendments to be endorsed by the proposed Con-con shall be submitted to the people for ratification in a plebiscite to be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the submission of the convention report to the President and Congress.
The envisioned Con-con shall be composed of elected delegates, one from each legislative district, to be voted on October 30, 2023.
The Con-con shall also have sectoral representatives, comprising 20 percent of the total number of delegates, to be appointed jointly by the Senate President and the House Speaker.
The appointed sectoral representatives shall include three retired members of the Judiciary, three from the academe, three from the legal profession, two economists, and two each from the business sector, labor, urban poor, farmers and fisherfolk, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, veterans, cooperatives, senior citizens and persons with disability, and such other sectors as the Senate president and House Speaker may determine.
The Senate Secretary and House Secretary-General shall initially convene and preside over the Con-con at 10 in the morning at the Philippine International Convention Center on December 1, 2023, until it has elected its president and presiding officer.
A Con-con delegate shall enjoy the same parliamentary immunity accorded to a member of Congress.
The Senate, the House, and other government agencies shall make available personnel, facilities, equipment, or office space needed by the convention without hampering public service.
The Con-con shall submit its report to the President, Congress, and Comelec within 30 days after the completion of the proposed amendments, or on June 30, 2024.
Funding for the convention shall initially be charged against any available appropriations in the 2023 national budget and subsequently included in next year’s budget proposal.