SENATE CON-CON RESOLUTION FILED TOMORROW

Manila, Jan. 19, 2003 - Senate President Franklin Drilon will file tomorrow a resolution formalizing the call for a constitutional convention and the election of Con-con delegates in May 2004.

President Arroyo has already expressed preference for a Con-Con, with the election of delegates coinciding with the May 2004 general elections.

Drilon is confident that the Con-con resolution will be readily approved by the Senate. The resolution needs only a simple majority to be adopted.

He said it is only through a Con-con that amendments to the Constitution could be proposed. Mustering three-fourths vote in the Senate for a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution would be impossible, he said.

"This proposed solution a Con-con already has bipartisan support," he said. "I am confident that by Monday, we should have more than a majority of the senators supporting this resolution calling for a Con-con."

He stressed that he and congressmen are one in wanting the Constitution amended, but they differ on the means of amending it.

Congressmen want it done with the House and the Senate convening as a constituent assembly, while senators prefer a Con-con.

Sen. John Osmeña, a proponent of federalism, said he supported the proposal for a Con-con after realizing the impossibility of amending the Charter through a constituent assembly.

He said he and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, who is also for federalism, will be campaigning for candidates in the Visayas and Mindanao who share their conviction on the need for a federal form of government.

"The people in and near Metro Manila do not feel the need for a federal government but those in Visayas and Mindanao and ‘forgotten’ regions in Luzon do," Osmeña said.

Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, on the other hand, urges her fellow legislators to defer discussions on Charter change (Cha-cha) with the President’s declaration against amending the Constitution before 2004.

"This would keep the government’s focus on the reforms being put in place by Malacañang," she said.

Oreta said she supports the proposal to amend the Charter but she also believes that such a move should take place after the 2004 elections.

"Deferring moves and discussions on the Cha-cha to 2004 would help assure the public that charter change proponents are genuinely pushing reforms that would focus on improving the lives of the masa, and not on political amendments that would favor incumbent officials," she said.


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