MANILA, September 22, 2005
(STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo has named 33 members of the 50-member Citizen’s Consultative Commission (Con-com) that will assist Congress in drafting proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief Rigoberto Tiglao said the initial 33 con-com members, three of whom are columnists of The STAR, will be having their first meeting on Sept. 28 and elect their set of officers.

"This (the composition of the Consultative Commission) is a good mix of academicians, constitutional experts, lawyers, religious leaders and people who are on the ground, like businessmen, farmers, labor and political leaders," Tiglao, whose office will serve as the con-com’s secretariat, said in a press conference in Malacañang.

Tiglao stressed the President has chosen the 33 out of more than 150 nominees.

He said Mrs. Arroyo may announce more names soon since Executive Order No. 453 signed by the President last Aug. 9 mandates that 50 members should compose the con-com.

The commission was created to study possible amendments to the Constitution, particularly on the shift to a parliamentary federal system of government and revising the so-called protectionist provisions of the Charter.

The members of the commission have been tasked to go around the country to consult and gather additional input from various sectors and stakeholders.

The con-com is expected to finish its work by December and submit its final report before the President along with a draft of the Constitution with transitional provisions.

The same report would be forwarded to Congress for consideration.

In her State of the Nation Address last July 25, Mrs. Arroyo called on Congress to convene into a constituent assembly to tackle amendments to the Constitution to shift to a federal parliamentary system of government.

Mrs. Arroyo pointed out Charter change had been included in the Medium Term Public Investment Program from 2005 to 2010 of her administration.

Tiglao said the con-com would act as a catalyst for non-partisan debate and give recommendations to the President before its formal conveyance to Congress.

Sources added former President Fidel Ramos, Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas, former senate president Jovito Salonga and Senate President Franklin Drilon are among those to be invited as resource persons in the initial and subsequent meetings and consultations.

Tiglao said a budget of P10 million would be allocated to finance the expenses of the con-com. He said a modest honorarium is being considered for the members if the budget allows it.

Former University of the Philippines and constitutionalist Dr. Jose Abueva leads the list of members.

Apart from STAR columnists Carmen Pedrosa, Jarius Bondoc and Alexander Magno, other members of the body include Anthony Acevedo, Ronald Adamat, Emmanuel Angeles, Rene Azurin, Jose Bello Jr., Ma. Romela Bengzon, Francis Chua, Donald Dee, Gilberto Duavit, Gerado Espina Sr., Pablo Garcia, Nelia Gonzales, Joji Ilagan-Bian, Gonzalo Jurado, Jose Leviste Jr., James Marty Lim, Lito Monico Lorenzana and Sergio Luiz-Ortiz Jr.

Others are Jose Sonny Matula, Democrito Mendoza, David Naval, Victor Ortega, Vicente Paterno, San Fernando, Pampanga Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, Camiguin Gov. Pedro Romualdo, Bishop Efraim Tendero, Ray Teves, Antonio Vilar and Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco.

Tiglao stressed the people who had been appointed to sit in the con-com represent the interests of various sectors.

Other sectors — such as women, the youth and members of indigenous peoples — would also have their representatives in the commission, Tiglao pointed out.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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