Press Release
August 14, 2016

Cha-cha hearing to start in September
Drilon: Road towards Cha-cha should be consultative and transparent

The Senate will begin public hearings on various proposals to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution by the first week of September, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon announced on Sunday.

Drilon, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, said that the committee is set to commence a series of public hearings and consultations on proposals to review the country's 29-year old constitution.

The first hearing is set ?on September 6, 2016, Drilon disclosed.

"The committee understands the importance of this undertaking as part of the agenda of the Duterte administration and has therefore decided to give it the highest priority," Drilon said.

He said the committee has decided to tackle the proposal before the 2017 proposed national budget is brought to the Senate floor by the mid-November.

"We have a really big task ahead of us," said Drilon, stressing that "an undertaking as monumental as revising the Constitution needs the active and direct cooperation and participation of every Filipino."

He vowed that his committee will make the road towards constitutional reform "exhaustive, thoroughly consultative, and transparent."

"As its chairman, I guarantee that all views and opinions will be heard and taken into consideration, and that no one will be left in the dark," Drilon assured.

"We will be consultative. We will try to cover as many sectors as possible," he added.

The committee will invite as resource person representatives coming from various sectors such as the business community, labor, academe, civil society, sectoral and religious groups, as well as respected Constitutional and legal experts and former Supreme Court justices, he noted.

Drilon also revealed plans to hold a series of public hearings outside of Metro Manila "in order get the sentiments and views of local government officials and the public towards amending or revising the constitution."

Initially, the committee is looking at holding public consultations in the cities of Baguio, Cebu and Davao.

He said thorough consultations are necessary in light of the recent survey showing that Filipinos are divided on the question of whether or not to amend or revise the Constitution.

The Pulse Asia survey conducted on July 2 to 8 showed that 44 percent of Filipinos are against the proposal to amend the Constitution, while 37 percent said they support the proposal and 19 percent are undecided on the matter.

"We need to inform and educate our countrymen on Charter change. The people should be involved and must fully understand how this proposed constitutional reform will affect their lives in the years to come," Drilon said.

"At the end of the day, it is our people who will ultimately decide whether to ratify or not the proposed changes to the Constitution," Drilon stressed.

Drilon, a lawyer and former justice secretary, explained that the initial public hearing will seek to answer the most basic question: is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution?

"We should resolve this fundamental issue before we even discuss the mode of amending the Constitution - whether through a constitutional convention or through Congress sitting as a constituent assembly," Drilon said.

Drilon said he expects to hear strong arguments for and against the plan to shift from a unitary-presidential to a federal-parliamentary form of government, and the proposed shift from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature.

He also said the business sector has been pushing for some amendments in the economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more foreign direct investments.

"The committee will consider all proposals and study if the proposed changes to the Charter will require an overhaul of the Constitution," said Drilon, emphasizing "that the extent of the amendments will help the committee in determining the best mode."

Drilon is the author of Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 calling for a constitutional convention to amend or revise the 29-yearl-old Constitution.

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