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Con-Con and Con-Ass

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Many concerned Filipinos have their own opinions about the Constitution and the government of the Philippines. Mostly, it’s about the amendments that they would like to see in our Constitution. But these amendments cannot push through without undergoing Charter Change. A Constitutional Reform in the Philippines, also known as Charter Change, is the political and legal process needed to amend the current 1987 Constitution.

However, amendments can be proposed by one of the three methods: People’s Initiative, Constitutional Convention, and Constituent Assembly. But most of the time, it all goes down to either Constitutional Convention or Constituent Assembly, since the People’s Initiative is quite hard to achieve due to the large population of our country, and it is not considered as a practical decision. It requires at least 12% of the total number of registered voters, and 3% in every district of the registered voters therein.

A Constituent Assembly is composed of all members from both Senate and House of Representatives. They are called by the Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution. These amendments should only pass upon a vote of three-fourths of all of its members. This process works faster than the Constitutional Convention: however, in a Constituent Assembly, there is a large possibility that the changes to be made are for their own benefit and not for the people. The decisions can also be biased, since its members will never do anything contrary to their self-interests. They will do anything to protect and preserve it including conniving with the President in order to extend his term, as long as they also remain in power.

On the other hand, a Constitutional Convention is called through a two-third vote of the members of the Congress. We elect delegates who are not from the members of the Congress to draft the amendments to our Constitution. In order to prevent the political motives of the members of the Congress, we are getting people outside of the system to revise it. Unlike in Constituent Assembly, the welfare of the people is the main concern in drafting the changes to be made. Even though it will be the elected delegates who will formulate the Charter Change, the senators and congressmen will still be an instrument, since they will be the ones who have the power to call for a con-con.

In my personal opinion, Constitutional Convention is more preferable to achieve the equal rights and benefits of the people, since the elected delegates are professionals from different walks of life. Therefore, the amendments that they will draft are most likely to be in favor of the majority, and not only for their personal welfare. Some of the people in the authority can be quite abusive of their power. There can be schemes and connivance in order to take advantage and pursue their motives. That can be a big risk for our country, since the Constitution is the paramount law of the land, to which other laws must conform.

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