Angara supports constituent assembly for Philippine charter change

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today cited the reasons why a constituent assembly (ConAss) after the May 2007 elections is still the best way to amend the charter in terms of cost, time and setting the agenda.

"Constitutional convention is a good proposition. But I think it will be expensive. At the very least, con-con will entail nine billion pesos on the basis of a two year convention," said Angara who compared Con-Ass versus Con-Con during his days at the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.

"Con-con will cost us about nine billion pesos because we will have to elect delegates. And not just one per district, maybe two delegates per district. That is almost 500 delegates all in all. Then you have to give the delegates their own staff members," Angara said.

Angara also said that another bulk of cost will be payment for the convention's venue. He recalled that back in the 1970s they had a problem looking for the most suitable venue where the delegates can assemble.

"At first, we were holding the Con-Con at the Manila Hotel. But we found it too small for us, especially the provincial delegates. Then, we had to move to the city hall of Quezon City. So, it was really inconvenient," he said.

"On the other hand, in a constituent assembly, you don't have to spend more than one billion pesos because we already have our staff, offices and supplies. So the savings are really big," Angara said.

Angara also explained two more advantages of Congress transforming itself into a Constituent Assembly.

"In terms of time, you cannot set the time and the limit in a constitutional convention. Whereas in a con-ass, time can be agreed upon before hand. More importantly, manageability of the agenda can be achieved. In a constituent assembly, you can pre-agree that these are the areas for amendments. The agenda will be clearer, more transparent, and more manageable. No one will be shooting from all directions. We will be all focused," he said.