House eyes charter change through constituent assembly; bgy polls postponement

August 8, 2017 - 1:18 AM
HOR plenary hall
The plenary hall of the House of Representatives. PHIL. STAR FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is prepared to convene into a constituent assembly with the Senate to perform minor surgery on the Constitution to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

At the same time, legislators also agreed to pass a bill postponing the October 2017 barangay elections to May 2018 and retain incumbent officials on holdover capacity.

This was the agreement among lawmakers who attended the caucus on Monday, according to Citizen Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Representative Sherwin Tugna.

Tugna, chairperson of the committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said the barangay elections will be held simultaneously with the plebiscite for the BBL.

The BBL aims to institutionalize autonomous governance of places that would be included in Muslim Mindanao. It did not pass in the last Congress amid questions about its constitutionality.

According to Tugna, before the passage of the BBL, the Senate and the House will convene in joint session as a constituent assembly and amend the provisions of the Constitution to harmonize it with the proposed BBL.

“We will follow the procedure of the July 22 joint session, when we approved the extension of martial law,” Tugna said.

Last July 22, senators and congressmen voted jointly in the approval of the martial law extension up to December 31, 2017.

In a meeting of Congress leaders on July 26, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Congress will identify the provisions of the Constitution that needed to be amended to pass the BBL.

Congress also plans to overhaul the Constitution to pave the way for a federal form of government.