Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero advised his colleagues to slow down on the upcoming hearings on Charter Change until the Senate has clear rules on the matter.

“I raise this because we do not have a counterpart or similar rule. And right now, as things stand, the House of Representatives it seems has a rule on how to adopt proposals or reject proposals to amend the Constitution while the Senate does not,” the lawmaker explained.

Charter Change is the process of changing the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which can be done by proposing amendments or revisions by a Constituent Assembly or a People’s Initiative. The two houses of Congress are looking into convening into a Constituent Assembly, but they differ on whether to vote jointly or separately. The process requires a vote of three-fourths of all members and a national plebiscite.

Escudero said that the Senate should first establish its own rules on how to handle the proposals for constitutional reform, especially on the mode of voting and the scope of changes.

He added that the Senate should also consult the public and the experts on the merits and implications of Charter Change, particularly on the shift to federalism, which is being pushed by President Bongbong Marcos Jr. and his allies.

Escudero, who is serving a fresh term as senator, said that he is open to amending the Constitution, but only for specific provisions and not for a wholesale revision.

He also expressed his preference for a Constitutional Convention over a Constituent Assembly, saying that the former would be more representative and independent.

A Constitutional Convention is made up of elected delegates and can propose both amendments and revisions. Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of its members, can call for an election of its members.

The House of Representatives has already passed a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments or revisions to the Constitution, with the election of delegates to be held on October 30, 2023, simultaneous with the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

The Senate has yet to act on the resolution, as well as on other pending bills and resolutions on Charter Change.