MANILA — The increase in population calls for an additional number of senators from 24 to 48 so said Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile as he also proposed to return to the 1935 or 1973 Constitution.

This was the rationale behind his proposal to increase the number of senators.

Enrile said there were only around 10 million Filipinos when the 1935 Constitution was adopted, compared to today’s 110 million.

The former senator who’s also pushing for a charter change, said that with the 48 senators, 16 will leave every two years and another will be elected. “There must always be 2/3 ‘yong maiiwan sapagkat kung magkaroon ng emergency: giyera, insurrection, epidemya or rebelyon o anumang sakuna na puwedeng tumama at sirain ang Senado, at least kung may 2/3 na maiiwan, may gobyerno pa rin ang Pilipinas,” Enrile explained.

Enrile was one of the two guests in the “Balitaan sa Maynila,” a weekly media forum. The forum is moderated by broadcaster Angelo Almonte and journalist Dave Veridiano. The other guest was former Misamis Oriental provincial governor Homobono Adaza.

Comparing 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions, Adaza described the third as the “worst” citing that there are three elements of a “good” constitution, according to constitutionalists and political scientists, namely: free to inform, full of substance, and clear in meaning. The Cory (Aquino) Constitution allegedly violated the three elements.

Enrile meanwhile, mentioned that the 1935 Constitution was a product of a Constitutional Convention attended by chosen Filipinos and so with the 1973 Constitution.

“Yong Saligang Batas ng revolutionary government ni Cory, gawa ng isang tao ‘yon. Si Neptali Gonzales,” he said.

The late former president Aquino, according to Enrile, chose 60 individuals from among her people and not from a Constitutional Convention or Constitutional Assembly. There were notable conflicting provisions, he said.

Further, he explained that if Filipinos want to expedite charter change, they can choose between the 1935 and 1973 Constitution. “Doon sa 1935 Constitution, lahat ng mga bureau chief, mga pangulo ng ahensiya ng gobyerno, lahat ng prosecutor ay kinukumpirma at pag na-promote sila, may confirmation din. That is what we call accountability,” Enrile explained.

Comparing those years’ conduct of the election, the former Senate president said that cheating these days is rampant.

“Kahit naman magkaroon ng dayaan sa eleksiyon noon, hindi malawakan ng kagaya ngayon. Ang suspetsa ng mga tao, makina na ang bumuboto at hindi na taong-bayan,” he said.

To expedite charter change, Enrile proposed a Constituent Assembly, composed of the 24 senators or members of the House of Representatives, assembling in a joint session.

Separate voting should be conducted. Another way is to call for a Constitutional Convention and hold an election, where delegates will be chosen and will meet among themselves to draft a new Constitution. (ai/mtvn)

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