How much charter change will cost

Posted at 08/15/14 8:59 PM

MANILA -- Amending the Constitution to lift term limits of government officials will cost billions of pesos, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Charman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Friday.

Brillantes, in an interview on radio dzMM, said the government will have to spend at least P7 billion for amending the Constitution.

It would cost another P7 billion if Congress decides to call for a constitutional convention, which requires election of delegates, the actual convention, and a nationwide plebiscite, among others.

"Kasi kung constitutional convention, magkakaroon muna tayo ng eleksyon eh, eleksyon ng delegates, it would take another P7 billion. Then after that, maga-amend pa sila, magkakaroon ng constitutional convention, magkakaroon pa ng budget yung convention, pagkatapos nila mag-amend, isu-submit for plebiscite nationwide again, that could be another P7 billion," Brillantes explained.

A people's initiative will cost less, as the proponents would have to fund their own campaign.

Use of public funds will start after the signatures are submitted to the Comelec for verification.

"Isu-submit po sa Commission on Elections iyan for the verification process. Iyung verification process will entail expenses already, not as big as the previous one, siguro mga P1 billion lang iyan or less," Brillantes added.

Once the signatures are verified, the amendments would still have to go through voting and a plebiscite, which would again cost the government around P7 billion.

Included in the expenses are payments and salaries for employees who will serve in the plebiscite, as well as supplies.

Brillantes also said the Comelec has already requested for P7 billion in its budget for possible amendments to the Constitution, but it was not approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

"Sabi nila, kung magkakaroon ng amendments later, then there will be a special appropriation for it," he added.

Talk about charter change circulated after some supporters of President Aquino launched a campaign online for his second term.

Aquino on Wednesday said he was considering constitutional changes, including adjustment of term limits for officials that might allow him to serve a second 6-year term, as well as clipping the powers of the Supreme Court.

The 1987 Constitution limits Aquino, elected in 2010, to a single six-year term. The restriction was born of the country's experience of martial law under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for more than two decades.