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Aquino Names 45 To Write New Constitution

May 25, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Corazon Aquino appointed 45 people Sunday to a commission that will write the nation’s new constitution, and reserved another five seats for allies of ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The 50-member panel is due to hold its first session on June 2. Mrs. Aquino set no timetable, but said she hoped the panel would complete a draft within 90 days. The constitution, which has to be approved by the voters, would clear the way for legislative elections.

Mrs. Aquino announced the commission appointments at a rally celebrating her first three months in office. More than 100,000 people gathered at the suburban Manila Aguinaldo military camp, site of the civilian-military revolt that swept her into power on Feb. 25.

She told the rally she decided to allot five seats to members of Marcos’ New Society Movement ″in the spirit of reconciliation.″ Marcos loyalists will have to decide among themselves who will join the commission. Marcos himself is now living in exile in Hawaii.

Mrs. Aquino actually announced 44 names. She started to name the 45th nominee, a representative of the pro-Marcos religious minority group Iglesia ni Kristo, but catcalls drowned out her voice.

Mrs. Aquino calmed the protests, saying, ″We’ll discuss it.″

The president and her Cabinet had screened more than 1,000 nominees whose names were submitted by the public.

Among the appointees were politicians, Catholic and Moslem religious leaders, human rights activists, two judges, a general, a student leader, an anthropologist and a film director. Six appointees are women.

Absent from the roster were the names of Communists, leftist labor leaders and representatives of leftist youth groups. Two former Communist leaders, Jose Maria Sison and Bernabe Buscayno, had been nominated but were not named. Sison and Buscayno, who were jailed for years under Marcos, were freed by Mrs. Aquino.

After taking office, Mrs. Aquino abolished Marcos’ 1973 constitution, dissolved the Marcos-controlled National Assembly, and proclaimed a provisional constitution that restored civil liberties and gave her law-making powers.

Mrs. Aquino has promised that new elections would be held by March 25, 1987. The types of offices up for election depend on the draft submitted by the constitution-writing committee.

Government officials have defended Mrs. Aquino’s rule by decree as necessary to remove vestiges of Marcos’ 20-year rule. Under the provisional constitution, the government has removed scores of allegedly corrupt pro- Marcos local officials and and replaced them with Aquino followers.

Government critics said commission members should be elected rather than appointed, so they would not be vulnerable to presidential pressure.

Mrs. Aquino has pledged to keep the commission independent and said its sessions might be televised. She also said commission members would likely be banned from seeking office in the next election.

In public debates, some politicians have proposed a return to a U.S.-style presidential system with a two-house Congress, which Marcos abolished when he declared martial law in 1972. Mrs. Aquino has said she favored such a proposal.

Among those named to the commission were former Sens. Francisco Rodrigo, Ambrosio Padilla and Lorenzo Sumulong; Jose Laurel, former speaker in the lower house; film director Lino Brocka; Gen. Crispino de Castro, and former Supreme Court justices Roberto Concepcion and Cecilia Munoz Palma.

Also, Catholic Bishop Ted Bacani; the Rev. Joaquin Bernas, president of the Catholic Ateneo University; and Moslems Yusof Abubakar, a former ambassador, and Ahmad Alonto, a former provincial leader.

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