The National Assembly in session 682 of September 16 processed in the first debate the package of reforms to the Constitution proposed by the Committee for Democratic Institutionalization to eliminate the Council for Citizen Participation and Social Control (Cpccs); the redesign of the unicameral to bicameral parliament; and the autonomy of the State Attorney General’s Office.
According to the president of the Amendments Commission, Elizabeth Cabezas, once the debate is concluded, the report will be presented for a second debate within 90 days as determined by the Constitution on the process of constitutional reforms. According to the timeline established by the commission, he said, the report for the second debate would be ready at the end of December, and if the National Assembly approves it, the group of reforms could be consulted with the people in the February 2021 electoral process.
Although he also noted that there is another window or possibility such as the second presidential electoral round scheduled for April 2021. In these scenarios, the questions raised by the Committee for Democratic Institutionalization regarding changes to the Constitution in force since 2008 could be ratified or denied .
Regarding the elimination of the Cpccs, it is proposed to eliminate some articles related to the powers of the council in the promotion of citizen participation, accountability, promotion of transparency and fight against corruption. And with regard to the appointment of control authorities, it is proposed that these powers be transferred to the Legislative Branch to avoid the concentration of power and because it is the body of political representation.
Regarding bicamerality, it is proposed that the Legislative Branch have two chambers: one with 30 national representatives in the Senate for a period of four years; and another of representatives for a period of two years, whose legislators would be elected by the migrants and by each province according to the number of inhabitants.
For the categorization of an organic law, there must be a prior opinion of the Constitutional Court, and there will be a vote on differences between organic and ordinary legislation.
Urgent projects would not be limited to economic matters, they should only be approved by the chambers chosen by the President of the Republic.
Regarding the control, cross-death is eliminated, the House of Representatives is assigned the function of accusing the Senate; The requirement of a constitutional opinion to politically prosecute the President and Vice President of the Republic is eliminated and the prosecution of the members of the high courts of the State is allowed exclusively for crimes of bribery, concussion, embezzlement and illicit enrichment.
The third proposal is related to the autonomy of the State Attorney General’s Office. It aims to reform article 178 of the Constitution, which states that the Council of the Judiciary is the governing, administrative, monitoring and disciplinary body of the Judicial Branch.
During the debate 25 legislators participated. The group of assembly members of the Citizen Revolution (RC) rejected the reform proposal, since they argue that the elimination of the Cpccs would be a regression of rights; that the solution for legislative agility and the task of inspection is not in the bicameral system that Ecuador has already experienced; and on the autonomy of the Prosecutor’s Office, they argued that the claim for the increase in prosecutors is not in autonomy, but in the lack of allocation of resources. If they insist on constitutional changes, the legislator proposed that a constituent assembly be convened and we’ll see each other there, she said.
The PSC, through Henry Cucalón, argued that modifying the Constitution through a popular consultation is the most direct expression, and they support the elimination of the Cpccs, as well as the transformation of the Judicial Function and maintain the independence of the State Attorney General’s Office. That the creation of the Cpccs was the worst thing that the 2008 Constituent created, because it served for the direct manipulation of the government of the day, and that the designation of the control authorities must return to the Legislative Function.
Jaime Olivo of the Pachakutik movement commented that his political organization also supports the elimination of the Cpccs, which supports the autonomy of the State Attorney General’s Office, and bicamerality.
The CREO movement through its legislators Jeannine Cruz, Patricio Donoso expressed his support for the proposal made by the Committee for Democratic Institutionalization. Cruz commented that the change of the Constitution is necessary, and that there are not only three changes, but that the three issues reform a series of articles that will allow applying the modifications on which the citizen will pronounce. (I)