House to insist on Con-Ass and joint voting in Charter change over objections of senators

January 15, 2018 - 3:31 PM
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, seen presiding over a joint session of Congress on the martial law extension. Senators balk at the House proposal to convene into a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution, and have the two chambers vote on these jointly. (File photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon)

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives will insist on the convening of a constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution and a joint voting with the Senate despite opposition from some senators.

Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado, chairperson of the committee on constitutional amendments, said the House was poised to approve on Monday (January 15) House Concurrent Resolution No. 9 that will transform Congress into a constituent assembly to propose the revisions.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 09 said a constituent assembly is the preferred mode of introducing changes to the Constitution because it is the “most expeditious, open and least costly among the options contemplated.”

The Constitution may also be amended through the constitutional convention and people’s initiative.

On Tuesday, January 16, the committee will meet in the morning to list down the Charter provisions that need to be revised, Mercado added.

Mercado proposed that their counterpart in the Senate go the way of “con ass” to save time and money.

“Forgive me for saying this, but I think my counterpart in the Senate, Senator (Francis) Pangilinan, forgive me for saying this, but he was just wasting our time and the money of the people. Let us go ahead and convene already the constituent assembly and do our work,” he said in a news conference.

Mercado cited Article XVII of the Constitution that he said mentioned “the Congress upon a vote of ¾ of all its members….”

“We cannot make any interpretation other than what is stated in our Constitution. The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members. Very simple,” he said.

Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez said amending the Constitution was “timely and necessary” as the current Charter was no longer attuned to the times.

Asked to react to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s statement calling lawmakers pushing for Charter change for their own interests as “doubly thick skinned,” Hernandez said the senator could be “referring to the no election scenario.”
“We are not afraid of elections, there should be elections (in 2019),” he said.

He also said the Charter change being initiated by the House “was nothing sinister” because it would still be the people deciding in a plebiscite if they want it.

“Even the President said he’s not interested in extending his term,” Hernandez said, quoting Rodrigo Duterte’s disavowal of any desire in having his term extended beyond 2022.