House initiative to go solo in amending Charter would be unconstitutional, have no legal effect: Lagman

January 23, 2018 - 5:42 PM
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, seen in combo photo with Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. The two lawmakers are both pushing the campaign to institute divorce in the country. iNTERAKSYON COMBO PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Any initiative of the House of Representatives to go solo in amending the Charter would have no legal effect and violates the 1987 Constitution, an opposition lawmaker said Tuesday.

“In a constituent assembly, the Senate and the House will have to meet together; there can be no separate shadow-boxing by the House and the other, the Senate. They have to meet in tandem,” Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said.

“Any result will be void, it has no legal effect because it is a blatant violation of the Constitution. . . . That is why the braggadocio that the House will do it separately does not comply with the constitutional mandate,” he added in a news conference.

Lagman issued the reaction after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that the House is already in the process of amending the Charter. He said that after nationwide consultations, the House would draft the revised Constitution and have it voted on by at least three-fourths of the total number of House members and senators–even without the senators actually voting, as they have agreed that no one among them will be stampeded into joining the House-intiiated process. When approved, the draft from the House would be subjected to a plebiscite, possibly in May this year, simultaneous with the barangay elections.

Lagman said the 1987 Constitution prescribes three modes of amending the charter: through a constituent assembly, constitutional convention or people’s initiative.

Several senators have rejected the idea of sitting together with the House members and voting jointly.

Lagman said because “there is much disarray in calling for a constituent assembly,” it was better to introduce amendments or revisions to the Constitution through a constitutional convention.