House ‘acting as Con-Ass’ to amend Constitution
THE House of Representatives is now acting as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution and pave the way for a federal government.
Leyte Representative Vicente Veloso, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, stated this on Tuesday, October 9, a week after the committee adopted the Resolution of Both Houses No. 15.
The resolution, filed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers, endorses the so-called Arroyo draft constitution.
According to Veloso, the House targets the ratification of the Arroyo-backed proposed amendments to the Constitution in February so that the public can vote on it in May 2019.
Veloso said the Constitution does not specify that the Senate and the House of Reperesentatives should convene jointly at a particular place to propose amendments to the charter.
He added that even former Senate Presdent Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the amendments to the Constitution should be treated in the same way that the Congress legislates.
“Sabi ni Koko Pimentel, let’s approach it like we are legislating statute… House of Representatives will do its share, Senate will do its share. In case of differences, we will reconcile through bicam (bicameral conference committee),” Veloso said.
He added: “At least kami tapos na kami (we are done). It cannot be said that we are wasting people’s money.
In January, the House of Representatives adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 9 that would convene the Senate and the House of Representatives as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The Senate has yet to adopt the same resolution.
Asked if the House of Representatives can convene even without their Senate counterpart, Veloso answered in the affirmative.
“Resolution No. 9 already defines what we are doing as a constituent assembly. It went to the Senate -- whether or not it has been acted upon, the Constitution does not say that it will become a constituent assembly only if the other house acts on our Resolution no 9,” Veloso clarified.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier proposed to expel any senator who attends the joint hearing on charter change pursuant to House Resolution No. 9, saying they will not act on it and will just deliberate among themselves which mode will be used to amend the Constitution: constituent assembly or constitutional convention.
Last August, House Speaker Arroyo filed another resolution reiterating the call of the House of Representatives for the Congress to convene.
The same resolution specified that the House of Representatives and the Senate will vote separately on charter change, in contradiction to the statement of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that both houses should vote jointly in amending the charter. (SunStar Philippines)