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And never the twain shall meet?

House of Representatives members have been exuding a lot of optimism for the quick passage of the constitutional changes through the constituent assembly, one of the approved constitutional modes which entails the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House convening and constituting themselves into a Con-Ass while voting jointly on Charter Change (cha-cha).
The issue of separate voting as against joint voting, as spelled out in the 1987 Constitution has more or less been agreed upon by both Houses of Congress as long as separate voting is the cha-cha mode.
However, the constitutionality of the issue of joint or separate voting, despite the agreement reached between the two chambers, still can be challenged before the High Court and by any Filipino taxpayer.
That would easily delay the deadline being set by the congressional leaders and do away with term extensions and no-el.
There is also the probability of not just delays but the very real probability that there may not be any cha-cha even after the 2019 elections.
This probability stems from Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s announcement that he is not inclined to support any move to convene both houses of Congress into a Con-Ass to amend the 1987 Constitution, claiming it would be tantamount to signing the Senate’s “death warrant.”
Being firm on separate voting, Lacson went a step further, saying he would be filing his own resolution seeking to convene the Senate as a Con-Ass on its own, instead of being a joint body with the House of Representatives.
“I will file a Senate resolution to constitute ourselves, the Senate, into a constituent assembly as the upper chamber and wait for the lower house to do the same if they wish to do so,” he said.
Lacson’s idea of his Con-Ass version is to have it treated by the 23-man Senate as a legislative measure, in the sense that the Senate comes up with one bill while the House also comes up with its own version of a Con-Ass and provisions, after which, a bicameral committee will marry the two versions and have this ratified separately by each chamber.
However, despite Lacson making it look like an easy passage with both chambers embracing Con-Ass, and even on separate voting, it’s certainly not as easy as it looks.
Senate President Koko Pimentel in reaction, said he is not conversant with the Lacson resolution he will be filing, although he said he is also filing his own resolution on Con-Ass which would have the Senate proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution, after which the Senate votes with the required two-third vote, or 16 votes.
From what was bared by Pimentel, his resolution would be focused on a federal shift, which may not be quite acceptable to some senators and while Pimentel appears optimistic about the country ushering the shift to Federalism, Pimentel should take note of the fact that the current voting members in the Senate is 23, as there is one detained senator and she won’t be allowed to cast her vote.
But if one talks about a two third vote in the Senate for the Con-Ass and the shift to federalism, all this may just be junked, mainly because it only takes eight votes to kill the Con-Ass and Federalism, and getting eight votes in the Senate should be easy.
The better resolution, admittedly, is Lacson’s, in the sense that his version is for the Senate to constitute itself into a Con-Ass, but that every proposed provision or amendment by any senator will be voted upon by the Senate with the required vote, for the proposed provision to be passed. Again, chances are high that getting only eight votes for senators to oppose this proposed provision, whatever it may be, can kill it.
On the one hand, a senator can propose just to retain the presidential two chamber legislature and touch on the judiciary, which can be a touchy issue with the High Court justices.
On the other hand, in some pure parliamentary governments, the High Court is under Parliament. It could retain its independence, but it would still be under Parliament, which is the government.
Should the Senate approve the Lacson version, the probability of a presidential system may be retained, with however, a whole lot of amendments introduced by way of changes in the 1987 Charter, which may not be a bad idea—that is, if Lacson can get the requisite votes for rejection as well as the requisite votes for approval.
The end result? There can be no Con-Ass and no shift to the Federal System, because done as a legislative measure, the two versions are the twain that can’t ever meet.
Time to think an elected Con-Com.

1 comment

  • Selmo

    The crooks in the senate will not allow the constitution to be changed whether by Con-Ass or Con-Con. The present system is where they make their hundreds of millions in pork barrel and so they will do everything to retain this defective system of government.

    Selmo Saturday, 13 January 2018 17:15 Comment Link

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