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Senators split on mode, call for Con-Con

It was bound to happen among 23 senators who believe themselves that each senator is an independent republic.

Senators appear to be split on the issue on the mode of amending the Constitution as some have already publicly expressed their preference for a constitutional convention (Con-Con) over a constituent assembly (Con-Ass) or vice versa.
But apparently, the sentiment is that those who are for Con-Con may be swayed into agreeing to the Con-Ass as long as thier prefered voting mode is upheld.
This is evident that the stand of all the senators is to insist on separate voting.
The emerging sentiment is that of having the Senate voting “separately” from the House of Representatives in approving proposed amendments, in the event they agree to convene as a Con-Ass.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, at a press briefing at the Senate, bared plans of filing a resolution to turn the upper chamber into a Con-Ass and immediately begin work on the revisions in the Charter.
“We will wait for the lower house to do the same if they wish. We can begin proposing amendments and approve them, at least on our level by three-fourths vote,” he said.
“This is the reason the resolution that I will be filing is for the Senate to constitute itself as the upper chamber into a constitutional assembly. We are currently 23 senators and we can also assign different committees, such as our subcommittees, so the workload can be halved. One panel can tackle different provisions and different articles present in our Constitution,” Lacson said.
Just like the way the senators process the enactment of a bill into law, Lacson said any proposed amendments will have to go through a bicameral conference committee and can only be adopted following a three-fourths vote of all the members before presenting these to the public in a plebiscite.

The senator stood against the idea of convening jointly with the lower house and voting jointly as he expressed belief that it was not the intent of the framers of the Constitution on the issue of amending the Charter.
If the lower house will not come up with a counterpart resolution, there could be a stalemate as senators are not likely to agree to a joint session unless the resolution to be filed by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel will seek to adopt amendments by a vote of a simple majority.
“So I will be filing my resolution resolution, a modified version, for the Senate that is the sole body to constitute itself as a constituent assembly in the upper house.
“And I hope at least majority of my colleagues will support the resolution that I intend to file next week,” he said.
Earlier this week, Pimentel said he will file a resolution “calling for the Senate to sit together with the House of Representatives as a Con-Ass for the purpose of revising the 1987 Constitution, specifically to study the adoption of a federal system of government.”
Earlier, Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, said he is ready to question joint voting before the Supreme Court.
Drilion also pointed out that he has proposed a change in the present Constitution through a constitutional convention, where delegates are elected by the people.
Senators Grace Poe and Bam Aquino both said that they preferred Con-Con as the mode of amending the Constitution.
Poe, however, is not completely closing her door in supporting Con-Ass especially if her fellow senators will collectively decide to rally behind such mode of amending the country’s Charter.
“Any move for a literal interpretation that would obliterate the relevance of the entire Senate by the 300-member lower house in the voting (of proposed amendments) must be rejected for being contrary to the spirit of the 1987 Constitution,” she said in a statement.
Poe vowed to support the position of Sen. Panfilo Lacson that the bicameral Congress should vote separately as this was intended by the framers of the Charter, she said.
“(But) given the extent of the proposed changes in the Constitution, I maintain that having a Con-Con is the best and most acceptable mode to take even if it appears impractical to some,” she said.
In a Con-Con, revisions to the highest law of the land is tackled with transparency, debated upon by the experts and shall be decided ultimately by the people and not just those in Congress, Poe said.
Aquino, in a television interview, said he has already filed in the past a resolution calling for a Con-Con believing that it’s the more viable mode of changing the Constitution.
Just like Poe, if it will be Con-Ass, Aquino said they’re going to push for the voting to be done separately.
“We won’t allow voting jointly situation to happen. In the Constitution, it is silent on this, and it will probably take maybe the Supreme Court to come up and say it’s actually voting jointly or voting separately. My take is that, if it’s voting jointly, I don’t think the Senate will even open up this process,” he said.
“For me, it’s non-negotiable. I think, for many of the other senators, if we allow a voting jointly scenario, we take ourselves out of the game. It’s as if we were denied the right to speak out our minds, to debate and decide on some of these matters. You’re killing yourselves. You’re taking yourselves out and I don’t think any self-respecting senator would want to see that happen. This issue of voting jointly and voting separately will be a difficult discussion,” he added.
Both Aquino and Lacson said that their vote will be irrelevant if they will be voting jointly with the congressmen who are nearly 300 in numbers
“You’re not even half, you’re less than 10 percent of the House so you virtually have no vote.
“Secondly, when the Constitution was created, and the intention was to have two houses of Congress, one Senate and one House of Representatives, I don’t think part of that intention was to have two houses when it comes to the most important changes, which is the Constitution. Then that will only be one chamber.
“So I think it’s but logical that we vote separately on this issue if Con-Ass is indeed chosen to be the form of changing the Constitution,” said Aquino.
“I’m partial to Con-Con so there can be no accusations of self-serving provisions to extend ourselves, extend terms, take away term limits, take away safeguards to the Constitution.
“If it will not be politicians that will decide this, it can be said that there was no self serving provisions.
“If the issue of Con-Ass, would this be joint voting or separate voting. Of course, I think we’ll probably push for the voting separately option,” he added.

5 comments

  • Sandy Hapin

    Atleast we have senators like Sen. grace poe and Sen.Lacson na alam kung pano manindigan yung iba sunod sunod lang?

    Sandy Hapin Friday, 12 January 2018 06:01 Comment Link
  • Loraine Perez

    Sana maging maayos ang lahat at yung desisyon eh para sa ikabubuti ng lahat.

    Loraine Perez Friday, 12 January 2018 05:58 Comment Link
  • Pabian Mendes

    Suportado ka po namin Madam buti nga po pati din si Sen. Lacosn eh hindi pabor jan sa gusto ni alvarez alam ko siya pasimuno niyan

    Pabian Mendes Friday, 12 January 2018 05:52 Comment Link
  • Roel Ibarra

    This is just the right thing to do sana lang ma realize din ng ibang senador na tama si Senator Grace Poe

    Roel Ibarra Friday, 12 January 2018 05:49 Comment Link
  • El Vibora

    Of course the Senate don't want anything to do with changing the constitution because most of them will not be elected region wide. They want a nation wide voting for senators that only the oligarch can finance them.

    El Vibora Friday, 12 January 2018 03:19 Comment Link

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