House full speed ahead with Con-Ass

Published January 18, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mr. Fu

By Ben Rosario

With or without the Senate’s participation, the House of Representatives is barreling ahead with its decision to convene into a Constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution.

In a radio interview after the Senate expressed its rejection of House Concurrent Resolution 09 moving for a Constituent Assembly, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez belittled Senator Panfilo Lacson’s proposal to expel any senator who does not toe the Senate line.

Alvarez said he believes that there are some among the 23 senators who are supportive of HCR 09.

The prevailing sentiment in the Senate is to form a constitutional convention that will open the 31-year-old Constitution to revisions.

Alvarez, who is leading a campaign to shift to a federal government, said some congressmen are willing to test the House’s stand that voting during Constituent Assembly should be done jointly before the Supreme Court.

“If there is disagreement, we have a Supreme Court tasked to resolve such misinterpretation,” he said.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Revision, said his panel is prepared to present its proposed amendments, saying that the Constituent Assembly can start convening in a few days.

Next week, the House will start inviting senators to discuss the constitutional revision.

“We have to agree first on the structure of government.  Kasi kapag nag-agree na tayo, kung ano ang istruktura ay everything will follow,” Mercado said.

If no senator attends the meetings, the House will continue to work on the Charter, he said.

Alvarez assured that all amendments will be passed only if it is approved with a three-fourths vote of all Constituent Assembly members, whether or not senators participated.

Amid accusations of railroading legislation, the House adopted on Tuesday HCR 09 through a voice vote.

Makabayan bloc lawmakers assailed the manner of adoption, saying plenary debates have not been completed.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate warned that the House leadership’s tactic, done with the acquiescence of the chamber’s majority bloc, will be the Charter change scenario.

“Filipinos should be forewarned about this.  They will ram into our throats their own self-serving constitutional agenda,” said Zarate.

Senior Minority Leader and Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said the deliberative character of the House has been spoiled by the Malacanang-backed majority when it revised House rules to set limits on the number of interpellators for a bill discussed on the floor.

Like Zarate, Atienza doubted that discussions on constitutional provisions will be free and comprehensive.