Back to zero for Charter amendments if Senate ignores RBH 15 by June

Published February 2, 2019, 6:17 PM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Ben Rosario

It will be back to zero for the proposed revision of the 1987 Constitution if Senate decides to ignore the call to convene a constituent assembly before the end of the 17th Congress.

Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said the House of Representatives will practically have to start a new legislative process for the proposed Charter change if Senate fail’s to any action on Resolution of Both Houses No. 15.

RBH No. 15 has been passed on third and final reading in the Lower House last month and is now pending before the Senate.

Castro said there remains a chance the Upper House will approve RBH No. 15 considering that several senators have vowed support for the measure.

“The draft Constitution is already contained in RBH No. 15. All that we are waiting for now is Senate approval,” Castro told reporters during a news forum in Quezon City Saturday.

Castro said the Charter draft included in RBH NO. 15 contain proposals made by the House Committee on Constitutional Revision, the ConCom and others that came up during the series of public hearings conducted on the measure.

“It will be back to zero if Senate will not act on it before the 17th Congress closes in June,” he pointed out.

This means that any proposal to revive a constitutional amendment proposal will have to undergo a similar legislative route that RBH No. 15 took.

According to Castro the draft Charter included in RBH No. 15 is still subject to change, depending on the decision of the proposed constituent assembly.

RBH No. 15 was approved in the Lower House on 224 affirmative votes that comprise over ¾ of the constitutional requirement for Charter revision.

According to Castro based on the 1987 Constitution, only 219 “yes” votes is required to allow amendments to the 31 year old charter.

Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assured Senate that the House acknowledges that constitutional proposals will be voted separately by the two legislative chambers.

Senators insist that the voting be undertaken separately because they will be easily outnumbered by congressmen.

The issue over the manner of voting has become a long-standing dispute between the Senate and the Lower House until Arroyo decided that the latter accede to a separate voting notwithstanding the failure of the Constitution to clear the air on the controversy.

The draft constitution in RBH No. 15 contains various proposals submitted by the Consultative Commission created by President Rodrigo Duterte, the PDP-Laban, and a number of bills filed by Reps. Eugene De Vera (ABS Partylist); , Aurelio Gonzales (PDP-Laban, Pampanga); , Alfredo Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental); Arnolfo Teves (PDP_Laban, Negros Oriental); , DV SAvellano (NP, Ilocos Sur); Arroyo and Castro.