Insertion of political amendments to the 1987 Constitution still possible — Castro

Published January 13, 2021, 6:58 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Despite assurance from the House leadership that the Lower Chamber will solely focus on economic Charter change, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro cited possibility Wednesday that political provisions can still be inserted during Congress’ deliberations on Cha-cha. 

ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro

The Makabayan lawmaker said there is no way to control nor prevent both houses of Congress from inserting political amendments to the 1987 Constitution, including term extension. 

“Kung halimbawa po ang Senate na ngayon ay nagsasabi sila hindi lang economic provision, on party-lists, maybe on terms, anong mangyayari, Mr Chair? Halimbawa ito lang ang pinagbotohan natin and then sila meron silang iba?” Castro asked AKO partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. , chairperson of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, during his panel’s resumption of the Cha-cha deliberations in the Loiwer Chamber. 
(For example, the Senate is currently saying that the amendments are not just economic provision, may include provisions on partylists, maybe on terms, what will happen, Mr. Chair? For example, this is what we have just voted, and they have a different version?)

Garbin said he cannot speak for the Senate, even as he noted that the Upper Chamber is set to hold its caucus to tackle measures amending the Constitution.  

“We can have a bicameral conference committee to harmonize the differences. Kung anuman ang product ng bicameral conference committee, that  will still be ratified by three-fourths vote of all members of Congress voting separately,” he explained. 

Upon hearing Garbin’s answer, Castro said that political provisions may be inserted during deliberations between the House and Senate. 

“So tama yung pangamba namin na hindi lang talaga strictly for economic provisions ito. Kasi kapag nag-combine, when we combine both houses, walang magpe-prevent sa both houses na talakayin hindi lang ang economic provisions, including din ang political,” she said.
(So, our suspicion is right, it is not just strictly for economic provisions. Because when we combine both houses, the both houses will not be prevented from discussing the economic provisions, but also the political.)

Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Lorenz Defensor, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said their deliberations will zero in on the House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s Resolution of Both Houses No. 2.

“Ang ita-tackle lang po natin sa committee at sa plenaryo dito sa Kongreso ay kung ano lang po ang laman ng House resolution, hindi po tayo puwede lumabas duon,” he said.  
(What we are going to tackle in the committee and plenary here in Congress is what is contained in the House resolution, we cannot go beyond that.)

RBH No. 2 seeks to amend restrictive provisions of the Constitution by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to sections of Articles II (National Patrimony and Economy), XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports)  and XVI (General Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution. 

“We must stick with the economic provisions and we only approve economic provisions up to the last approval kung umabot man sa bicameral conference (if ever it reaches the bicameral conference),” Defensor said.