Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Palace appeal: Consensus needed on Con-ass vote

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

The Senate and the House of Representatives must agree on how they should vote in a constituent assembly (Con-ass) so that amending the 1987 Constitution for a shift to federalism could proceed, Malacañang said on Tuesday as the senators insisted the representatives could not revise the Charter on their own.

The senators have rejected joint voting on proposed amendments to the Constitution because they are outnumbered by the representatives, who, in turn, have decided to sit as a Con-ass and revise the Charter without the senators.

The shift to federalism is a priority of President Duterte but the Senate-House stalemate has brought efforts to push the enterprise to a standstill.

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who is also a lawyer, said arguments for separate voting and joint voting were “equally feasible” and “equally tenable.”

The 1987 Constitution literally provides for joint voting, he said.

But it is clear that there has been a “drafting error” because the framers have provided for a bicameral Congress, he said.

Roque cited the opinion that even the Supreme Court might not intervene in the issue. As for the Palace, he said, it believed Congress must resolve the matter itself.

“I think that’s something both houses of Congress must discuss. From my brief experience in Congress, Congress is not just deliberative, it’s consensual, you need to build consensus,” he said.

“The same consensus building will have to be resorted to between the House and the Senate on the issue of how to move forward with constituent assembly,” he added.

The Palace, he said, expects the two chambers of Congress to resolve the matter.

For that to happen, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the representatives should read the 1987 Constitution in its entirety, or at the very least Article 17 Section 1 in relation to Article 6 Section 1, which referred to Congress as the Senate and the House.

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“For their own sake, they should not allow themselves to look pathetic and, worse, ridiculous,” Lacson said, adding that interpreting “Congress” as referring to just one chamber is self-serving at best.

The House, he said, could go ahead with proposing revisions to the Constitution but at the end of the day funds should be appropriated for the Commission on Elections to finance a plebiscite on the proposed amendments.

“Without the Senate, how can such appropriation materialize?” he asked.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Charter change, Con-Ass, Con-Con, constituent assembly, constitutional convention, federalism, Harry Roque, Panfilo Lacson
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