Alvarez insists House will propose Charter amendments with or without Senate
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez insisted on Wednesday that the House of Representatives can propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution with or without the Senate.
“Okay lang basta kami, nasa priority namin (For us, it’s OK; it’s our priority),” Alvarez said at a press briefing, reacting to the Senate’s non-inclusion of Charter change (Cha-Cha) in its priority legislations.
While he still prefers to go through Cha-Cha with the Senate, the Speaker said the House can proceed without the upper chamber.
“Mas gugustuhin namin na kasama sila. Pero kung ayaw nila, eh ‘di (We prefer to do this with them, but if they are not willing, then) we will proceed with the proposal to the people,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Monday that the Senate still has not considered Cha-Cha as a vital point of legislation because they have yet to agree on their legislative calendar.
PDP-Laban President Senator Koko Pimentel said that the ruling party, which has advocated for federalism, also agreed that Congress can make proposed amendments as a Constituent assembly (Con-Ass).
“If you ask me, ang personal preference ko, Congress na lang should propose amendments to the Constitution or revision, sitting as a so-called constituent assembly,” Pimentel said.
In January, Alvarez told reporters that the House has started making proposed amendments without the senate, saying that the constitution does not state the necessity of a Con-ass as per Section 1, Article XVII.
Voice of people
Alvarez also said that with three-fourths vote from the House, they can suggest revisions to the Constitution, which would be up to the people to approve through a plebiscite.
“Proposal lang ito (This is only a proposal) for the people to agree,” he said.
The Speaker added that he prefers to have a plebiscite for the amendments to be valid and approved by the people, and not just an initiative from the President, the Senate or the House of Representatives.
However, the schedule of this plebiscite, whether it will coincide with the 2019 midterm elections, is a question that should be addressed after more important issues have been addressed, according to Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
“Sa bandang dulo pa ‘yon, wala pa tayo sa umpisa. Sa transitory provisions na ‘yan (We haven’t started yet. The plebiscite would be at the far end of the process when the transitory provisions are discussed),” he said.
Fariñas also said that the schedule of the plebiscite should be part of the suggestion of the Consultative Committee (Con-com), because only Congress can discuss matters about the Constitution.
“Hindi naman kami committee ng Con-com. Sila dapat ang mag-express sa concerns namin dahil sila is a creation of the executive. Yung Kongreso, yan lang ang pwedeng makialam tungkol sa Saligang Batas, except people’s initiative,” he added.
(We are not part of Con-com. They should consider our concerns because they are the creation of the executive branch. Only Congress can amend the Constitution, except if it’s the people’s initiative.) /ee
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