House panel tackling Cha-cha already a ‘constituent assembly,’ says solon
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on constitutional amendments, which is currently tackling proposals to change provisions of the 1987 Constitution, is already sitting as a constituent assembly (Con-Ass).
House panel chair Alfredo Garbin Jr. on Wednesday explained since the committee is dealing with proposals to revise the charter, it is already sitting as a Con-Ass “exercising our constituent power.”
He defined a Con-Ass as a body authorized by the Constitution to propose amendments to the charter, further saying that Con-Ass is a “group of elected representatives that has the power to rewrite or change the country’s Constitution.”
“When we deal with or propose amendments to the Constitution, we are sitting as a con-ass. Hindi tayo kailangan magbagong-anyo na kung saan iba ‘yung suot natin o magsama-sama tayo,” Garbin said during the panel hearing.
“Everytime we deal with proposing amendments to the Constitution or revising the Constitution, we are sitting as a Con-Ass exercising our constituent power,” he added.
Vice panel chair Lorenz Defensor echoed Garbin’s remarks, adding that there is no formal act needed to open deliberations on amending the Constitution and acting as a Con-Ass.
“The provisions of the Constitution are silent and once we convene to discuss this House Resolution in amending our Constitution, we are already acting as a Con-Ass exercising our constituent power,” he said in the same hearing.
However, this did not sit well with some lawmakers.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman pointed out that a Con-Ass must be a joint meeting of members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate.
“That’s strange to me. No committee of the Senate or of the House can sit as a Con-Ass,” he said.
Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano also proposed that the ongoing deliberations on Charter change must be called as a “committee hearing to propose a Con-Ass that will propose for the amendments of the Constitution.”
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