Joint vote on Cha-cha pushed
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives and the Senate should jointly vote on proposals to revise the 1987 Constitution’s provisions, some lawmakers said on Wednesday.
During the resumption of deliberations on Charter change in the House on Wednesday, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta said this would ensure that moves for a Charter change would be successful.
To move the Charter change forward, it must secure the votes of three-fourths of members of Congress, convened in a Constituent Assembly.
Marcoleta pointed out that the Constitution did not provide that the vote must be done separately.
“Kung ako ang tatanungin, mas gusto ko joint [voting]. Mas madali ‘yun eh. Halimbawa, nagawa na natin ang kailangan gawin dito, tapos na tayo bumoto na tayo, nakuha natin ang 3/4 pero pagdating sa kabila [Senate] ang nakuha nila 1/4 ng votes, ‘di wala rin tayong nagawa,” he said during the hearing.
(If I were to be asked, I would prefer joint voting because that’s easier. For example, we were able to secure the votes of 3/4 of the members, but in the Senate, they only had 1/4 votes, then our efforts would be futile.)
“Bakit pa tayo nagtatangka ng pagbabago rito kung wala rin silang maidedeliver?” he further said.
(Why would we push for change if our counterpart cannot deliver?)
For his part, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman is also in the position that members of Congress should vote jointly on Cha-cha, citing a Supreme Court ruling in 1967.
He argued that if Congress is convened into a Constituent Assembly, lawmakers would not be sitting as legislators but as constituent members of the assembly.
“Then, voting should not be separate, but it should be joint. Because there is no distinction now between the Senate and the House because senators and the representatives are not acting as legislators but as members of a Con-ass,” Lagman said during the hearing.
House committee on constitutional amendments chair Alfredo Garbin Jr., however, pointed out that the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, which is being tackled by the panel, has provided that chambers of Congress must vote separately on moves for Charter change.
He pointed out that if voting on ordinary legislation is done separately, it does not follow that the Constitution’s proposals would undergo a less stringent requirement.
“If we treat an ordinary legislation as a voting separately in both Houses of Congress, how can we have a less stringent requirement on proposing an amendment to the Constitution?” Garbin said.
Panel vice chairperson Lorenz Defensor, who shared the sentiments of Garbin, said the democratic process must still be respected.
“Gusto man natin mapabilis ang proseso at magtagumpay, it’s not the success of Congress that is important but it is the respect of the democratic process and the acceptability of the people,” he said.
(Whether we want to speed up the process and succeed, it’s not the success of Congress that is important but it is the respect of the democratic process and the acceptability of the people.)
“Importante na makita ng tao na tama ‘yung proseso,” he added.
(It is important for people to see that the process is right.)
Lagman pointed out that the issue would not be resolved without the intervention of the Supreme Court, however, this would definitely stall current moves to amend the Constitution.
“With respect to the voting requirement or procedure, this will have to reach the Supreme Court. This will have to be resolved by the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Most probably, we will not have sufficient time to effectuate any proposed amendments now because definitely this question on voting will have to go back to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court will have to review the decision in Gonzales versus Comelec,” Lagman added.
The House panel on constitutional amendments resumed deliberations on Charter change proposal through Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 filed by no less than Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Under Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” would be added to the constitutional restrictions that limit foreign investors’ participation in the governing body of entities based on their proportionate share in the capital.
The same phrase would likewise be added to provisions saying only Filipino citizens can control, own, and/or lease alienable lands, public utilities, educational institutions, mass media companies, and advertising companies in the country.
The addition of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” means Congress would be given the power to pass laws easing foreign investment restrictions in the country.
Velasco earlier said foreign investments would help offset the coronavirus pandemic’s effects, especially to the country’s economy.
“Foreign investment plays a crucial role in the Philippine economy by supporting domestic jobs and the creation of physical and knowledge capital across a range of industries. The need to attract foreign capital is critical to support our economy’s recovery from COVID-19,” he earlier said in a statement. [ac]
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