A kick in the Con-ass: Sotto blasts House panel’s rush to tackle Cha-cha
MANILA, Philippines — What’s the rush?
Senate President Vicente Sotto III posed this question as he disputed the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments who said that his panel is already sitting as a constituent assembly (Con-ass) when it began tackling proposals to change the provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
In a hearing earlier Wednesday, panel chair Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. explained that since the committee is dealing with proposals to revise the Charter, it is already sitting as a Con-ass “exercising our constituent power.”
But Sotto pointed out that Congress is still on a break and would only resume session Monday next week.
“Congress is on a break, the only way a Con-ass can be initiated and considered to sit as one is if it’s done in plenary and session assembled…That’s a simple committee hearing they are conducting!” he told reporters in a Viber message when sought for comment.
“Whatever it is they have to do it in plenary, otherwise that is not the Congress proper,” Sotto added.
In the upper chamber, Senators Francis Tolentino and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa earlier filed a resolution seeking to convene Congress as a constituent assembly to introduce “limited amendments” to the Constitution.
A similar resolution has been filed in the House of Representatives by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Velasco’s resolution, however, only covers certain economic provisions, unlike Tolentino and Dela Rosa’s which include provisions on “democratic representation.”
“Ano ba pinagmamadali nila eh pwede nilang gawin sa Monday yan in plenary? Maipilit na lang,” Sotto further said.
(What’s the rush when they can do that on Monday? They’re just forcing it.)
In a tweet, Sotto also said: “Gusto natin galawin Consti[tution]? Aba siguruhin natin ang rules and procedures natin ay hindi tabinge! Embarrassing if ever!”
(Do we want to tweak the Consti [tution]? Let’s make sure our rules and procedures are not distorted.)
Gusto natin galawin Consti? Aba siguruhin natin ang rules and procedures natin ay hindi tabinge! Embarrassing if ever!
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) January 13, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri echoed Sotto’s view that the legislature has yet to resume the session.
“With all due respect to my good friend Congressman Garbin, Congress is in a recess so I’m not sure how there was plenary action on their resolution to form a constituent assembly,” Zubiri said in a separate message to reporters.
“Our rules only allow committee hearings to take place during the break. So he may be discussing approval on the committee level,” he added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, chided Garbin’s claims, saying that the Senate is also part of Congress.
“Patawarin natin sila. Hindi nila alam ang ginagawa nila,” he said in a statement.
(Let’s forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.)
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