House rejects Lagman’s bid to suspend Con-con deliberation
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman’s motion calling for the suspension of the plenary deliberations on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 — which calls for a constitutional convention to amend the 1987 Constitution — has been rejected by the House of Representatives.
During the session on Tuesday, Lagman — a lawyer by profession — raised a motion to stop the discussions on RBH No. 6 based on his belief that neither the House nor the Senate can proceed on its own in tackling constitutional issues.
RBH No. 6, which is a consolidated version of all calls for a constitutional convention under Committee Report No. 323, is currently being deliberated at the House plenary. The House Committee on constitutional amendments approved the resolution last February 20.
“Mr. Speaker, may we know from the distinguished gentleman if it is correct that when Congress exercises its constituent power[…] the chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate must meet in joint session. Is that correct?” Lagman asked the committee chairman, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said this is incorrect because the 1987 Constitution’s provisions on amendments do not explicitly state that the two chambers must convene jointly.
Section 1, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution states that “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) A constitutional convention”.
“That is not correct. The Constitution is very clear; it only requires a two-thirds vote of its members, there is no mention of joint session, there is no mention of a vote by an assembly of joint session,” Rodriguez pointed out.
“Does it have the word joint assembly, joint session? No, probably my colleague refers to the 1935 Constitution, which says, ‘Section 1, Amendments, the Congress in joint session assemble by a vote of three-fourths’,” he added.
Lagman, however, maintained that Congress does not only refer to the House but also the Senate.
“The Constitution says Congress — and what is Congress? Congress is constituted of two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. So constitutional authorities have interpreted this that Congress in the exercise of its constituent powers must meet in joint session,” he said.
“In other words, what we are doing now is against the Constitution because we are meeting singly without a joint session with the Senate. In that score, Mr. Speaker I move that we stop immediately this deliberation pending the joint session between the House and the Senate,” he added.
Lagman eventually agreed to defer his motion and deliberation of the resolution to give way to privilege speeches. But when the motion was voted upon by viva voce, members of the House declined Lagman’s motion.
The House is currently deliberating several proposals to amend the constitution, primarily because of alleged restrictive economic provisions which disallow foreign direct investments.
On Monday, the Committee on constitutional amendments approved a still unnumbered proposal which, if enacted, would be the bill implementing RBH No. 6.
The House panel adopted the proposal of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who suggested that Congress adopt a hybrid constitutional convention which would have both elected and appointed delegates to ensure that political families do not have supremacy on the said body.
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