House minority concedes defeat on Cha-cha but keeps fighting

House minority concedes defeat on Charter change but continues fight

/ 04:35 PM March 15, 2024

PHOTO: Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman STORY: House minority concedes defeat on Charter change

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman (Photo from his Facebook account)

MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman has acknowledged that the Minority has lost in the battle over Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7 at the House of Representatives but stressed that the fight against economic Charter change is ongoing.

Lagman discussed the minority’s strategy following the approval of RBH No. 7 on a second reading at The Agenda forum in San Juan on Friday.


The lawmaker, who leads the opposition Liberal Party, said that they are now transitioning their appeal from fellow lawmakers to the public, who will ultimately decide on the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution in a plebiscite.


“The approval is already certain. It’s a foregone conclusion that the supermajority in the House would vote on and approve Resolution of Both Houses No. 7. That’s sure already by next week because that’s their deadline,” Lagman said.

“There’s no good strategy against an overwhelming majority because, at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. That’s why we have released our arguments against economic Cha-cha, but our target now is not lawmakers whose minds are already fixed on supporting it. Our target now is the media and the people who understand the issues,” he said.

“Well, you may call it defeat because we really lost, right? The supermajority won. But it is not an exercise in futility because we want to address this to the public, to the media, and to the Senate,” the lawmaker noted.

Lagman acknowledged that some may view it as a defeat for the Minority but maintained that their efforts to highlight potentially perilous provisions in the Charter change proposals were not futile, as it also served to inform the public.

However, he expressed optimism that the measure would face hurdles in the Senate.

“I think by next week when the lower House approves the Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, that coincides with Palm Sunday. There are so many hallelujahs. But when it arrives at the Senate, we are going to mourn it, as if on Good Friday,” he said.


RBH No. 7 was passed by the House last Wednesday through viva voce or voice voting. The approval followed six session days of deliberation by a House committee of the whole and three session days of debate at the plenary level.

The approval last Wednesday paves the way for RBH No. 7 to be approved on third reading before Congress adjourns its session by March 23 for the Holy Week break. Under the rules, bills approved on second reading would have to wait for three session days before being deliberated on third reading.

READ: One step closer: House OKs RBH 7 on second reading

Under RBH No. 7 — derived from the Senate’s RBH No. 6 — three economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution will be amended by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law.” These provisions concern public utilities, basic education, and advertising.

If the proposed amendments are approved by the House and Senate and ratified in a plebiscite, Congress would be able to pass laws prescribing the rate of foreign ownership for these industries.

However, this method of amending the Constitution has drawn criticism from some resource persons like retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who explained that amendments made through legislation may face challenges regarding constitutionality.

READ: Puno cautions solons on phrasing in Cha-cha drive

At the Senate, there are discussions that RBH No. 6 may face challenges as Senators Cynthia Villar and Aquilino Pimentel III said they have the numbers to oppose the economic charter change.

For constitutional amendments to proceed, Congress needs a two-thirds vote of all its members. If the Senate insists on voting separately, RBH No. 6 needs at least 18 out of 24 senators to vote affirmatively.

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However, if claims are true that seven or eight senators might not support RBH No. 6, proposed amendments would be considered dead.

TAGS: charter change, House minority

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