Sotto: House-Senate meeting yielded no agreement on federalism
SENATOR Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Tuesday said there was no agreement forged between members of the Senate and House of Representative following their meeting that touched on the proposed shift to a federal form of government.
In an INQ&A interview, Sotto said the meeting led by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez “was more of a fellowship and a way of opening lines of communication” between the two chambers of Congress.
Sotto said the meeting was some sort of a mini Ledac (Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council) to “facilitate priority bills or the legislative agenda of the present administration.”
The Senate majority leader said they discussed the possibility of amending the 1987 Constitution, but noted that there was no commitment from both sides.
“We browsed through it. Napag-usapan yung possibility whether Con-con or Con-ass, what are the possibilities… But nothing was really technical. No commitments from both groups. Just opening up on the ideas,” he said.
Citing checks and balances, Sotto said a good number of senators were leaning towards a constitutional assembly if members of the Senate and House of Representatives will be voting separately.
Sotto said the earliest that the Congress can convene a Con-ass will be in January next year, after all the discussions on budget have been done.
“It was just a… parang dinadaan lang yung kwento. There was a mention of President Duterte favoring the 1973 Constitution… That would be a good skeleton to start with… The earliest we’re looking at is early next year,” he said.
“The thing about the Con-con that it will really take long. First you have to pass a law. There must be a budget for it. Then mag-election. After elections hahanap mo ng opisina yung mga nahalal. Para mong dinoble yung buong Congress. They have a life of their own and hindi mo pwedeng bigyan ng timetable,” he added.
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