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Con-ass resolution filed in Senate

Four senators have signified their interest to be coauthors of the resolution of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to convene the Senate into a constituent assembly (Con-ass) as lawmakers continue to be divided on the mode to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Lacson filed the resolution on Monday, the first session after a monthlong break.

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Lacson’s resolution was referred to the committee under the chairmanship of Sen. Francis Pangilinan during Monday’s session.

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Senate Resolution No. 580 called for “the constitution of the Senate … into a constituent assembly to propose amendments to or revision of the Constitution and upon approval of three-fourths vote of its members adopt the same.”

At the session, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Grace Poe, Sen. Gregorio Honasan II and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri have signified to be coauthors of Lacson’s resolution.

Sen. Bam Aquino said he had also filed a resolution seeking to convene a constitutional convention (Con-con) and he hoped the hearing on Wednesday would deliberate whether a Con-con should be convened in place of a Con-ass.

House constitutional amendments committee chair, Rep. Roger Mercado, has balked at Lacson’s proposal, saying the Constitution provided for the body to be composed of all members of both chambers.

In a press briefing on Monday, Mercado insisted that Article 17 of the Constitution was “very clear” in requiring that amendments to the Charter be made by “the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.”

Both houses of Congress

Mercado said this meant “both houses will be convened” into the Con-ass, referring to the 292-member House of Representatives and the 23-member Senate voting jointly.

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In a text message, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that if Lacson’s resolution would propose a bicameral Con-ass, “which means the two houses will vote separately, without need for the two houses of Congress to physically assemble as one body, I am willing to coauthor [his resolution].”

In his resolution, Lacson acknowledged that framers of the Constitution were “silent on how Congress should meet in effecting the change in the Constitution.”

Joint session not required

But quoting Jesuit priest and constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, he said it was not required for the two houses of Congress to be in joint session to amend the basic law of the land.

“Hence it is quite possible for the two houses to formulate amendments the way they formulate laws—as they are where they are,” the resolution said.

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TAGS: Bam Aquino, Charter change, Con-Ass, constituent assembly, constitutional convention, federalism, Grace Poe, Gregorio Honasan II, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Panfilo Lacson, Senate, Vicente Sotto III
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