Drilon: Alvarez’ Con-ass on the road to cemetery
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ “Senate-less” constituent assembly (Con-ass) would go nowhere but to the cemetery, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Saturday as he criticized the leader of the lower chamber for insisting that Congress could amend the Constitution even without the senators.
“Tama po iyan at walang patutunguhan iyan (Charter change) kundi sementeryo; hindi makakarating sa Senado dahilan sang-ayon sa ating Saligang Batas at kailangan ang aksyon ng dalawang kapulungan,” Drilon said in an interview with DWIZ radio. (That is right and it will go nowhere but to the cemetery. It will not reach the Senate because according to the Constitution, the two chambers of Congress should act on it.)
“Kapag pinapalitan ang pangalan ng kalsada o pangalan ng high school ay kailangang sumang-ayon ng Senado, lalo na siguro sa pag-amyenda sa Saligang Batas ay kailangan naman na sumang-ayon ang Senado sa pamamagitan ng separate voting,” he added. (The names of roads and high schools need the concurrence of the Senate, more so the amendment of our Constitution need to be approved by the Senate.)
Drilon warned that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) could be held liable for malversation if it would spend funds for an “illegal” plebiscite of an amended Charter passed without the Senate’s approval.
“Hindi na po kailangan na i-declare na unconstitutional dahil kung walang askyon ang Senado, walang maidudulog sa publiko, dahilan sa hindi pwedeng magkaroon ng plebisito at wala pong public funds na pwedeng gastusin sa iligal na plebisito,” he explained. (You don’t need to declare it unconstitutional because if there is no action of the Senate, nothing will be passed on to the public because no public fund shall be used to fund an illegal plebiscite.)
“At kung ang Comelec, gagawin nila ang plebisito, sila ay masasampahan ng kaso for malversation dahilan sa gagastos sila ng pondo ng bansa nang walang pahintulot ng batas,” he added. (And if the Comelec will hold the plebiscite, they will be charged for malversation because they will spend public funds without permission of the law.)
In an apparent bid to railroad the draft Charter, Alvarez told senators that Congress, sitting as constituent assembly (Con-ass), would push through even without the senators as he claimed that the members of the House alone could make up the “three-fourths vote” needed to change the Constitution.
Alvarez insisted that the two chambers of Congress should vote jointly under Sec. 1, Art. VII of the Constitution that states that Congress, “by a vote of three-fourths of all its members, may amend or revise the Constitution.”
He said that the House of Representatives alone could meet the three-fourths vote needed to amend the Charter.
This, however, was just Alvarez’ opinion, Drilon said, as it was clear from legal luminaries’ stand that Congress, as a bicameral system, needs to vote separately on amendments to the Charter.
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