"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Con-Ass like Ordinary Legislation

After agreeing to a dialogue with the House, Senator Richard Gordon’s committee on constitutional amendments held a caucus last Wednesday and took the position that the 1987 Constitution does not provide for a constituent assembly as a mode for charter amendments.

“The consensus is that there is no need for a constituent assembly because the Constitution is very clear that any senator or congressman can (propose to) amend the Constitution or even revise the Constitution by mere resolution, in which case it is treated as any ordinary piece of legislation which can be referred to the standing committee of each house,” Gordon said at a news conference.

“And when it’s approved by three-fourths vote, it becomes a proposed amendment to the Constitution which then is submitted to a plebiscite,” Gordon added.

Gordon said the constituent assembly as a mode for amending the Charter was provided for in the 1935 Constitution but not by the current Charter. The other modes for amending or revising the Charter are through a constitutional convention and people’s initiative.

Massage’ diplomacy: House softens position on Con-Ass http://news.inq7.net/nation/index.php?index=1&story_id=76280
By Michael Lim Ubac, Juliet Labog-Javellana
19 May 2006

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The Senate has effectively junked the constituent assembly as a method of amending the Constitution, saying Charter change could be carried out through a mere resolution from either chamber of Congress.

The Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revisions of codes and laws, chaired by Richard Gordon, took this position following a caucus that discussed the forthcoming dialogue between the Senate and the House of Representatives in which the issue of amending the Constitution to shift to a parliamentary form of government was tackled.

According to Gordon, committee members unanimously decided to treat any amendment or revision of the Constitution as an ordinary piece of legislation. Gordon said the agreement was based on the provisions of the Constitution and the rules of the House.

He claimed there is no specific provision in the 1987 Constitution calling for a constituent assembly as a method of amending the Charter. The language outlining a "constituent assembly" was only present in the 1935 Constitution, Gordon said.

Gordon claimed the Constitution is very specific in identifying the circumstances during which the Senate and the House should vote jointly and separately.

He said he would try to set a meeting with Jaraula on Tuesday and start the dialogue on Charter change initiatives. The position of the Senate would then be relayed to Jaraula. According to Gordon, he would ask the House through Jaraula to start submitting its proposed amendments in the form of a resolution if it wants to start the process immediately.

Gordon stressed this process would save the government more money since no new body would have to be created for the purpose.

The Senate has been firm against proposals by the House for a constituent assembly to introduce amendments in the Charter.

Senators contend that a constituent assembly would be seen as self-serving because lawmakers themselves make up the body. They preferred the holding of a constitutional convention which is the less controversial mode of amending the Charter.

Go slow on legislated Cha-cha, Senate urged
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star 05/19/2006