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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Senate, no Con-Ass

Senator Richard Gordon, the new chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said Thursday that the Senate will not agree to form a Constituent Assembly and change the charter through joint voting by both chambers.

In an interview with dzMM, Gordon said the upper chamber will not give in to the administration congressmen's view that the Senate and the House should vote jointly, instead of separately, on charter change (cha-cha).

He said the constitution clearly states that the two chambers can only vote jointly on whether to concur with the President's declaration of martial law.

"They (congressmen) cannot have a Constituent Assembly without the Senate. The constitution is clear when it says you can amend the constitution by a vote of Congress. Legislative power is vested in two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives," he said.

Gordon said he personally believes that charter change (cha-cha) should be discussed in the 2010 elections. He said candidates should clearly tell the voters their views on the issue.

The senator said this is the only way the people can be assured that cha-cha will not be used by incumbent government officials who want to extend their stay in office.

Two cha-cha resolutions have been circulating around the House. One resolution, authored by House Speaker Prospero Nograles, seeks to pass economic reforms to attract foreign investors, while the resolution being pushed by Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) President Luis Villafuerte, wants to force the Supreme Court (SC) to rule on charter change.

Administration congressmen have confirmed that the KAMPI resolution will be brought to the SC after mustering at least three-fourths signatures of legislators regardless of whether it is signed by senators.

“Paano ito kung puro tayo satsatan dito, eh di pirmahan tayo at dalhin sa Supreme Court para magkaalaman (What will happen if we're all talk? Let’s sign [the resolution] and bring it to the Supreme Court),” Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor said when asked about the real motive of the KAMPI resolution.

Villafuerte said that at least 156 congressmen have signified their support for the KAMPI resolution. However, there were also reports that at least administration congressmen have withdrawn their support.

Gordon also warned Thursday that the Philippines will be shifting back to martial rule if the Supreme Court decides in favor of Charter change (cha-cha) proponents.

Gordon, who retained his post as chairman of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revisions, said that as a lawyer he is banking on the SC's independence when it is asked to rule on the cha-cha issue.

"I have to rely on the Supreme Court...The day the Supreme Court becomes beholden to a president, it is the end of democracy in the country," he said, adding that a magistrate should stay independent even if he's appointed by the president, because the high court is "the court of last resort."

Gordon said if ever the SC decides in favor of proposals to convene the Senate and the House of Representatives into a Constituent Assembly before 2010, the country may be shifting back to martial rule.

"It happened during the martial law days. I hope it will not happen with this Supreme Court," Gordon said.

Gordon: No Senate, no Con-Ass
abs-cbnNEWS.com | 11/27/2008 12:51 PM


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