House calls for constituent assembly

THE government moves a step closer to changing the system of government as the House of Representatives adopted Tuesday, January 16, the resolution calling on the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene as a constituent assembly (con-ass) for the purpose of amending the 1987 Constitution.

At about 6 p.m. Tuesday, the House members on the floor - 186 in all - voted through viva voce or voice voting, one of the two voting methods used by Congress to approve the motion of Pampanga 4th District Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc to adopt the House Resolution No. 9 calling on the 17th Congress to convene a constituent assembly.

The voting pushed through after the motion of Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao was rejected. Casilao had moved that he be allowed to finish his interpellation and allow other members of the Makabayan bloc to interpellate.

At a press conference, members of the Makabayan bloc denounced the decision of the House of Representatives, with ACT Representative Antonio Tinio saying the House violated once again its own rule.

"Nasa interpellation pa lamang, marami pang kasamahan natin ang di pa nagtatanong nagpasya na ang kapulungan na tapusin na ang pagtatanong (We have not completed the interpellation when the plenary decided to end this)," he said.

"Nilabag ng House ang sarili niyang rules na bago magbotohan dapat magdebate (The House violated its own rule on conducting a debate prior to voting)," he added.

The lawmaker, however, failed to cite what specific rule had been violated.

Casilao said it is clear that there is martial law at the Congress.

He added that it is also clear that the House will fast track the move to amend the Constitution in time for the May 2019 barangay elections so the terms would be extended.

Casilao said he believes that lawmakers in the lower chamber will insist on voting jointly with the Senate.

"Malinaw na din po na matigas ang Kongresong ito at hindi magkakaron ng separate voting (It's clear that there will be no separate voting)," he said.

Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado, chair of the committee on constitutional amendments, during the interpellation told members of the House that they should vote together with members of the Senate.

He cited Article XIV of the 1987 Section 1 of constitution which states that any amendment or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.

The stance of majority of the members of House has been repeatedly criticized by senators, including Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel.

Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon has also said there will be no con-ass if both houses will vote jointly. (SunStar Philippines)
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