Rep. Edcel Lagman
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has the authority to order local election officers to stop receiving signature sheets on people’s initiative (PI) to amend the Constitution.
Pending the filing with the Comelec of the prerequisite petition for PI, the Comelec has no jurisdiction yet to proceed on the matter, including the acceptance and validation of PI signatures.
More importantly, there is no compliant implementing law to govern PI insofar as the Constitution is sought to be amended as held in Santiago v. Comelec, a ruling of the Supreme Court which has not been abandoned squarely in the main decision in Lambino v. Comelec.
The escalating conflict between the House and the Senate is engendered by differing partisan and ulterior motives.
The PI purportedly initiated by the House is designed to marginalize the Senators in a joint voting by the constituent assembly due to the numerical superiority of the representatives.
On the other hand, the Senate objects to joint voting in the constituent assembly because it would be outvoted by the representatives and the constituent assembly voting jointly can even propose to abolish the Senate.
The Constitution is not a historical relic. It is a living document which adequately provides guidelines for the present and providentially ensures guideposts for the future.
For this reason, the amendment or revision of the fundamental law should not be the victim of partisan enterprise and selfish motivation.
Meanwhile, the ensuing impasse between the House and the Senate victimizes the people’s welfare and interest as the Congress is distracted from confronting the crises in the economy, agriculture, food security, employment, health, education, budgetary deficit, debt servicing and the aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea.