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Garbin claims house committee on constitutional amendments is already ConAss

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House committee on constitutional amendments chairman Alfredo Garbin believed that the panel is already convening as Constituent Assembly, a claim opposed by several lawmakers.

The panel was supposed to debate on the so-called “economic charter change (Cha-cha)” or House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s Resolution of Both Houses 2 (RBH 2) which seeks to lift restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution, which he believed would pave way for faster economic recovery as this would attract more foreign investments.

Garbin made the claim after he was asked by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and SAGIP Rep. Rodante Marcoleta if Con-Ass is the preferred approach for Cha-Cha as this was stated under RHB 2.

He confirmed it, saying that they are in fact already sitting as Con-Ass, “exercising their constituent power.”

Garbin further explained that whenever lawmakers deal with or propose Cha-cha, then they already act as Con-Ass, which Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, the committee’s vice chair, reaffirmed.

“We don’t need to transfigure ourselves, clothe differently or be together [for Con-Ass],” he added.

Opposition lawmaker, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman disagreed with Garbin’s and Defensor’s own definition of Con-Ass.

“That is strange because no committee of the Senate or the House can sit as a constituent assembly…because a constituent assembly is composed of members of the House and Senate in a joint setting or assembly,” he noted.

The independent lawmaker stressed that without the Upper House, the Lower House alone cannot meet as a Con-Ass and will only be treated as component elements of Con-Ass.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas aired the similar opinion, saying, “The House panel cannot assume the convening of a Con-Ass on its own, without a separate enabling resolution and without the express consent and approval of the Senate.”

Zarate, likewise, stressed the House panel “cannot just declare a motu propuo” that it is now being constituted as a Con-Ass.

“Amendment via legislation route of the House is not the Constituent Assembly contemplated by the 1987 Constitution,” he wrote in a social media post.

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