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Drilon: House sitting as Con-Ass to amend charter ‘baseless’, ‘dangerous precedent’

Hananeel Bordey

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the public and his colleagues to be vigilant on talks on Charter Change as he flagged the House of Representatives’ move to sit as Constituent Assembly.

The opposition senator has warned that the declaration of Con-Ass is “baseless” and may set a “dangerous precedent.”

“Cong. [Alfredo] Garbin is wrong. The congressmen and senators were elected as members of Congress and AS LEGISLATORS TO ENACT ORDINARY LAWS, NOT AS MEMBERS OF A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION,” he said in a text message.

Although there is still a vague interpretation of the Constitutional provision on Congress’ process of voting in any charter amendment, Drilon maintained that both Houses should convert itself through a resolution into Con-Ass and vote on the matter separately.

“Absent that resolution of both Houses, the proceedings in the House Committee CANNOT ASSUME THE FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY,” he said.

“I suspect that Cong Garbin is laying the basis to claim that the House alone, even without any Senator participating, can propose amendments to the Constitution. Such claim is totally baseless, but a dangerous precedent,” he warned.

In a separate statement, Drilon cited Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution which states that “any amendment to, or revision of, (the) Constitution may be proposed by the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or a constitutional convention.”

Should the Lower House follow Garbin’s interpretation, Drilon said it will “contravene” the Constitution.

“They hijacked the powers of a constituent assembly. They bypassed the plenary powers of Congress. They basically hijacked the Senate. It sets a dangerous precedent. They are testing the waters. I see a sinister agenda behind this baseless assertion,” Drilon said.

“Aba, round one pa lang nagkakadayaan na. (We’re just at the first round yet they are already changing the rules.) How can we even trust them? I call on my colleagues in the Senate and the public to be critical and vigilant about these fresh attempts for a Charter change. It is obvious how far they are willing to go to pass Cha-cha,” he ended.

On Wednesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senator Panfilo Lacson opposed the declaration of Con-Ass.

Their statements were made after the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Alfredo Garbin said the committee hearing is already convening the Con-Ass.

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